I wanted to share this wonderful interview one of our team members, Katya, had with a local artist. The past year has been filled with transitions; for many, the greatest being a move from corporate locations to the home office. As life begins to normalize again, many folks are returning to in-person work sites, yet even more are shifting to permanent work from home or flexible remote work options. With more time at home, and a multitude of zoom calls, people are searching for ways to make spaces professional, comfortable and personal. Minneaoplis based artist, Molly McDougall, specializes in just that– helping her clients dream up their ideal space through custom murals and illustrations.
Molly, how did you dream of bringing your vendor art into private residences?
I’ve always felt that homes present an amazing opportunity to express yourself. You can hang artwork and collect furniture to build an environment that comforts you, and a mural is another great tool for personalizing space. When so many people transitioned to work from home during the pandemic, I decided to revisit my push for home office murals, and the demand has certainly picked up over the past six months or so.
As a homeowner, the idea of creating a full-wall, or even full-room, mural seems daunting; I wouldn’t know where to begin! What is your process for collaborating with the client on design?
We always start with a conversation. I have a lot of people reach out and say, “I would love a mural but I don’t know what I want!,” and I always tell them, “that’s okay, that part is my job!”. The cool thing about a mural is that it’s a commissioned piece, and that means that I work with you to interpret your vision into a final design. I like to get keywords from clients to learn what they want the space to feel like when it’s finished: calming, joyful, minimalist, organic, colorful, empowering. I welcome any piece of inspiration for the mural as well, such as photos, furniture, past work– I even did a mural recently that was designed around a client’s favorite poem!
Once you’ve clarified intentions with the client, what is your creative process and how long does it take you?
I always start with moodboards to narrow down the general direction of the mural. Once the moodboards have been reviewed, I present a few options to the client as first drafts. They choose their favorite design and we complete an additional two rounds of revision and editing. Some clients want a little more time reviewing each round than others, but typically the design process takes a couple of weeks and final execution is dependent on the size and intricacy of the mural. Generally, a residential mural will take between one and a half to three days to fabricate on-site.
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Have you been commissioned to paint other rooms in addition to home offices?
So far it’s been mostly home offices and nurseries for residential murals, but I honestly think a mural would look amazing in any room of the house! I would love to do a kitchen or breakfast nook.
Typical ways to decorate a room include artwork, gallery walls, wallpaper, even custom wallpaper you can design online. Tell me the benefits of a custom mural versus some of the other decor options available.
There’s just something about a mural that feels so luxurious and custom. When you walk into a room with a mural, you can feel immediately that you are in a one-of-a-kind space. When it comes to wallpaper versus murals, I love that you can explore larger images in a mural, it doesn’t have to be a perfectly repeated pattern. Not to mention, it’s way easier to paint over a mural than to remove or replace wallpaper, and you can absolutely still hang artwork over a mural. I’m all for eclectic stylings– mix and match it up!
We’re seeing more murals and grand illustrations in professional spaces. Is this a trend you believe we’ll see more of in private homes?
Murals have definitely become more popular in commercial storefronts and newer, luxury apartment buildings over the past five to ten years. I think there’s a lot of overlap between their rise in popularity and the increased focus on shopping local. Using a mural in your space underlines the idea that this particular environment was curated on-site and made just for this space, it’s not some commercialized artwork that you will find in a million other locations. Murals make a place feel special, and I think that’s why, with so many people working remotely, there has been an increased desire to lean into the uniqueness of your home. Make it special, make it yours. I foresee that trend only getting stronger.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about murals, your business or home design?
When you decide to put a mural in your home or business, you are taking the pressure off of yourself to make all of the design decisions. You’re not only getting a custom piece of artwork just for you, you’re also getting a professional artist whose job is to learn your space, interpret your needs, and execute your final choice. You’re basically hiring an interior designer and professional painter all in one! You’re also choosing to personalize your space by supporting a small business and independent artist, and that’s pretty special.
In addition to murals, Molly creates custom signage, window lettering, spot illustrations, and teaches various creative workshops. You can see her work throughout the Twin Cities at popular shops, restaurants and workspaces such as Primp Boutique, The Coven Minneapolis, a&bé Bridal Shop, and Aster Cafe. Her latest work can be found on Instagram at @madebymollyjo and her full portfolio can be viewed on her website. To inquire about murals or other services, email firstname.lastname@example.org.