Murals taking over the walls of Austin

Malena Heineman, Staff Writer

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Although Austin may be known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” that title doesn’t capture all of the things that make the city unique. A new trend in Austin are bright murals which are popping up on many street corners. Whether it be a large-scale mural commissioned by a business, graffiti put up by a local street artist, or even students-created art, Austin has become a hub for professional and non-professional muralists and artists to come together to create one-of-a-kind artwork.

One of Austin’s most beloved local artists is the creator of the “Drib” bird located all over Austin. The “Drib” is a bright, cartoon style parrot painted throughout the city. The style is unique to the artist, who asked to be identified by his pseudonym Drib. According to him, he uses his art as a way to express himself through a creative outlet.

“I’ve always enjoyed art,” Drib said. “Ever since I was a kid, I would draw but sports became the main focus for me growing up and the drawing kind of got put away. Now, I’ve decided I would go back to what I enjoyed then. Art. Drawing. Creating. I needed something different that would take me out of my comfort zone, something that could make me feel alive. And that’s where the graffiti part came in.”

While a passerby may think that the graffiti art around the city is made by single individuals, graffiti communities have been emerging and changing street art culture. Organizations with bases in Austin, such as SprATX and the Mural Co. employ local artists to create murals for local businesses and do larger scale projects for communities. Drib has found that independent artists like himself now find themselves being employed by members of the community.

“Many of Austin’s best muralists and artists are a part of the SprATX family,” said Drib. “But for me it’s usually just people calling for a personal home touch that’s private for them. Some things are foundations of the house. Sheds in backyards. Fences. Really whatever the person feels needs some sprucing up with colors. A few businesses also have contacted me for some of my painting as well.”

Austinites response to street art is positive and present throughout the city. People often photograph themselves in front of one-of-a-kind murals and business venues have begun to hire more artists to enhance their buildings with large scale murals to attract more customers.
According to LASA junior Zoe Dubin graffiti and street art are a tangible representation of local culture.

“I’m an artist myself, and seeing artwork around Austin inspires me, and other artists like me, to see the diversity of works that are someone else’s,” Dubin said. “They add to the culture and they can beautify a local building that might have been boring before.”

According to Drib, artists behind the murals also attract attention in the local communities. Drib attributed this to the fact that graffiti has become a form of art that is more accessible and easier to relate to for a greater audience of people.

“Surprisingly, Austin has loved the birds as much as I do,” Drib said. “I drew the birds because it made me feel good. I’m a quiet person who doesn’t share a lot. The bird became a good way to give me a voice, and apparently people heard it and loved it. It started out as something that was just for me, but it grew into something that was for everyone. Austin has been very accepting and has my biggest supporters; I really don’t think I’d be where I am now if it wasn’t for all the amazing people.”

Art and murals aren’t exclusive only to professional artists and adults. Students are also able to use these forms of art to express themselves. Dubin is an example of this, she is a part of the Color Squad, a group of students brought together to explore relevant social issues by creating public works of art. The group is sponsored by the Creative Action nonprofit organization in order to get youth more involved with their communities and to help teens express their identity through the creative process of art.

“I’ve always loved to paint and draw and Color Squad gives me a space with other people who like to do the same,” said Dubin. “I get to use my art to add to the culture of Austin.”