With Mike & Mickie Cooper

 Editor's Note: Mike & Mickie Cooper own Murals & More LLC in Franklin, Tenn., 20 minutes south of Nashville. Mike has been painting murals professionally for more than 25 years, with hundreds of exterior and interior murals under his belt. Both Mike and his wife, Mickie, have been teaching mural classes all over the country as well as in their studio in Franklin. They make a unique team in that they are right- and left-brained. (We will let you figure out which one is which.) In this column for Focus on Faux, they are providing lively commentary and also hope to dispel any myths about the illustrious world of mural painting. Mike and Mickie invite you to send questions about the industry and try your best to stump them! Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put "Fresh Perspective" in the subject line.




How Long Does It Take to Design and Paint a Mural?

You know, we get some of the most stupid questions sometimes from potential clients. Now, I say “stupid,” because, well, they are. Like, “How long does it take to design and paint a mural?”

Really?? Seriously?! Think about it. You might as well be asking, “How long does it take to design and build a house?” Well, how big do you want the house? How many people will be living in it? What do you want the house to be made of? Where will it be located? How many stories? Do you want a copy or an original? What style do you want represented? And most importantly, what is your budget?

See?? It’s really not all that different from what we do. Can you imagine the look on an architect’s face if that question was asked of them? Oh, who am I kidding? It’s asked all of the time. Why? Because, to quote Jeff Foxworthy, “You can’t fix ‘stupid.’ ” Well, you can’t paint it either.

In fact, show them how inane the question is, in your own sweet and lovable way. As an analogy, ask the client, “How long does it take to design and build a car?” Really? What kind of car? How big is it? How detailed? How many passengers? One of a kind? Or lots of copies? And of course, how many colors? See the quandary? Your job as a professional is to ask the right questions in order to elicit the right answers, so that “stupid” doesn’t enter the picture.

Craft your questions beforehand, as part of the initial interview phase. I’m sure that most of them can be used for most situations. How will the mural be used? Is this interior or exterior? What condition is the wall? How is it constructed? Who do you want impacted by the artwork? Who is going to be viewing it? Adults? Children? If it’s in a neighborhood, will there be a buy-in from the residents? Do they need input in the design? Do you have a list of references that need to be represented in the mural? What about diversity? And most important, what is the budget?

It is absolutely fine—in fact, it is necessary—to ask the client how much they want to spend on a mural! Turn their question back on them! How much do they want to spend?! $500? $5,000? $50,000? As a professional, it’s your job to try and design a piece that fits their budget. If it’s not reasonable, then tell them upfront and save everyone a whole lot of time and trouble. But also tell them what you feel should be a reasonable budget for your work, as it applies to what they’re looking for, so that they can have a goal.

Or they can always hire their brother-in-law. Hey—everyone’s a muralist, right?