The ADC Mural
The Art Directors Club of New York, now known mostly as ADC, is one of those organizations that had a massive aura of glory for me when I was an art student. Everything about it said “This is the real deal, kid! This is where the pros go!” That feeling lingers. I was beyond excited when they made me one of their Young Guns, and I didn’t hesitate when they asked me to contribute to their “Wicked Kitsch” Halloween art show.
The call came from Brendan Watson, ADC’s director of education, and Zack Kinslow, their head of event planning. Over the years they had put a lot of energy into creating projects around the Young Guns to foster a sense of community among us, and it was a pleasure to be asked. They were looking to put together an art show to coincide with the big ADC Halloween party.
Really, they were looking for me to send a few original Monster drawings or prints to hang on the wall. But that would’ve been too easy. Instead, I suggested that I fly out to New York paint a Daily Monster mural. As this was “Wicked Kitsch” I wanted to use blacklight paint that would glow under a UV lamp. I also thought it would be fun to project animated eyes into the finished painting. To their credit, Brendan and Zack were not just unfazed by the idea, but genuinely excited and endlessly supportive.
Over the course of two long days I projected a premade Monster drawing onto a giant paper-covered wall, traced it in pencil, and then filled it in with paint. It’s not the most romantic way of painting murals, but it’s extremely efficient. I got most of the work done on the first day, and then added a few finishing touches on the day of the event.
Everything went smoothly but for one significant hiccup. I had animated a loop of eye movements to project on the mural. This loop was based on the design I’d traced onto the paper. Unfortunately, the projector had to be moved between the tracing and the event. We had marked the location with tape, but somehow we couldn’t match the eyes to the finished painting. They were kind of in the right place, but not quite. And that’s the thing with special effects: If you’re going to do something showy, you better get it just right—particularly in a room full of art directors and designers.
We kept moving the projector in search of the sweet spot, but in the end I decided to redo the video loop to match the painting. I hadn’t brought my AfterEffects file, so I cut up the Quicktime loop on one of the ADC computers in their upstairs office, and kept running back down to the projector with a flash drive, nudging the eyes into the correct position one revision at a time. The result was worth it! There is something magical about three goofy eight-foot Monsters coming alive and looking at you as you pass them by. And the blacklight paint made the female Monster’s gown sparkle just as it should for a big social event out on the town!