RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS
Since PSAA is just a small organization, we don’t USUALLY HAVE THE ABILITY TO CONNECT artists TO WALLS. BELOW ARE SOME RESOURCES TO HELP YOU FIND A MURAL SPACE.
Canvasing local businesses who have blank walls is the best way to find a wall to paint in town right now. Most owners are open to the idea, especially to deter graffiti tagging, draw attention to their businesses, and beautify space. PSAA has created this Mural Space Scouting Flyer about the benefits of murals that can be used by artists when approaching businesses. Having something like this to hand-out, along with business cards and photos of your work, is very helpful to have when asking property owners if you can paint a mural on their wall.
BENEFITS OF MURALS
- Murals discourage tagging and vandalism
- Having a mural will save you money over time… less tagging = less buffing
- A protective clear coat can be applied to the mural; limiting fading and making the removal of any future tagging much easier
- Murals call attention to your business
- Murals can be used to promote your products or services
- Murals improve the quality of public space for everyone to enjoy
- Murals create a unique sense of place and community identity
- Murals can showcase Portland’s local artistic talent
- Murals help support the local economy, especially if the muralist is a local artist
- Murals foster neighborhood pride, build neighborhood identity, and are respected by neighbors who often become unofficial stewards and protector
- Neighborhood murals are good for local businesses. A 2008 study looked at 265 commercial corridors in Philadelphia and found that business sales increased with the addition of murals in neighborhoods.
HOW TO PAINT A MURAL IN PORTLAND
IN PORTLAND, GETTING OWNER PERMISSION IS NOT ENOUGH. TO ENSURE YOUR MURAL IS NOT CITED AS BEING ‘GRAFFITI,’ YOU HAVE TO EITHER GET A CITY PERMIT OR WAIVER.
A helpful resource to understanding these two avenues is the Paint Our Town zine. Please contact the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) to get a copy.
TWO OFFICAL OPTIONS
OPTION 1: GET A CITY MURAL PERMIT
- Start process at least 1-2 months before painting
- Mural Permit Fee (usually $50)
- Fill out mural permit application
- Host a ‘neighborhood meeting’ in a public place
- Design review not required (finished murals are inspected to ensure they’re not ads)
- Murals can only be painted on certain types of properties (check with the city)
- Artist keeps VARA rights
See the City of Portland’s website for more details and downloadable applications.
OPTION 2: GET A RACC WAIVER
- Get an art easement from RACC
- No fee
- If approved, RACC provides matching funding
- Community support needed
- Mural design must be submitted beforehand
- Design reviewed by RACC's Design Review Committee
- RACC can approve murals in all areas of the city
- Artist must waive VARA rights
- Mural becomes a part of the City’s public art collection
See the RACC’s website for more details and downloadable applications.
WHY PORTLAND HAS THESE REGULATIONS
At one time, artists could paint murals in Portland with a simple agreement between themselves and the building owner, as is the case in many other U.S. cities.
In 1998, the City of Portland was thrust into a lengthy and complicated legal battle with AK Media (a company later absorbed by Clear Channel).
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a handful of art advocates who pushed for the art of mural-making to be recognized, in 2005, RACC began its Public Art Mural Program. In 2009, following the closing of the Clear Channel trial, and the judge’s decision (in 2007), the City of Portland’s new mural program was created.
Until those two pathways were forged, community murals were either not painted, or were done without City permission, thereby risking citations and fines for building owners being out of compliance with the City’s sign code.
Today in Portland, you must obtain a permit from the City of Portland, or go through the Regional Arts & Culture Council to paint an official mural. Un-permitted murals run the risk of being classified as ‘graffiti’ and removed by Portland’s Graffiti Abatement Program.
Both the existing mural programs have certain requirements. The City of Portland’s mural permitting process requires a fee and a neighborhood meeting. The RACC waiver is a more comprehensive mural proposal submission and funding opportunity that, if approved, the mural is added to the City’s public art collection, ensuring that the artwork is exempt from the City’s sign code and will be enjoyed by future generations to come.
The existing systems work, and many murals have been painted since the drought of mural art in the late 1990s and early 2000s, however, there are many ways that certain types of artistic expression are still burdened.
MURAL CREATION BEST PRACTICES
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has created this helpful guide covering the stages of mural creation, including wall selection, surface preparation, painting, coating, and maintenance.