As part of their Accidental Art project which is aimed at taking art onto the streets, Nando’s flew Colossal Media from the US to Cape Town to translate one of local artist Xolile Mtakatya’s pieces onto a mural. Colossal is renowned for their precise hand-painted murals and outdoor advertisements, and the Accidental Art mural was installed in less than a week by just two Colossal painters, Jason Coatney and Dave Barnett, right outside the Nando’s on Long Street. We chat to Colossal Media co-founder Paul Lindhal about their work around the world, their partnership with Nando’s and Accidental Art.
How, when and why was Colossal started? What inspired you to start a hand painted mural and outdoor advertising company?
We started Colossal 10 years ago this past May. I worked as a walldog all over the US for many different companies since 1996. My partners Adrian Moeller and Pat Elasik had a background in sales and marketing through their magazine Mass Appeal. We started Colossal together in 2004 when the hand painted version of outdoor advertisements was pretty close to extinction. Our timing was both a blessing and a curse in that there was no competition but it was also very difficult since the process was looked at by the industry as dated and difficult to navigate. Fast forward 10 years and there are 35 of us at Colossal, painting murals in 20 cities across the US.
What’s your philosophy at Colossal Media?
Always Hand Paint.
What do you consider the role of public art being?
To get people to stop and smell the roses.
Colossal produces a mammoth amount of work. What have been some of your favorite projects thus far and why?
Every project poses some type of challenge and that’s what continues to drive us. Looking back over so many projects the one thing that carries over every time and that I’m very proud of is the time, dedication, passion, and persistence that’s required of our crew every day to continually execute more and more projects with greater and greater precision.
How do you choose which projects you take on? What’s the criteria?
We try to paint anything and everything as often as possible. The major limiting factor for us is time. We paint over 300 paintings from NY to LA (and sometimes overseas) each year with a crew of 16 painters. Each projects takes an average of 4 days to complete and requires various different skill types and abilities. This week for example we’re in Chicago, Seattle, Austin, Los Angeles, NYC and South Africa.
When and how did your partnership with Nando’s come about?
Colossal Media initially partnered with Nando’s to create a 3.1m x 7.3m site-specific work at Nando’s The Yards restaurant in Washington, DC, USA. This installation also featured a piece by Xolile Mtakatya.
What about the Nando’s Accidental Art project do you find intriguing and exciting?
It’s an amazing opportunity and also exciting to be involved with people who share our appreciation for the arts. It’s also a great challenge to travel to yet another new place, meet new people, gain more experience and find our way through another project.
Take us through your process. How do you go about turning Xolile’s artwork into a massive hand painted mural?
First comes color mixing which we do beforehand at our shop in Brooklyn, NY. Every color in the artwork is isolated and is remixed by hand from scratch. Next we scale the artwork up using a grid system so that it exists as a line drawing in its larger size exactly as it did in the original – we call this technique patterning. After the pattern is completed we begin painting. We’ll match our crew of painters with specific projects based on their background and personal strengths. In this case, for our work in South Africa, Jason Coatney, who has 20 plus years in the industry is leading our efforts with the help of one of our newly graduated and highly talented apprentices Dave Barnett.
What are the materials you’re using for this specific project?
We use all oil based paints – some of them pure, some of them synthetic. We use pure oils for vibrancy and also to slow the pace of the drying time when necessary so that we can blend colors together. We use synthetic oils when we want to speed up dry time which is helpful in graphic applications.
How is this project different from other pieces you’ve done?
In order to keep up with so many deadlines and projects we’ve developed a very specific process that helps to take out some of the variables which help save us a bit of time. We like to say “time is not lost, it’s found.” Working overseas is challenging because everything is new and almost nothing is what we’re accustomed to. It’s interesting though, no matter where we are or how different things are, once we start painting we’re right at home.
How do you hope to see people engaging with your work, specifically this piece?
Hopefully we help turn some heads, create some curiosity and interest for the project.
What’s in the pipeline for Colossal?
We have plans to triple the size of the company over the next five years so first things first, order more paint.
View the mural on the corner of Waterkant Street and Long Street in Cape Town.
See more of Colossal Media’s work on their website.