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Mural Making Tips part one: Designing with Clients, Creating Estimates and Mocking Up Ideas

As an artist I've learned a lot about making murals through experience, experimentation, and collaboration with others.  I've written about managing the production of large outdoor projects on my blog here.  In this post, I'd like to dive into some details about the design process beforehand and the steps I take in preparation to paint a mural. 

  1. First, visit the actual site of the mural when developing the design.  This will help you determine your equipment needs (ladder, lift or scaffolding?) and most likely, an in-person visit will help inspire the design of the mural too. 


  1. Write an estimate for your client.  How? Either break down the expenses by category, or offer part of your estimate per square foot (combining materials and artist fee together).

Take the following into consideration: design time, revisions to the design, equipment needs, materials, variables of job site itself (indoor or outdoor?), size of the wall and ideal production time frame.   

NOTE: Always get a retainer for your work before you begin your sketches of the mural.  This formalizes the artist-client relationship, and helps pay for materials and your time creating concepts for phase one one the project.


  1. Pitch several ideas to the client, (these can be in writing and/or with visual aids) and ask them to pick their top three to four and pay your retainer.  Once they do that, make the sketches of the selected concepts. I often create 3-5 drawings before narrowing it down to one idea based on the client's preferences. 

I create most of my sketches for murals using my IPad on a program called Procreate.  I draw with my apple pencil on a separate layer on top a photo of the actual site of the mural.  This is effective in demonstrating the concept, detail, and scale of the overall project.  


  1. Make sure that the chosen idea is drawn clearly, and that it accurately reflects the style before starting the mural.  This will help illustrate your distinct idea to the client, plus it will allow you to make accurate decisions when planning what paint colors you'll need to buy. 

 Stay tuned on my next post where I'll discuss picking colors, and techniques for paint application, and more. 

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