Drew Brophy and the WD Fan Night Mural Painting CES2014“I always wanted my father to be proud of my work.  It felt good being back at home, after all these years, and having him watch me do what I do for a living.  This painting was the last one my father got to see me create.”  Drew Brophy

In December, Western Digital (WD) asked me to paint a mural to put on display at their big party, the WDFanNight event in Las Vegas during CES2014.

At the time, I didn’t realize just how special the memory of creating this painting would become for me.

I was on an extended stay at my parents’ home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  My father was very sick, and Maria and I were helping my mom take care of him.  We brought our work with us across country, and I transformed my parents’ garage into my working studio and went to work!

I built five canvas frames, each one 6′ x 2′, designed that way so the mural would be easy to transport.

This was painted with a variety of mediums; first the background, using Mtn94 Spray Paint.  Then acrylic paints, applied with brushes, to get greater texture.  Then I used airbrush and Uni Posca Paint pens for the finer details.

WD wanted a surf painting in my traditional style, with symbolism that was relevant to their products, which is hard drives.  Hard drives hold things that you want to keep forever.  When I think of things that last forever, I think of ancient times and things that were made in stone.  In a way, hard drives hold information that is saved and passed down.  All of my art is saved on hard drives; it’s like my safety deposit box.  The art will be passed down to my son, and his kids as well.  So in this painting, the character is carving a WD in stone.

One of the best photographers in the area, Scott Smallin, came by every day during the painting of this mural to capture the progress on video and pictures.  Scott became a good friend and someone to lean on, as the days went on and my father got sicker.

I always wanted my father to be proud of my work.  It felt good being back at home, after all these years, and having him watch me do what I do for a living.  This painting was the last one my father got to see me create.

Here’s the video of me painting the mural.  Photo and video credit to Scott Smallin, video editing by Don Perry, music by Brian ILL:


Winding down from our five month trip across country, Maria and I decided to spend a week in Florida before driving back to San Clemente, California.

One of our Florida stops was to spend a few days at tattoo artist Mark Longenecker’s.

Mark is the guy I gave my first tattoo to (and my last), a couple years ago.

He’s the only person who could talk me into holding a tattoo machine and actually doing it.

Over the years, we’ve painted Escape Camper vans together and created tattoo flash together.

This time, Mark and I decided to paint a mural on the side of his Endless Summer Tattoo Shop.  The wall is facing A1A, the perfect place to put a mural.

Over wine the night before, Mark and I sat down and tried to brainstorm a design.  We threw out a few ideas.  We knew we wanted a wave and a sun.  But in the end, we decided to just wing it.

Collaboration with Mark Longenecker

The next day we laid out 120 cans of Mtn 94 Montana Spray paint and went to work on it.

While we painted, people were driving by on A1A honking their horns and yelling out the window, stoked.

The mural turned out pretty good – and we got it done in about eight hours.

Here’s a video of us painting it that Mark put together with his Go Pro:

ENDLESS SUMMER TATTOO MURAL, COCOA BEACH – Please leave a comment if you like it.

Life is Good – Drew

After this mural was painted, Drew and I both were exhausted, so much so that it took us a few weeks to get the photos together so we could post this!

Painting the biggest wave ever seen in Myrtle Beach! Day 10 of 13.

Thirteen days, 400 pounds of spray paint and a lot of Lulu’s Sandwiches fueled the painting of this mural!

Ian, mastering the bubbles

Ian Orsos, a local Myrtle Beach artist, helped Drew with moving the scaffolding, organizing the paints, and some of the painting, too.  We were lucky to have him!


Drew and Ian painted in the hot, sticky, South Carolina sun over a span of two weeks.

This was, without a doubt, the most publicized project we ever worked on.

It was featured on the evening tv news three times, in the Sun Newspaper twice and on the cover of The Herald News.  This project is also being written about in Grand Strand Magazine and on a number of online magazines, including The Digitel Myrtle Beach.


PHOTO CREDIT:  Photos taken by Gregory Letts, local Myrtle Beach Photographer.   Visit Greg’s website here!

To see the Photo Slideshow, Click Here.  Here’s a post on the First six days of painting Lulu’s Mural (with more detail).

“When you set a goal, you usually hit it.”  Drew Brophy says of determining what he’s going to accomplish each morning before he starts on a project.

Drew’s busy painting this huge wall mural, so he asked me to write this post for him!

Drew was commissioned to paint a mural on the side of Lulu’s Cafe in downtown Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The owner, Misty, wanted to transform her restaurant’s 61′ x 16′ wall which faces the main Ocean Blvd.

To see the Photo Slideshow, Click Here.

To see an amazing time-lapse video by The Digitel of the first few days, Click here.

THE DESIGN:  Misty and Drew decided upon a theme of “A day at the Beach” where the mural would depict the elements that make Myrtle Beach special.  Everything in the sketch is meaningful to this area, right down to the turtles and the banner plane.

THE PAINT:  We started this project by ordering 404 cans of Mtn 94 Spray paint, in over 60 different colors!

The paint shipped from San Francisco and arrived 8 days later to Myrtle Beach on a pallet weighing 440 pounds.

Drew prefers Montana Mtn 94 spray paint because it dries fast, holds up great in weather and the colors are vibrant and bright, much like the Uni Poscas that he likes to paint surfboards with.

Below is a recap of the first six days of the mural painting.  Drew still has about six more days to paint, if everything continues to go smoothly.

(DON’T MISS this amazing Time-Lapse of the beginning phase of the mural, generously shot by The Digitel Myrtle Beach:  Artist Drew Brophy Mural Time Lapse  )


The Mural Map

DAY 1:

GOAL – Break it all down into a grid so that the art is applied in proportion.  Apply chalk lines in a one-foot by one-foot grid on the entire wall.

It took over six hours, just to chalkline the wall.  Drew and his Dad worked at it together, using rickety ladders, and climbing up and down the roof.

We didn’t rent the double decker scaffolding, as we didn’t think we’d need it yet.  In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to have on day 1!

Why did Drew create one-foot squares rather than two-foot squares?  He said that it would make his job easier on Day 2 to have smaller squares – it would be clearer where to intersect the elements of the outline.

The grid is Drew’s map, which he will refer to a lot in the next 2 days.


Day 2 – Painting the sketch outline

DAY 2:

GOAL – To get the entire mural sketch transposed onto the wall.  Also, to work out the logistics and problems (such as scaffolding) so that on Day 3 the painting could flow.

There are things y0u don’t think of when painting a mural of this proportion.  For example, the scaffolding.  Someone has to build it.  And that someone is you, or in this case, Drew!

Before he could even begin the sketch on the wall, he had to get the scaffolding up.  And wouldn’t you know, the rented equipment didn’t come with pins in the wheels!  Rather than allow that to slow him down,  Drew stuffed screwdrivers in there instead, and taped them on.  You have to be resourceful!

Then we ran into another problem – the scaffolding wasn’t rolling because the space against the wall is dirt, with big potholes left from the people who dug out the bushes.  At one point the scaffolding came crashing down and luckily, there were people there to help catch it.

Now, onto the most important goal of the day:  transferring the “map” of the sketch onto the wall.

It was crucial here that Drew matched the squares in proper proportion.  It was painstaking and time-consuming, working in sections, Drew holding the gridline map in one hand while “sketching” on the wall with spray paint in the other.

Drew discovered that he had to change one thing in the sketch – the dolphin had to be smaller than planned, because his nose was being cut off.

Interviewed for the evening news

DAY 3:

GOAL – Get left side of mural color filled in; solve the problem with the scaffolding

We brought rakes this day and got all the pine needles swept out so the scaffolding would move easier.   The weather was so hot we must have drank twenty gallons of water.

It was a Friday right before the holiday weekend, so a lot of random friends, fans and family members stopped by to watch.

A TV crew came from a local news channel, so Drew took a little time out for an interview.  It aired later that day on the 6:00 o’clock news!  Watch the video of it here.

It was an exhausting day for Drew, climbing up and down the scaffolding all day in the blazing hot sun and humidity.  It was very physical work, and he realized that he needed more help to conserve his energy for painting.  So we hired someone to come and help Drew the rest of the week.

Drew reached his goal; he got most of the color on the left side.  That night, we camped out under the stars with family and enjoyed paddleboarding under the blue moon.

Drew and Maria enjoying the progress

DAY 4:

GOAL – Get right side of mural color filled in.

We camped out the night before, and were feeling a little less eager to work today!   But, we rallied and got to the Wall about 10:00 a.m. for another full day in the sun.

We hired a local artist named Ian to help.  His job, as I put it to him, was to be right next to Drew every moment, ready to hand him a color, help him move the scaffolding, and to help set up and tear down each day.

It was a huge help having Ian there.  His assistance meant Drew would have to climb up and down the scaffolding less, and would be able to use more energy for painting.

First order of the day was to organize the colors and sort the caps.  It’s crucial to have a clean cap ready when doing detail.  If you’re disorganized and your dirty caps get mixed with clean ones, you may have a problem.

Dad painted the sandcastle and the sand today.  I think he had fun using the spray paints, though later that night he said his fingers hurt!

Caps make all the difference

DAY 5:

GOAL –   Fill in the color of the water, on the bottom; work on the wave

Since he was focused on the bottom part of the wall today, he would be on the scaffolding less.  So Drew was happy that he could wear his Keen Flip Flops with the toe protector, instead of those hot hiking boots he had been wearing every day!

This was Sunday of a three day weekend, so there were a lot of people checking out the mural.  Drew’s nice and says hello to everyone, but it was slowing him down quite a bit.

We put out postcards with information about Drew for people to take, since so many showed interest in knowing more about him.

The Sun News Myrtle Beach came and did a story on Drew and the mural.  There were also a few magazines taking photos and lining up interviews.

DAY 6:

GOAL – Paint the surfer on the wave, start adding other details

Ian has worked out to be a huge help.  Painting a mural this size, in the blazing hot sun and humidity, takes it’s toll physically.  Ian saved Drew a lot of energy by handing him paints up on the scaffolding, helping him move things around and he even helped painting.

On this day, a local TV news Anchor, the beautiful Lisa Edge, came by and interviewed Drew.  It aired on the evening news Channel 15.  Click here to watch.

WHAT’S NEXT:  About 6 more days to completion.  We will post an update after it’s finished.

Please, leave your comments or questions for Drew in the comments!

PHOTO CREDIT:  Most photos were taken by Gregory Letts, local Myrtle Beach Photographer.  His photos have his watermark.  Visit Greg’s website here!

As an artist, I am always looking for inspiration.

I often get asked “how do you make a living as an artist?

In the last few years the economy was difficult and the old ways of doing business didn’t work anymore.  I see a new way of doing business going forward.

Big companies are cutting back, many people are losing their jobs and I can’t rely on corporations to keep me afloat with commissions anymore.

The people who have kept us in business during the lean years are the entrepreneurs, the do-it-yourselfers, the people who are creating their own opportunities, and in effect, ours too.

I’m inspired by individuals who refuse to give up on their dreams and who make things happen, instead of looking for a handout from someone else.

In our business I see people like this who inspire me every day.  Davon Julius’ Pipeline Catering project is a perfect example of American ingenuity and grass-roots entrepreneurship.

Davon had a bold idea:  He saw an opportunity to create a mobile restaurant that caters to pipeline workers in a rural area of Utah.  He envisioned transforming an 18 wheeler into a kitchen and café where he could set up in remote areas where workers needed to be fed.

This is where I came in.  Davon wanted to make his café stand out on the side of the road.  He came up with the idea to hire me to paint flaming pigs on the side of his trailer.

(You can watch the painting of it in a short video titled Drew Brophy Paints a 53′ Flaming Pig Mural on a Tractor Trailer)

At the bottom of this post, there’s a “narrated” slideshow detailing the painting with captions explaining the steps.

I first met Davon a year ago when I standup paddled 225 miles of the Colorado River.  He was one of the rafters going down the river with my group.  A chef by trade, he took charge of our meals for the 16 days of camping alongside the rivers of the Grand Canyon.  We ate well!

Painting a 53 foot mural is a huge project, and I had to travel to Utah to do it.  Davon saw the value that a mural would bring to his business, and so he didn’t flinch at the cost.  We made a family trip of it, and off to Utah we went.

I feel so blessed that through my work and lifestyle, I am able to reconnect with these great people I met while paddling the Colorado River last year, and that I’m able to take my family to meet them.

This is what I envisioned my life to be so many years ago:  my work, family and travel life all together as one big adventure.

We arrived in Salt Lake City and Davon had parked the trailer in a dusty, plowed field behind his home.  He was working hard building the kitchen and he expressed that friends were concerned about what the hell he was doing.  They didn’t get his vision.

Often, people with big ideas find themselves alone until after all the hard work is done, then everyone else can see the beauty in it.

I told Davon “Don’t worry, after today, people are going to get it.  This is going to transform instantly, as soon as I start painting.”

Initially, my goal was to have it started and completed in five days.  Below is the breakdown of the process of the mural painting:

Materials Needed:  200 cans of Mtn 94 Spray paint – Iwata airbrush and paints – scaffolding – blue tape – Aerial 7 headphones for music – sandpaper – razorblades – rulers –

DAY 1:  My goal on Day 1 was to map out the sketch and have base colors on the entire surface of the trailer.

Davon had pre-scuffed the surface, taped off the edges and was busy preparing last minute dents and holes.

Dylan and I began chalk-lining gridlines so that I could transpose the sketch onto the huge surface as Maria unloaded the 200 cans of Mtn 94 spray paint that was going to make all of this possible.

It was hot, but I dressed in a hoody, with a respirator, headphones and gloves.  I put on the astro-fat caps that allow me to put down massive amounts of paint quickly.

For the rest of the day I blasted music along with paint.  Davon was amazed that by the end of Day 1, all the color was on!

Day 2:  This was an easy day.  The weather was hot and sunny. It was record highs for Utah in April.  Day 1 all the base colors were mid-tone, and on Day 2 I added the lights and darks.

This day went remarkably well, and I was thinking that I might get this finished in three days instead of five.  That was before I knew the weather that was about to hit us.

Day 3:  This day started out beautiful with sunny skies.  A storm was coming, but I was hopeful that we may miss the weather and still get this done on Day 3.

Dylan kept busy by playing with the chickens and wild roosters in the field.  All day long those roosters were crowing.

I broke out the Iwata airbrush and started adding detail to the funny characters; the buzzard, the pigs and the rattlesnake.  This was the fun part!

Then, about noon, the sky turned black.  Davon, always prepared, had huge tarps ready to go on the roof of the trailer.  We got ready for the rain by throwing down the tarps.  Just then, the wind picked up at 40-50 miles per hour, throwing Davon and I around like rag-dolls across the field.  It was gnarly!

It took us the rest of the day just to secure and protect the mural from the extreme weather.  We were exhausted.  There went my plan to finish early!

Day 4:  Was a bummer.  Water was leaking all over the mural.  It was a constant battle of man vs. rain.  The wind was so violent that it threw cinder blocks off of the roof of the trailer, almost killing us.  The temperature dropped so much that I had to wear gloves because my hands were cold.

I didn’t get much painting done on Day 4.  It was a losing battle.  I decided to go inside and make stencils for the lettering.

It’s funny, people will ask me how I make things like my stencils, and the answer is surprisingly simple.

The stencils are made with simple construction paper, a pencil, a razor blade and tape.  These are the tools that I used to make my stencils.  No fancy machine that cuts out lettering for me.  I’m amazed that in this computer age so many young artists don’t know how to use a ruler, simple math and a razor blade.

I cut the stencils out to scale perfectly.  It took a lot of time and patience and focus.  But in the end, it worked.

Day 5:  We were staying at Davon’s mom’s awesome mountain house in Park City.  The morning of Day 5 we woke up to beautiful snow covering my van and the world outside.  Our commute to Salt Lake City was about 35 minutes each way, and the drive is on beautiful mountain roads.

But down in Salt Lake City, the rain and wind were still a problem.

I was determined to get this finished today.  Working underneath the tarp was super difficult.  But we had no choice.

The finished mural!

Davon did everything he could to stop the rain from getting in.  He bought more tarps and parked his truck on the tarps so they wouldn’t blow away.  We collected every rock, board and heavy object from the field and placed them on the tarp, trying to hold it down.

I finished the detail work with the airbrush.  The final thing to do was spray the lettering.  The custom-made stencils worked beautifully.

After spraying the stencils, I re-taped the lettering, adding a background behind the lettering.  This detail added depth and energy to the lettering.

One of the most fun things was pulling the tape.  Davon pulled the tape to reveal the name, PIPELINE CATERING, on the side of his new restaurant!

Just then, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  The storm was over.  We went up to the roof of the trailer and kicked the tarp off to see the finished mural from afar, for the first time.

It was awesome to see the results of our hard work.

The mural was finished in five days.

PARTYTIME!  That night, we celebrated at Davon’s mom, Shelly’s, home.  She also was on the Grand Canyon river trip last year, and she and her husband Barry hosted a party with almost all of the 14 people that were on that trip.  We watched Go Pro video of our adventure down the Colorado River and talked story all night.

It was so great to reconnect with these wonderful people and let them meet my family.  This is what life is all about.

I was honored to paint this mural for Davon’s project and see how one man’s dream and hard work materializes right in front of your eyes.  The restaurant is finished, and now people “get it”!

I’m sure Davon is working hard in his restaurant right now, feeding hungry workers.  If you happen to drive through Northern Utah, and you see flaming pigs, stop and get a bite to eat!

Life is Good – Drew