What Big Ideas and Passion Will Get You – Your Whaling Wall

What Big Ideas and Passion Will Get You – Your Whaling Wall


Whaling Wall #94

If you have the desire, passion and enthusiasm to do something, nothing in the world will stop you.”  Luke Poyner

Most people give up when things get too hard.  Little do they know, what they want is just around the corner, if only they hang on a little longer.

How hard will you fight for your big ideas?  Does your passion carry you through, or do you give up when the fight gets too tough?

Wyland was passionate about saving whales.  At the age of 22, the Laguna Beach artist was driving down Pacific Coast Highway when his eyes were drawn to a blank wall.  And like a bolt of lightning, he was struck with the vision of a life-sized pod of gray whales painted on the side of that building.

A defining moment in his life, he decided to paint that vision.  He thought it would be a unique way to help save whales.

In order to paint his first Whaling Wall, Wyland ran into exhausting challenges and roadblocks.

  • First, he was broke.  He barely had the money for paint and scaffolding equipment.
  • And then there was his fear of heights.
  • He had never painted anything close to being that big.
  • And he had no experience with public projects.   He needed permits, government approval, applications.

Despite the challenges, Wyland’s passion propelled him forward.   He got the approval of the owner of the building to paint the mural.  Greenpeace loved the idea of saving whales, and in the beginning they helped him navigate the politics and legalities.  He applied to the City of Laguna Beach for approval.

That’s where he ran into a huge, 3 year battle.  The mayor of the City was opposed to a mural on the wall, as were other City groups.

In order to convince the City to say yes to his mural, Wyland had to give numerous presentations to the City and other groups.  It was uncomfortable, disappointing, and sometimes humiliating.  The meetings always ended with a “NO”.  After one too many “no’s” a discouraged Wyland was about to give up.  But one reporter for a local paper, who had been following his story, encouraged him to continue to fight.  And that was the little push he needed to find the energy to continue to persuade the City.

Finally, after a three year battle, in 1981, Wyland was given approval to paint his first Whaling Wall. 

Wyland was now 25 years old.    He was only able to get Sinclair Paint to cover half the cost of the paint, and the building owner wouldn’t even buy him lunch.  He used every last dime he had to cover the cost of painting the wall.  But in thirty days, he happily completed that wall and decided that it was to be the first of 100 walls that he would paint in his lifetime.

After the mural was complete, the entire City, even those originally opposed to it, embraced Wyland’s Whaling Wall and it became a source of pride for Laguna Beach.  (Isn’t it great how people finally come around to see your vision once it’s laid out for them?!)

Since then, Wyland has painted Whaling Walls all over the world.  He kept his promise, and his 100th Whaling Wall was painted at the Beijing Olympics in the summer of 2008.

Little did Wyland know back in 1981, when he decided not to give up the fight with the City, that not only would he eventually get approval to paint his first wall, but that he would be doing something so much larger than just painting a wall.  He would be setting a course for the next 27 years, saving whales, helping cities, and writing himself into history books.

spunk-brophy-head-shotYou, too, can set course for something big, memorable and meaningful.  It all starts with just one wall.

 Spunk Brophy xxoo (Follow me on Twitter!)


*Check out Wyland’s book written in 1995 titled:  “Whale Tales, Tales from America’s Leading Marine Life Artist”.

For some people, a blank wall is frightening.”  Wyland


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  • internet jobs
    Posted at 19:15h, 01 October

    Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.

  • Drew Brophy
    Posted at 08:28h, 08 June

    When I was painting boards in Hawaii, I would walk by Wyland’s gallery on way to the bus stop. One night they were having an artist reception and I wandered in. I was broke and dirty from working, Wyland was wandering around being friendly to everyone, He stopped and talked to me for a while, noticing the paint on my clothes, he asked me about painting surfboards. He told me about his friend and great artist Bill Stewart, who I would later work for. It was the first time I had met a successful artist, It left an impression on me, the conversation was positive and uplifting to a kid with few options or mentors. Shortly after that meeting I got serious about being an artist. Thanks for that conversation, Wyland. It is amazing what a few kind words can do for someone who is lost in the sea life.

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