public art

Sanctuary Printshop goes on a night mission to give Sixth Street a hand-painted facelift

Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_sanctuary mural_aug 2012_afar
Photo by Anthony Sanchez
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_sanctuary mural_aug 2012_blank wall
Courtesy of Google Maps
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_sanctuary mural_aug 2012_progress
Courtesy of Sanctuary Printshop
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_sanctuary mural_aug 2012_detail
Photo by Anthony Sanchez
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_sanctuary mural_aug 2012_signature
Photo by Anthony Sanchez

If you're a night owl, maybe you caught a glimpse of Sanctuary Printshop's recent night mission. But chances are you were snoozing like the rest of us as the artists of Sanctuary took to a giant, unloved, eyesore of a wall on Sixth Street and painted a mural in honor of our music-loving city.

The entire project was conducted from the hours of 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. over the course of a week. The team employed a technique called "pouncing," meaning the artists first outlined the design using a graphite powder and then hand painted the whole damn thing.

So, why did they do this? Because they wanted to give back. And they're talented. And it sure looks a heck of a lot better than that old, white wall (next slide), doesn't it?

We were so taken with the project, which was inspired by one Sanctuary designer's trip through tiny towns in West Texas, that we asked owner Jed Taylor how it all went down.

Was it difficult to get permission from the city? Were they glad or shocked that someone noticed an opportunity for artistic improvement?

We've worked with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau and Downtown Austin Alliance on a few designs and projects before. So when we presented the idea of painting a mural, they immediately got on board.

The alliance gave Sanctuary complete creative freedom in designing the mural. Our creative team had a vision for the mural to be uniquely Austin and showcase how creative and artistic this town is.

It turned out exactly how we envisioned, and we loved working with the city to make it happen. 

How many people were on the project and how did you manage to keep the daytime business afloat?

It took four artists from Sanctuary one week to complete the project, working every night from 9 p.m.- 3 a.m.

The rest of the Sanctuary team (five more people) held down the daily operations at our studio. Like every project we do, it was a complete team effort. 

What happens when and if it's affected by urbanism; i.e., graffiti, etc. Is that just part of the evolutionary process?

Our goal is for the mural to be up for a minimum of three years before we need to touch it up. This mural is our baby, and we will do our best to maintain it. 

Our hope is that graffiti and street artists would respect the artistic integrity of the piece, and how it represents Austin. We understand graffiti will come and go, but note that our team painted this entire piece at night.

Don't think we won't be keeping an eye on it.

What is it that you feel is so special about public art like this?

Austin is beautiful and this corner of I-35 and 6th Street really needed a hug. That area has developed a bad reputation over the past few years, yet there are so many great businesses and people in that neighborhood. 

It's fun to inject a hand-painted work into an overly produced landscape, especially when done by local artists. We having to keep showcasing how artistic and creative Texas is. 


Be sure to keep your eyes peeled at the corner of Sixth Street and I-35, and take a good look at the mural that gives an old-fashioned nod to our town heritage. 

We predict it's soon to be Austin's hottest photo-op.