Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.
Julia: Friends, I’m excited to introduce you to somebody from my neck of the proverbial woods. She is in Provo, which is in Utah. We’re basically like an hour or something apart, but it feels like we’re close. It just depends on I-15 traffic. Hayley, tell us about yourself, where you are, which I already introduced you on that, and then your business.
Hayley: My name is Hayley Barry. I’m a hand lettering artist and graphic designer from Provo, Utah. I specialize in creating custom design work for clients all over the United States that involves hand lettering. I know a lot of people don’t even know what that is, but basically, it’s just, I draw the alphabet. And so, if someone needs a custom logo or a mural or whatever, I design it all by hand, I draw words, essentially. But they’re all very custom and very special. I’ve been doing that for five years, freelance.
Julia: That’s awesome. How did you get into this?
Hayley: I had been drawing my entire life. I always knew I wanted to be an illustrator. I grew up knowing I wanted to do illustration in some capacity. But when I was in high school, I always drew stuff, right? I drew people, like your cars, I could draw anything. I was really good, but I could also draw the alphabet. I had this job when I was in high school working in an antique store, and one day my boss was like, “Hey, can you make a little sign for this couch? This is 25% off.” And so I “hand lettered”, I say that in air quotes, the words. I drew the word. Instead of just writing it, I drew it and made it look really nice. I think there was a little finger pointing at one of the words like you’d see on a western sign or something, and I just did it. And my boss says, “Oh my gosh, I had no idea you knew how to do hand lettering.”
That was the first time I had ever thought about hand lettering being its own thing. In my mind, I just thought, well, if I can draw all this other stuff, of course, I should be able to draw words. And that was the first time I realized that, hey, wait a minute, this isn’t just something everyone knows how to do. This is actually something that’s kind of tricky, and I’m pretty good at it. I was always interested in that kind of thing, and so I just started learning more and more about it and paying more attention to stuff, and just drawing and doing signs more. And that’s how it came to be.
My boss started having me do way more signs for the shop, and sometimes people would come in and try to buy the sign that said “sale” or whatever. They were like, “How much for this?” And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s crazy.” But that’s when I realized, okay, this is a form of illustration that really combines drawing with design. It’s very practical and it’s very applicable, and it’s something that there’s a ton of uses for. So that’s how I got started in it.
Julia: I love it. I would like to think that I was good at it, but I’m really not. I look like a third grader who draws bubble letters. That’s what mine looks like.
Hayley: No big deal.
Julia: And so one of the things that we’re gonna talk about today is how you use this for murals. How did you get into doing murals?
Hayley: Yeah, that’s a great question. I had been sign painting for a while. I went from hand lettering to sign painting, and I wanted to paint a mural. The funny thing about, I guess clients in general, regardless of what business you’re in, people are gonna associate you with specific things. And I always tell people that are starting out, I always say, “Your clients don’t have a good imagination.” So my clients were seeing me paint signs, and so they were like, “Oh, she does signs.” And really, the skill that is required to paint a sign and to paint a mural is the same. They’re no different. But because I had never actually painted straight on a wall, no one was hiring me to do murals.
And so I thought, well, people don’t realize I can also paint a mural, so I need to do one, so that people will know, oh, hey, this girl paints murals, as well as signs. I didn’t wanna do one for free because I don’t believe in working for free, I don’t believe in doing that kind of stuff. But I figured, okay, I need to paint a mural that’s in a real store, a real place where people are actually gonna see it. It needs to be big and it needs to be a style that I love. How am I gonna do that? And so what I decided to do is I put a post on Instagram that said, “Win a Wall.” And I said, “Hey, guys, for a limited time only, I’m opening up applications. If you are a business in Utah with a blank wall and you want a free mural, fill out this application. I’m gonna be interviewing businesses and picking a lucky winner.” And even though I had never painted a mural before, I had like 10 to 12 really great businesses in Utah all fill that.
Julia: That’s awesome.
Hayley: But the thing that was awesome about it is it wasn’t someone coming to me and saying, “Hey, I want you to do free work and this is what I want.” I was the one doing the vetting. And so I was able to talk to these different businesses and see which one was gonna be the best fit for me, and to make sure that I was in control of the project. So part of it was I told them, “I will hand letter the phrase that you want, but I get complete control over the style. I wanna have complete control over the design of it.” And so I ended up picking Waffle Love, which if you’re in Utah, you totally know Waffle Love.
Julia: No way!
Hayley: They were the ones I did my first mural for.
Julia: Oh, my gosh! I love Waffle Love.
Hayley: People love Waffle Love. So I went to one of their locations up in Salt Lake. I forget which part of Salt Lake, honestly. Anywho, but I went up and I got to paint my first mural. It was awesome, and then I just took lots of pictures. That’s another thing I always recommend to people, is if you didn’t take a picture, it didn’t happen. So I took lots of pictures, but as soon as I put those up on my website, people were like, “Oh, she does murals. Awesome.” And I started getting hired for mural jobs. So that’s how I got started in murals. But really, making the transition from a sign to a mural is no different. It’s the exact same techniques you use for both. One is just a lot bigger .
Julia: I love it. I love it. And I love Waffle Love. So that is awesome.
Hayley: I’m still good friends with the Waffle Love people. I always love everything they do.
Julia: I just love all of their business stuff.
Hayley: Shout to [inaudible].
Julia: So tell me, obviously these were all businesses that applied to “Win a Wall.” Other businesses who might choose to do a mural, why would they choose to do one?
Hayley: Well, there’s a few really good reasons, I believe, to do a mural, and I think it’s more important now than ever before. So the first thing that a mural does is it creates another touch point for your brand. So anyone that’s involved in marketing knows about the importance of brand touchpoints. So whether it’s your website, or a business card, or the way that an employee interacts with you, these are all things that are building one giant brand and the way that this company is perceived, who they are. And so a big visual element of that can be a mural.
So if you’re a restaurant or something and people come in, and you just have a plain restaurant with nothing on the walls, they’re not really forming any deep connections with the feeling of your restaurant or with what the experience is going to be actually eating the food. But if you come in and there’s this really awesome mural that’s explaining the process of how they source their products and how they make the food, and it’s visually engaging, and it’s high quality, already, you are more invested in this experience in the restaurant than you were before.
So a mural is just like any other part of visual branding. It’s there to enforce your client experience, right? And so that, I think, is the most important thing, is it’s just a very high impact way to engage with your customers and to show who you are as a business.
But the other really good thing about a mural in 2022 is that, let’s be real, a lot of people nowadays, they go to businesses, they pick the businesses they work with, or they go to a physical location because there’s something experiential about it. Nowadays, especially with online shopping being so big, you can just order your clothes online, You can order your food to be brought to you. Any product or service, you can really do it remotely. So it’s more important than ever to create an experience that’s going to make your client want to visit your place, and murals are a huge thing.
We live in the age of Instagram, social media. So if your store is beautiful, whether it’s a restaurant or a clothing store, anything, if it’s beautiful, that’s just one more reason for people to wanna go visit. I have a friend named Ariana. She’s my best friend, and she’s 100% one of those people. She picks her restaurants to go to based on the cute restaurant. It’s not like, “Oh, I read these food reviews and they were so good.” It’s, “Oh, Hayley, let’s go to this French place. It’s so cute, and we can get a cute picture.” And so as silly as it sounds, that’s actually a really big thing. So if you have a beautiful mural, that’s just one more reason that people are gonna wanna go in and see it, and maybe share about it or talk about it. It’s an easy thing to take a picture by, and to say, “Oh my gosh, I went to this place and it was awesome.”
I also do a lot of murals that are, what’s the best way to explain it? Meant to interact with people. So maybe there’ll be words surrounding a spot where a person stands. So it’s built just for taking pictures and stuff, which nowadays actually is huge. So that’s a really big reason to have a mural.
Another thing is just employee morale. I do a lot of murals for big tech startups, and the fact is none of the clients are ever gonna go into those buildings. So in those cases, the murals are there to make the workplace more inspiring, more beautiful, and a place where employees are excited to go to work, are more happy in their surroundings and more inspired in their surroundings. So really, there’s a lot of really good reasons to have a mural. But I think the biggest ones are, it’s just a way to engage either with your clients, your customers and your employees.
Julia: I love it. What I think is really cool is that the first mural you described about production or how things are made, that’s very educational. But moving into experience, I used to work at this craft cocktail bar, but it was like, make an art project and then also drink a cocktail. They used wallpaper for a lot of backdrops. But seriously, people would come in and take pictures because we had tons of photo ops. What’s awesome is that then that also creates really good user-generated social media con – it trickles out. Where people enjoy coming because of the experience, but then you’re also getting almost free publicity, in a way.
Hayley: Yeah, exactly. If you have a space where people want to be, then it’s just gonna work for itself. People are gonna talk about it, people are gonna invite their friends to come back. And in the end, if you’re a business, it’s going to make you more money, and it’s going to help establish you as an expert in your field.
Another thing I like to say, because a lot of times people ask me, they say, okay, but why does it need to be a mural? We can do vinyl, we can do whatever. Vinyl peels off. I cannot tell you how many businesses I have been in that have a pretty good looking vinyl design on their wall, but there’s letters missing, and they just haven’t ever bothered to redo it. And it’s like, okay, if you wanna be cheap, if you want people to associate your business with being cheap, with being kind of half-assed, then that’s fine. But if you want the real deal, that’s what a hand painted mural is gonna get you. And people can tell the difference. That’s something that’s always amazing.
I’ve been at places where I’ve painted murals and I’ve seen clients or customers go up to the mural, they don’t know I’m there, and I’ve seen them touch it and say to their date or whatever, “Babe, this is actually painted on the wall.” And so people do. They notice, and they care about it.
Julia: Well, it is unique too. Anybody could put vinyl letters on the wall. So tell me about the process, how do you settle on a design? How long does it take you? Walk me through that.
Hayley: So murals are super unique because every space is different, every need is different. Like we were talking about before, sometimes the purpose of a mural maybe is just to be beautiful, maybe it’s to inspire employees, or maybe it’s educational, where it’s actually teaching something. So every situation is different, but typically when I’m working with a client, what we do is we sit down and we talk about all that. We talk about the space, we say, okay, is this a brick wall? Is it interior? Is it exterior? We go over logistics, and then we talk about their needs; who is their target audience? Who is this mural for? What goals does this mural need to accomplish? How do we know if this mural is successful or not? How are we gonna actually measure that, if it’s something that was worth it? And then we talk about their brand for their business. Do they have a style guide? Do they have a visual identity already in place? What do we wanna be showing here?
And then what I do is typically with clients, I’ll come up with three or four different design options. So I’ll say, okay, based on what we talked about, here’s a few options. Maybe sometimes we only do two options, maybe sometimes we do more. It all depends on the client and the needs, and if they know what they want, or if they’re not really sure. So I come up with a few options and present them to the client.
Another thing I always do is I’ll actually mock those options up. So I’ll take a photograph of the blank wall, and then I will show what the design is gonna look like when it’s on that wall, so that as a client, you’re not wondering, you can actually see, this is exactly what it’s gonna look like. And then we just do a back and forth process where they pick a design that they want or maybe they say, “Ooh, I like these parts of this design and those parts of that, so let’s combine them.” And we just go through the process of going back and forth until we have the design finalized, and we’re both really happy with it and we feel like it’s gonna be good, and then I show up and paint it.
And that’s always really fun. Painting on-site is one of my favorite things to do. And again, that process is different always as well, depending on the space, and if there are people in the space, or it’s still a construction site. There’s a lot of factors that go into actually painting it.
Julia: Hayley did a reel about the conversation she has with homeless people, and they watched this painting outside, and it was just really cute and really funny. So I really liked it.
Hayley: It was funny because a few people actually got mad at me. They were like, “This is making fun of homeless people.” And I was like, “I’m not making fun of homeless people. I’m just being real.” Because the thing is, when you’re painting outside in the middle of the day, tons of people walk past and say hi, but who in society has time to hang out by the person who’s painting a mural outside in the middle of the day? It’s homeless people. So any time I’m painting outside, it just attracts homeless people, and most of them are so, so sweet. But I have heard so many life stories of people that just, they don’t have anything going on, and so while you’re painting, they sit there and they tell you their entire life story and you make some new friends, which is always very fun.
Julia: I used to work at a nonprofit that served homeless people. And you’re right, they have time on their hands, and they also are often lonely too. So if another human being is willing to listen to them, they’ll just keep going.
Hayley: Yeah. And I’m cool with it. I’ve only had one bad experience. I did get one guy that showed up just to cuss me out and harass me. That wasn’t cool, but that’s only happened once.
Julia: Well, I personally loved it only maybe because I was like, been there, done that, except not painting a mural.
Hayley: And that’s actually a question I get sometimes. People ask me, “Ooh, is it scary to paint in front of people?” Because sometimes I am. I’m painting in a business that’s open, so there’s people coming by, but I love it. I have no problem being in front of people, and so I try to make it kind of showy. Like if people come by, I’ll purposefully do a really big stroke so people can be like, “Wow.” I’m like, “Hey, that’s part of the experience too.” If people go home and say, “Oh my gosh, I was at this place and this person was actually painting on the wall. It was so cool.” That’s part of the experience for the customers, and that’s pretty cool.
Julia: That’s awesome. We’ve talked about a lot of different things, like when would a business decide to do – what’s the impetus? We’ve talked about why they would do it, but when might they decide to pull the trigger per se?
Hayley: Well, I think the first thing that we have to talk about is what it means to be in the market for something. So if you’re in the market for your mural, it means you have the need. So either you need to educate your customers, you need to inspire your employees, whatever, but it also means you have the budget. And that’s something that a lot of people are surprised about. So typically, murals, depending on the thighs, depending on where they are, they’re never gonna be less than $500 or $600, and they can go up to $20,000. So depending on the size of your wall and how much detail you want, just be prepared to be spending a decent amount of money.
Typically, murals are gonna end up being somewhere between $30 to $50 a square foot. So if you’re a business owner and you wanna try to calculate it on your own, obviously that’s not gonna be perfect because that doesn’t necessarily take into account the design process and some other things, but just know murals aren’t cheap. It’s a luxury product. I always say to people, nobody needs a mural. It’s not something that your business is gonna die if you don’t have one. It’s something that is a next level kind of thing. It’s something where if you’re ready to take the next step to take your business to the next level, to show that you’re serious and to really engage with people in a really unique and special way, and to elevate your brand, that’s how you know you’re ready.
So they’re not cheap, I’m not gonna lie. But they’re worth it. And it’s something that’s gonna last forever, and it’s something that’s really special. And so I think really, it’s just an individual thing for businesses, whether or not they’re ready for one. But I do think it’s important to understand that it is an investment, but that it’s something that is going to give you credibility in your industry as well.
Julia: Well, I like the idea of it taking you to this next tier, next level because like for when you do need to have the expendable income or the revenue to be able to invest in something like that, but at the same time, to me, people who are willing to invest in that are also looking at things like culture, or morale, or vibes, whatever you might want to call it. They’re not just doing the bare necessities anymore. They’re really investing in other things.
Hayley: And that’s partly why I love doing murals so much. Well, I love all the types of work I do, don’t get me wrong, but with a logo, everybody needs one. So I work with tons of businesses and some are really excited and some are just more like, well, this is something I have to have as a business. And that’s fine. But the thing about a mural that’s really fun is that no one comes to me saying, “Oh, well I have to have this mural.” It’s something that when clients approach me about doing a mural, it’s because they love art, and they love design usually, and they really understand the value that a mural’s gonna give. And so typically, working with a client on a mural, it’s such a fun process because the client is typically super also invested and understands the value of art, which is so fun.
Julia: This is not on our questions list that I gave Hayley, but I am just curious because I feel like murals are almost this cross-section between art and advertising. Obviously, we have art and museums per se, which are still making a point, trying to convey a message often. And I’m saying this as a non-artist, everybody, so just bear with me. But they’re not necessarily trying to get you to purchase something or engage with a company. And while logos and design things are kind of in this middle ground, they’re more on the advertising side, in my opinion, when it comes to the art world, but murals are almost like in this middle space, where they are art and beautiful, but they do have a purpose to them. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Hayley: Yes, that’s a big question. And I guess to kick it off, I will argue that pretty much most of the art that we as society consider great art from the past is actually illustration. And maybe some fine artists will get mad at me for that. But let’s be real, nobody before the 20th century was creating art just for the heck of it. People were creating art for clients. So whether your client is the Pope or something, you might look at someone’s art and say, “Oh, it’s just so beautiful.” And it’s like, “No, the Pope hired Michelangelo to paint the ceiling, one, to glorify God, but also though, to show what a great pope he was.” You know, “I’m such a great pope that I was able to commission this.”
And so it really is PR. And so I think it’s interesting because a lot of times people look at art and they go, “Oh, this just is beautiful art.” And I’m like, “No, no. All of this was created for a purpose.” And a lot of times, the purpose was to show the importance of the client, it was to celebrate the client’s family, or even to show a painting of, like, oh, this beautiful landscape, just shows that I am wealthy enough to afford a beautiful landscape in my home.
Julia: I love this conversation.
Hayley: I would like to argue that really, most art before the 20th century was illustration. And people will get mad at me for that, but I’m like, it was created for a client for a purpose. And so I think I have no issue with that. Sometimes people will be like, “Oh, commercial art isn’t art.” And I’m like, “Most art is commercial in some ways.” We’re all trying to get someone to do something. But I think for me, I especially love it because, again, I love art, but I also love design. And in my mind, a lot of design is the best art. People that come to my house, sometimes they laugh because I have a lot of advertisements from the 1950s framed and hanging in my house. And they go, “Why in the heck do you have this car ad hanging on your wall?” And I’m like, “Because look at the way that the car is painted and look at the way that the letters were drawn and everything’s arranged.”
And so for me, I love advertisement as art. And some of my favorite murals are old Coke signs on the sides of buildings and everything. So now I can’t even remember what the question was. It was something about murals being in the middle. So I think too, it just depends, because there are murals that are art for art’s sake. I was part of a thing a couple years ago called Mural Fest that happens every year in the city of South Salt Lake where they hire artists to paint these murals. And a lot of the murals really are just art for art’s sake, like a giant painting of a lion. It’s not necessarily for a business, it’s just a cool painting of a lion. But for me, I typically do work with letter forms and with hand lettering, and so usually, there’s a message. And so it is something that is gonna have something to do with the company that I’m designing for or whatever. I don’t know, I just think it’s awesome.
I think the work I do definitely is more commercial, but not all murals are. You can be a mural artist, it’s just creating art for art’s sake. The only tricky thing about that though is finding a spot to do it. Because if you’re just creating art that’s beautiful, you have to find a business that’s really cool with that and is gonna let you just paint on their building just for the heck of it. And also, sometimes it’s hard to get paid. So if you’re really into doing art for art’s sake and just painting whatever, you’re probably gonna need to do a lot of research to get grants, and stuff like that, since it’s not necessarily for a business with a budget.
Julia: Right. Or else you’re gonna have to self-fund yourself. I love that. I feel like from now on, I’m gonna be thinking every time I look at art, like, who was this for?
Hayley: That’s right. Because it was almost never painted just for fun.
Julia: Yeah. How interesting? I love it. So to wrap up, we’ve started doing this segment where we ask people hot take questions. So there’s no right or wrong answer. First question, what’s your favorite part of a brand identity?
Hayley: Well I feel like I’m biased, but it’s totally the logo. If a business has a bad logo, I don’t even go in .
Julia: Oh, that’s important. I was thinking, what’s my favorite part? I feel like for me, it’s like, if somebody comes to us with a logo but doesn’t have colors, I’m like, seriously? Why? Why? Like font and typography, like, oh, wow.
Hayley: My husband, this drives me crazy, because anytime we’re out, he’ll point at something and be like, “Is that a good logo?” And I’ll be like, “Yeah, but it’s not hand lettered. And you can tell because the two T’s are exactly the same.” And he’s like, “What?” And so too, it’s okay to use fonts in your logo, but anytime I see a logo that’s out there and you can tell they didn’t use a font, like it’s actually hand drawn, that is the best ever.
Julia: Okay. Sweet. And then my other question for you, not so much a hot take, but actually a distinction, what’s the difference between calligraphy and hand lettering?
Hayley: Yes, that’s a great question. So the difference is that calligraphy is a form of writing. So the word calligraphy actually means beautiful writing. And so calligraphy, you’re not drawing. I keep making air quotes. I’m like, people aren’t gonna be able to see that in a podcast. You’re not drawing, you’re actually writing. And the way that your letters are formed is based on the pressure that you apply while you’re writing, or the angle that you hold your pen while you’re writing. That’s calligraphy, hand lettering is a form of drawing. So I’m not using a specific tool to make my letters look a certain way, I’m just drawing them a certain way.
So the difference is hand lettering is a form of drawing, calligraphy is a form of writing. And I always like to throw a third one in there, because people are always like, “I love the fonts that you draw.” And I’m like, “Aha. A font is its own thing.” A font is when you take a letter form that has been drawn and you program it. So a font is a programmed set of letter forms or glitz that work together in a sequence. So I’ve probably just made that even more confusing. But calligraphy, hand lettering, and typography or fonts, are all three different things.
Julia: I like it. And so just for my own sake of clarification, hand lettering, the same letters might not look the same?
Hayley: Yes. You can do that in calligraphy as well. You could change something, but the difference is, one, you’re just writing in a single – whereas hand lettering, you’re drawing it and then maybe filling it in.
Julia: But like a font or typography, the same letter will look the same?
Hayley: Yeah. In typography, the same letter is always gonna look the same because it’s programmed to look one way.
Julia: Okay. How interesting? Hayley, thanks for joining us. If people wanna connect with you, where can they find you?
Hayley: So my business is Type Affiliated, and you can find me anywhere by searching that. So Instagram @typeaffiliated https://www.instagram.com/typeaffiliated/, my website is typeaffiliated.com. If you wanna shoot me an email, if you’re ready for a mural, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me always through those words.
Julia: And also, the reason I found Hayley was because I was following all of her beautiful illustrations and all of her work. So head over to Instagram and check that out. Hayley, thank you for joining us. Thanks for talking about murals, and also, thank you for making advertising beautiful.
Hayley: You are so welcome. Thank you for having me on and for having this awesome podcast
Julia: Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have, if you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.
Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.