By Alan Madlane
The astute among you — and yes, we’re talking to you, dear reader – may well have noticed a new, large, pro-Hamtramck mural right square in the downtown area, on the side of the currently vacant building at Jos. Campau Ave. at Trowbridge St.
That building was last occupied by the Trowbridge Coffee House.
The mural is the work of one Kelly Golden, who was commissioned to do it by the Hamtramck Downtown District Association (DDA).
We thought it might be fun to chat with the artist about her most recent creation.
The Review: Your website (kellygoldensigns.com) states that you’ve been “muraling” since 2010.
What was your art background journey, leading up to your current career, and how were you able to translate your original skill set into learning how to paint on such a giant scale?
Kelly Golden: I started out painting grocery-style signs at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor. While working there, I came across a full-blown sign painting program being taught at Los Angeles Trade Technical College — the last of its kind in the country.
I moved out there as fast as I could, and started learning from the best: Doc Guthrie.
The Review: Along that same line of question, how do you specifically set up, or map out, your mural? Can you walk us (the ignorant) briefly through the steps of your process?
Golden: The process varies per job, but, specifically for the Hamtramck mural, I used an old bumper sticker of the design to (initially) map it out to scale.
I (next) took measurements of the wall, and (then) super-imposed a scan of the sticker over the top to lay it out.
We updated the slogan, so I just needed to design that to match.
The Review: Which have been some of your own favorite projects so far, and why?
Golden: I’m drawn mostly to projects with historical significance, an old-school aesthetic, and some level of creative collaboration.
Having the chance to design, and paint, the super graphics at the retro-renovated Bowlero Lanes and Lounge stands out. Also, re-painting the signs at John King Books.
Painting a fleet of moving trucks for O’Sullivan Moving and Storage. And bringing to life a 118-foot-tall mural for Charles McGee from a 10” drawing.
I love a challenge.
The Review: We’re assuming, since your work is so visible, that a lot of your subsequent jobs come from word of mouth? How did the Hamtramck city mural job come about?
Golden: Yes! I was recommended to the job by Margo Dalal of Public Thrift, who will be the new tenant in the building soon.
The Review: Were there any unusual challenges to creating the Hamtramck city mural? Did you have any hassles before, during or after the project?
Golden: This one was, honestly, pretty smooth sailing — which almost never happens!
The Review: It looks like more than one of your projects has involved some work at what we, happy ground-level dwellers that we are, would call “substantial heights”?
Have you always been comfortable with heights, or did you have to learn on the job(s)?
Golden: I have, definitely, gotten more comfortable (with heights) with experience, but there are still windy days that rock my world.
I get to the ground, and feel like I’ve been on a boat all day, and swear I’ll never do it again — but there I am, at 8 a.m. the next morning, movin’ on up.
The Review: You are a fairly outdoorsy person, judging from your website’s little blurb about you. How’s it going, getting your pilot’s license?
What type of plane(s) are you working with currently?
Golden: I’ve sort of had to put flying on hold for a little while (and updating my website is on “the list”).
I realized pretty quickly that it’s a rich person’s hobby, and I am most certainly not rich. I love it so much though; the different perspectives it lends on the world, and the whole other side of my brain it taps into.
So, I do hope I can pick it back up one day. In the meantime, I love to camp and kayak, and be outside as much as possible!
The Review: You mention having a doggo as well. Tell us about him or her – does he or she bother you while you’re painting at home, for example, assuming you still do any of that?
Golden: I do! Her name is Chili Cheese Dog, and she’s my absolute best friend in the world. She teaches me so much about love and life every day, and I feel so lucky to get to see the world through her eyes.
The Review: That’s for sure.
Do you already have your next job(s) lined up, and if so, are you at liberty to discuss any of them with us?
Golden: I’m actually taking some time off at the moment. I just got a new studio, so I’m working on getting that set up — and hope to have lots of new work coming out soon.
The Review: Feel free to add anything here that we didn’t cover in our line of questions, and thanks so much for taking the time to provide our readership with a bit of insight into your interesting line of work.
Golden: Thank you so much! This was really fun!
Posted Jan. 22, 2022