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Nov 30, 2017

Have you ever been involved in creating mural art? Do you know the intricacies and details involved with creating artwork on such a large scale? What about commissioned mural artwork in public spaces? My guest, Ralph Gilbert was kind enough to open up and share about his experience creating mural art and winning several commissioned art projects. He also goes on to share about his personal artwork, how poetry influences his art, his creative process, habits that have helped him succeed, and much more! Make sure to check out images of his artwork located at the end of this post.

Mural Art and working in public view

An interesting aspect of mural art is it's large a scale and how rooted in place it is. These are just two of several aspects of mural art that artist Ralph Gilbert and I talked about in our conversation. Ralph shared a couple of fascinating observations from his recent work at the Saint Paul Union Depot in Minnesota. During this project which included arched tops and much of the work on scaffolding, Ralph experienced unique interactions with the public as his work was ongoing. He tells of one interaction with a community member that influenced an on the spot change in the work he was creating, it was to include a depiction of an individual with a physical disability. I was enraptured with Ralph’s stories of creating mural art and I know artists like you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it too.

Commissioned Artwork

Have you had any opportunities to create commissioned artwork? What was your experience like? What impressions or assumptions do you have about commissioned artwork? My guest, Ralph Gilbert had the opportunity to work on a handful of commissioned pieces throughout his career as an artist. In our conversation, he explained what the process was like to enter and be considered for committed artwork in a public setting. While commissioned artwork only represents a small portion of Ralph’s portfolio it was great to get his input and perspective on this important and public expression of art in communities all across our nation.

Visual imagery and text

What are the subjects that inspire you and spark that impulse to create your artwork? Is it a landscape, the human body, everyday objects, or something different entirely? My guest, Ralph Gilbert shared with me that poetry captures his imagination and provides that creative spark that inspires him often when he approaches his canvas. Ralph doesn’t see this work he creates as an illustration per say, it truly is more of an inspiration than anything else. He went on to describe the type of poetry that he associates with his creative process and they tend to always focus on human relationships and an insight into the nature of being and desire. It was really intriguing to hear Ralph describe his relationship to poetry and how that informs and inspires the artwork he creates.

The Habit of Showing Up

What are some of the habits that have empowered you in your creative journey as an artist? Is it a ritual you go through each time you approach your canvas? Or maybe for you, it's music or that one art book that just somehow seems to get the creative juices flowing. When I asked my guest Ralph Gilbert what habits have helped him on his journey as an artist, the first thing he put forward was the habit of showing up. It may not sound sexy or unorthodox but it is a very real and honest truth. As the saying goes, “80 percent of life is showing up.” Ralph finds a lot of truth in that saying and how it plays out in his success as an artist. He also shared with me that the habit of working on multiple projects at once has really allowed him the freedom to move in and out from one piece of artwork to another one depending on where he feels like spending his time on that given day. What lessons can you take away from Ralph’s story? What habits work well for you?

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:50] I introduce my guest, Ralph Gilbert.
  • [3:20] How Ralph got started as an artist.
  • [9:00] Lessons Ralph learned from working at Disney.
  • [10:30] Ralph describes his mural artwork.
  • [16:30] How public input influenced Ralph’s mural work.
  • [23:30] Commissioned and public artwork.
  • [33:00] Ralph talks about his personal artwork.
  • [35:00] Poetry and it’s impact on Ralph’s artwork.
  • [38:30] The association between visual imagery and text.
  • [40:30] A series based on the dream life of babies.
  • [45:00] Ralph talks about his process when creating his artwork.
  • [48:00] How being colorblind has impacted Ralph’s work.
  • [53:00] Habits that have helped Ralph succeed as an artist.

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Resources Mentioned on this episode

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