By Marcy Robledo
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s six words, Blake was asked is six questions about his experience painting one of the murals in the new Play Library, located in Over the Rhine (OTR).
1. How did Julia Fischer connect with you and convince you to become involved with the new OTR Play Library?
Julia was referred to me by Daniel Souder, the co-owner of Pleasantry OTR. I do a lot of artwork for them (Pleasantry), including menu illustration; I also have some work hanging in their bathroom and I’ve done some interior drawings in their back stairwell. I met Dan when I worked with him at another local OTR restaurant, Kaze, where I have done all of their chalk art for the past four years.
2. How did you come up with the character on the mural?
Most of the interior work that I did was simply intuitive or impulsive, which was fun. It’s not every day I get to draw a cactus flying an airplane or an octopus fishing. For the bathroom work, I used a reference photo that William, the gentleman who runs Play Library with Julia, showed me an example aesthetic and then went back to the intuitive impulse, goofy drawings.
3. How long did it take create and paint the mural?
I went there about five times and spent between 30 minutes to three hours each session.
4. Did you have help?
I did have help and it was actually a joint effort throughout the project. I did the bathroom and a good portion of the interior illustration, but there were a few other artists going in and out. I don’t have a list of the other artists who worked on the mural, but I do know that Christian Schmitt, my former Drawing instructor and mentor, did some work.
5. What did you learn in the process, and what words of wisdom can you pass onto classmates who aspire to become muralist?
I learned, or frankly I’ve been learning, that getting into the community and working in the neighborhood literally just takes being personable and knowing people. That whole three rule thing is very important: 1. Make good work 2. Be a kind and personable person 3. Be dependable.
Even if you have two of these three things you’re good. If you make good work, and are dependable, but aren’t very personable, then you’re good. If you’re dependable and personable but make sub par work, then they’ll have you come back, etc. I would tell classmates to just get to know people, be yourself, do what you want, and don’t sell yourself short.
6. What are your plans after graduation?
I am going to study abroad with U.C. DAAP this summer for a Master of Arts, International Studies. I’ll be spending a few months in Berlin, Germany to make some work, meet some artists, and then we’ll see. I definitely want to get my Masters, but I don’t want to rush anything. I also plan on getting a studio and I very much want to open a creative space for artists in Cincinnati, but something that is rad. I hear a lot of local artists complain about not having access to a wood shop, and how difficult it is to have art shows/events. So, I hope I’ll do something with that. Who knows!!