Taking It To The Streets

Taking It To The Streets

NWA muralist expands his reach to Little Rock



Jason Jones was 14 when he got hooked.

“There was a video store in the little city where I grew up, and [the owner] asked me if I wanted to paint the fence,” he says. “He knew I liked to draw. He paid me in video games and VHS tapes, and I rode my bike every day and painted his fence with all these movie scenes. So probably since then I’ve just been hooked. It was fun.”

The artist, who grew up outside West Fork, about 20 minutes south of Fayetteville, is still hooked on art. Maybe you’ve seen his work. He painted a big blue octopus on a wall in Bentonville, a big pink flamingo at Flamingo Springs Trailer Resort in Prairie Grove and a Razorback made of Greek letters at the University of Arkansas — oh, and a mural last year in the 300 block of Main Street near Soul Fish Cafe in Little Rock. It’s a doozy: A huge robot with a flashlight in his head is bending over, adjusting one of three pictures hanging on the wall below him.

Central Arkansans will get to see more of his work in the coming weeks. Jones was selected by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership to paint a mural on the Main Street side of the Union Plaza Building at 124 Capitol Ave. But he can’t tell you what the mural will look like. The Downtown Partnership wants it to be a surprise.

“I can tell you it’s playful and whimsical, as most of my work is,” he says.

“I definitely, when I do public murals, I always try to think about something that’s inspiring to children,” he expands. “I’ve kind of learned it’s hard to make all the adults happy, so I try to make the kids happy and make something that has a wide audience that a lot of people can enjoy. It’s pretty bright. It’ll change the look on the street, I think. I hope you like it. I know a lot of people look at that wall.”

For example, Jones says, he has just finished a mural in Harrison. “It was a large alligator gar. That’s the new state fish, which I didn’t know that when I did the design. I did the design last year and then this year they made it the state fish.”

Check out his website, artistjasonjones.com, to see his portfolio. He graduated from UA in 2000 with a bachelor of fine art degree and set up shop not long after that.

“Pretty much right after college I started doing murals,” he explains. “I did construction work part time for about two years. I tried to get some jobs with my art, and then after about two years it got to where I could support myself enough to squeeze by, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The new mural in Little Rock will be his most ambitious.

“It’s the biggest wall I’ve done,” he says. “From my measurement, it’s just a hair under 5,000 square feet. I think the wall on one side is about 42 feet high and the other is closer to 46 feet high and then the wall is almost 130 feet long. I’ve done a couple murals that are 3,000 square feet so, yeah, this is a new challenge for me, for sure, on this scale.”

Jones started last weekend, so by the time you read this, parts of the mural will be visible.

“A lot of the beginning is going to be just me gridding stuff out, getting some basic shapes up there. After …. a couple days I’ll start spraying in a lot of the background, and then it’ll start changing pretty quickly after the spraying.”

Converting a sketch into a 5,000-square-foot mural is not easy, and the weather can make it more challenging.

“It involves a lot of math, more than you would think,” he explains. “I go measure the wall and then I end up drawing it out to scale and then I … grid it out to make it larger from the sketch. Usually, when I’m on a mural, my days off are the rain days. If the weather’s good, I’m out there seven days a week. My family actually teases me because I watch the Doppler radar so close.”

Rain won’t wash his mural away, Jones declares: “Usually if I’m sketching and stuff it won’t matter if it rains. It’ll dry quick enough that it won’t hurt it. If I’m covering large areas, I’ll kind of back off and not risk the rain.”

Jones will use a large scissor lift to paint the wall and has assistants scheduled to help when necessary. He uses an acrylic paint made for murals that he orders from California and will add a UV coating over the colors that tend to fade.

“Typically, I end up putting acrylic varnish over my exterior murals,” he adds. “It should still look the same in 15 to 20 years.”



Artists Sought

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership is looking for artists to participate in “Between the Bricks,” its newest art project that aims to jazz up downtown, alleys and all.

The project will place vinyl reproductions of art on alley-facing doors throughout downtown.

Artists can submit up to two of their pieces to be considered. Images must fit either a 36-inch by 84-inch single door or a 72-inch by 84-inch double door. Once accepted, sample images will be posted on the DowntownLr.com website, where business owners and sponsors can choose one or more for their property’s doors.

If selected, artists will receive a $300 stipend. Property owners will pay between $600 and $750, which includes installation and artist compensation.

Categories: Maker Space