To help people rediscover St. Jacobs and aid in rebranding the village, the Business Improvement Association tasked Waterloo artist Stephanie Scott with painting murals on the outside of various businesses in the area. The BIA wanted to capture a “social media buzz” so the town could have Instagram worthy spots to have photos taken and share with others who may want to explore what St. Jacobs has to offer.
So far there are two different murals – one of the side of the Mennonite Story building and another on the side of Toy Soup. The first mural on the Mennonite Story building was started last year and depicts the saying “a little bit of country is good for the soul.” The second finished a few weeks ago showcases a quilt on the side of Toy Soup. Both murals were created through a collaboration with the artist, the BIA and shop owners to give a better understanding of the town’s history and heritage.
“We wanted to come up with a design that really spoke to the heritage of the village,” said Michael Palmer, a member of the BIA’s board of management. “Stephanie Scott is our illustrator (who) really worked closely with the owners of Toy Soup and with us to craft this really cool stylized quilt that is now on the side of the building.”
Palmer says they were looking for unique ways to market the village as it’s known for being a tourist area. They found that the murals would have the best chance to spread through social media and showcase a small part of what the town has to offer, while bringing colour and character to the area.
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When they were searching for an artist the BIA looked at a few different candidates. But, because of her prior work throughout the region, Palmer says they were “super impressed” with Scott and believed her style suited the brand and vision they had for the village and it was an “easy choice to go with her.”
When Scott got chosen to create the first mural she says the art was left open to her creative process, the only requirements were what the mural said and where it was placed.
“They kind of gave me a rough idea, the neighbourhood the demographic, things like that and who they were looking (for it) to appeal to. And then design decisions… the colour palettes and all that, the end design was mine,” said Scott.
Her process normally involves getting a good sense of the design ideas so she can create rough drawings of the piece. This normally includes continued discussion as she refines the design until a final draft is completed.
Once that’s done, she is able to begin the painting process. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and whether the mural is going inside or outside – like the ones in St. Jacobs – can factor into the length of time it takes to complete.
“Outdoor work I find ends up getting really broken up and spread out. So what would maybe take like five days inside would take two weeks outside depending on the conditions,” said Scott.
The BIA has plans for another two murals which they intend to start at some point down the road. Palmer says they have already budgeted for the new upcoming murals, and he hopes to start them later this year or early next year.
“We’ve tentatively said that we wanted to do a couple more. Now given everything that’s going on with COVID and not (being) sure when businesses are fully opening and not sure what’s going on with the sparkles event in November, things are still kind of up in the air,” added Palmer.
Currently they don’t have designs planned for the next two murals, but they do plan on working with the chosen business owner, so it matches the feel of the business and works well with the vision of St. Jacobs.