3. Q&A with Corie Hinton, muralist

Springfield, Ore. –

March 22, 2013

Jay Rogers

Q&A with Corie Hinton, artist-in-residence at Lane Arts Council

Corie Hinton at Espresso Roma, Eugene, Oregon.

Corie Hinton at Espresso Roma, Eugene, Oregon.

Jay Rogers: How did you first get in to painting murals?

Corie Hinton: My mom needed something different on her wall, on her kitchen wall. She was gonna re-wallpaper it because it was just really ugly wallpaper. I did this big mural in our kitchen and then people started coming over and just liking it and then asking me if, to do it in their houses. So mostly it’s been family friends, is kind of where I’ve started. It was just like jungle-y, we’d gone to Hawaii so it was like jungle-y, tropical stuff.

JR: When did you realize painting murals was what you wanted to do?

CH: I guess I’d been doing it a little bit, I hadn’t really taken it seriously. And then, I was in the Peace Corps, in Madagascar, for two years, so I was over there without very much arts supplies or paints or really anything. I guess it was just because that was the thing that I really missed, almost maybe the most, like besides friends and family, obviously, but—and food—But I really just missed that feeling of painting a mural for somebody, and I was just like, if I’m missing it this much, you know, maybe that says something, and that was really when it hit me, when I was over there and realized how much I miss having it in my life. And so I was like, I got to do this! I just had to keep doing it, painting big, and so that’s kind of when it hit me that when I get back I should do it and try to make it happen.

JR: What did you paint in Madagascar?

CH: With the paint I did bring over there, I painted you know, a hospital wall, the room where the mothers were having their babies, I painted a thing about nutrition, stuff like that. And stuff on the walls for friends who actually had walls that were paintable—you know, ’cause they weren’t all real walls in the village.

JR: What is your favorite mural you’ve ever done?

CH: I think I like doing murals with kids a lot, and actually there’s this really recent one that we just did with a high school, and it was all these civil rights leaders, like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, just like change-makers. All these protestors, like a line of protestors around the bottom, and they changed according to whoever they were by, so like whatever signs they were holding would change. I just really like that one, it really meant something to the kids. I like teaching murals, the ones that really have that educational purpose.

JR: What’s your favorite thing to paint?

CH: Organic stuff. I don’t really, I don’t like painting buildings and things where it has to be super exact. I’m not so great with perspective, it’s hard for me, it takes a lot of brain power. It’s hard. Some people have that kind of brain, though. I don’t really, so I’d rather paint people or you know, organic, nature-y stuff.

JR: What is the most meaningful part of a mural to you?

CH: I think what it has the potential to say, rather than just being a beautiful piece of art, which it is usually. Thinking about Diego Rivera and stuff, you know he’s this really famous muralist, his murals caused such a stir because they are just about communism and whatever, you know they were very political. I think I just liked the potential they have as something that’s public, as something that’s big and bold and not just you know, art in a gallery for people who want to go see that kind of art. It’s art for everyone.

JR: What’s your inspiration?

CH: The outdoors, probably. That’s kind of the other thing I’m really into is nature, and being outside. Just definitely an Oregon girl in that way.

JR: Did you do art as a kid?

CH: Oh yeah, I was all over it when I was little, just did it all the time, really. I had really supportive parents who were supporting me, just giving me supplies and stuff. I teach kids, and when it’s, you can see the kids who are really into it. I was just really lucky that I was brought into a family that valued art and really encouraged it.

JR: It’s cool that your family encouraged art.

CH: My dad was actually a graphic designer until things kind of switched around, he used to the kind of cut and paste design before the computers did it. So he did that, and my mom was actually, she got a degree in art education, so she did that. Yeah, I got it from both sides. My grandparents did art, too. So yeah, I was definitely brought up in a good family for it.

JR: What do you want to do in the future?

CH: Definitely grow the business. I’m trying to move to Portland in September, so I’ll probably bring it up there. It’s just hard being in Eugene, there’s just not a lot of room to grow here. The galleries that I would aspire to here have closed, so it’s just kind of like an indicator, warning sign that things are not great here for art and people don’t really support it. Eugene used to be such an art community, like so much more. And it still kind of is, there’s just not as much as I wish there was. In Portland, there’s a lot more.

JR: Which galleries were you looking at?

CH: There was this one, the Karin Clarke gallery that was really cool. DIVA was really awesome—DIVA’s still around, they just moved, I think. There’s still a lot of art, like the coffee shops and stuff, the other artists I’ve talked to, you know I’ve put my art in coffee shops and stuff, it just doesn’t sell. I’ve talked to artists who are dealing with the same stuff here and I don’t know, Portland has more rich people who might want murals in their houses. I think I’m gonna try and hook up with an interior designer up there, and like the builder’s association and stuff, get them to help promote me to their new clients, get some kind of business relationship going with them.

JR: Do you paint on the outside walls of buildings?

CH: I haven’t done one that’s needed like a city permit, it’s all been indoors mostly. That’s one of my main goals is to do a really public one somewhere around town, but—someday! It’s mostly like private residences, schools, dentist office.

JR: Is that mostly what you work on now?

CH: Mhm, I mostly work with kids nowadays. I’m on lane art’s council roster and so they’ll like, I’ll contract out to different schools for a few weeks at a time and do murals with their kids. I just worked with high-schoolers for the first time, it was kind of like nerve-wracking. Um it was fun, it was cool to actually be able to teach them like serious painting concepts rather than just go paint your neighbor.

JR: How was it nerve-wracking?

CH: Just ’cause, well you know, I haven’t been in high school in like ten years, and you just forget that it’s like, to be cool, you have to earn their trust and get into the cool factor with them. I don’t know it’s just kind of funny. They all thought I was like 20, I was like, you guys! So I don’t think they saw me as an authority like I wanted them to. Not that I want to be like an authority figure, but I don’t want them to think they can just screw around ’cause I’m like their age or something.

JR: Was it cool to teach them a higher level of art?

CH: It was! It was cool, actually. They were really able to –they were doing something really ambitious, they were like, let’s do portraits of these famous leaders! It was a very ambitious project that’s for sure, but they were good with it. It was different than teaching little 5th graders and stuff where you have to do all this classroom management stuff and tell them to not hit each other, and keep their hands to themselves, and high-schoolers, you get to teach them real concepts.

JR: What do you teach the younger kids?

CH: we do murals most of the time, but um usually with that there’s only so many kids I can have working on the mural at one time so for the rest of the class I’ll do a lesson about a famous artist, so I’ll call it artist lesson. We’ll study Van Gogh or something and then do something related to his style, and learn something about him. So they’ll be doing a project while I’m working with like a few kids on the mural, and then we’ll rotate, so each kid gets to paint, but they don’t all get to paint at the same time, ’cause that would be chaos. So that’s how I work with kids.

JR: What do you teach them in the artist lessons?

CH: I’ve been doing like, portraits actually, with some of the kids. Not like portrait-portraits, but proportions, the face, where the eyes go. So we’ve been doing that with kind of the older kids. I don’t do that with kinders and 1st-graders, um just simple perspective rules that things get smaller as they go further back in space. And that’s about as far as you can go with perspective for the little kids, but it’s cool because they don’t know that yet, and it’s exciting to see them learning those things.

JR: Do you want to keep on teaching?

CH: Ultimately the goal is to have half of my job be murals for residences and businesses, and the other half would be doing them in schools with the kids, so. But if I got certified I could have, you know, my own art room, which would be a dream come true. Yeah I would love to be the art teacher. Those jobs just aren’t really full-time anymore, if at all, unless they’re in high school, but even those are pretty hard to come by, I think.

JR: What other kinds of art do you do?

CH: I like to dabble in a bunch of stuff. I like to do, like sculpture-type things, I like to sew, make jewelry, just like crafty, I don’t know, I have too many crafty hobbies. I like it. Sometimes you need to do that stuff that’s like, just for you, you know. I’m trying to do a big painting series about my time in Madagascar. I don’t know, it’s just for me, sometimes I need to just paint for me. Recharge my batteries.

JR: Do you work with other artists sometimes?

CH: Um, not really. I mean I’ve worked side-by-side with them more than actually collaborating with them. But it would be fun. It’s good to see like what other people are doing, and learn from other people.

JR: How do you get in the mood to be creative?

CH: That’s a hard one! It’s really hard for me to start stuff, once I get myself there and working then it’s okay, but it’s actually getting to it. If I’m doing a mural at someone’s house, I just have to force myself to drive over there and then it’s like, okay I’m here, I might as well start. I don’t know. If you’re not in the mood, it’s really hard though, sometimes you’re just not feelin’ it.

JR: Do you have a playlist for that?

CH: I like to listen to podcasts, you know, like Atmosphere is a really good rapper guy, he has really interesting lyrics, so if I have something that’s got a lot of words, that’s what I like, because it brings me out of my own thought and I can’t hear anything except what I’m listening to, I guess that makes sense. I need to not think, when I’m painting, because then it just kind of flows.

NEXT

1. Mural Background

2. Mural Slideshow

3. Q&A with Corie Hinton, muralist

4. The Neighborhood

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