Imagine waking up in the morning after spending over a month diligently working on a mural the length of three cars and receiving a text saying someone has vandalized your artwork with graffiti.
During a week-long period in November, numerous artists around the Salt Lake area discovered that their murals had been vandalized with spray painted characters and writing.
“The problem is that it could take you a month to paint something and about 34 seconds for it to be destroyed,” said Josh Scheuerman, a local artist, muralist, and graphic designer after his mural had been vandalized by a graffiti writer during the fall.
Only two weeks after Scheuerman finished a mural he had spent a month and a half working, he said he received a text message from a friend saying that his ‘1940 Old Sugarhouse’ mural had been tagged by a graffiti artist.
Scheuerman’s “1940 Old Sugarhouse” mural is one of 12 murals he has painted around the state of Utah. Scheurman said he has had to repair many of his murals that have been vandalized, including his largest mural ‘Bears Ears,’ across the street from Fisher Brewing Company on 320 West 800 South.
“It’s sad that we are trying to beautify the city with art and murals, and graffiti writers are trying to destroy it,” said Emily Potts, owner of Sugarhouse Coffee.
Scheuerman’s mural was not the only mural that was tagged in the Salt Lake area.
There were around 15 total other murals tagged around the same time as Scheuerman, including The Old Dutch Store mural and Tinker Cat Cafe mural.
“I love the old Sugarhouse mural and all of the artwork in Sugar House,” said Rachel Fong, an employee at Best Friends Animal Society, the building directly next to Sugarhouse Coffee. “I think the artwork and murals around Salt Lake City adds to the overall vibe of the community and I was heartbroken when I found out that so many of the murals were vandalized.”
Scheuerman said many artists are now applying a clear archival varnish as protective coat over their murals to prevent spray paint and other things from ruining them.
“It takes about one week to ten days to restore most murals, depending on the size of the graffiti,” Scheuerman said. “After my Sugarhouse mural was tagged I was able to fix it by taking off the spray paint and repainting over it. I then applied a clear coat, which costs around $300 for 5 gallons, over the entire mural.”
The cost of a clear coat is about six times the amount as a regular gallon of paint, making murals more expensive for the city and for private business owners that hire artists to create large pieces of artwork.
Although Scheuerman said while he was upset that his mural was vandalized, he didn’t see the vandalism as a personal attack.
“I was upset, but I also think the graffiti artists who did the vandalism didn’t intend to personally hurt anyone,” Scheuerman said. “I don’t believe that they wanted to upset the mural artists.”
He said he didn’t want to involve the police, and would rather repair the mural, move on and keep pursuing his passion for painting.
“I want to keep making art,” Scheuerman said. “This is all I do. I now paint full time. So anything that hinders me doing this full time, for a living, for the community, is a hiccup, but I won’t stop painting.”