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Check Out Paige Orpin’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paige Orpin.

Hi Paige, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have enjoyed art since I was a little kid, but I remember vividly when the switch turned on all the way. I was in high school and I was hanging out with some guys that wrote graffiti. At this point, I had never thought one way or another about graffiti in general. But, I remember these guys sitting around, passing their sketchbooks back and forth.

They were flipping through books with pages that were hit top to bottom with color, talking about what they liked about each others sketches, and the way they could make certain parts look even better. I remember thinking to myself, “I want to have that… I want to have a book, filled front to back with my work”. So, I started drawing, a lot. Not graffiti, just doodles. And based on the style that I’m known for today, everything in that sketchbook would be pretty unidentifiable as something I even drew. That led to me wanting to work on a larger scale, so I picked up the paintbrushes and started working on canvas.

A few years later, a friend approached me about selling my work at a community festival. I declined but told her I was interested in murals and if the community had a need for them, I was willing to paint for free if they took a chance on me. Christina Delgado, who was working at BENI in Northeast Baltimore at the time, contacted me shortly after with a small mural project. After that, it was history, we haven’t stopped working together since.

Of course, once I started getting more work in the streets, people started approaching me about other projects and my body of work continued to grow. All I can say is, I owe a lot to those 17-year-old boys painting graffiti and the 3 little windows that I painted in Northeast in 2015.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Absolutely not. As I answered the previous question, the journey sounded so Hollywood. I went through points where I wasn’t painting any murals at all. I was almost always declined when I would reach out to businesses about carrying my work in their shops and I have, to this day, never had luck applying to grants or projects through the public call for artists.

And financially, I was not making much money on quite a few projects over the years. That being said, some of it is because my work needed some refining in the beginning, as well as my business sense and confidence. I think most of it is right of passage and you learn as you go. I am certainly not blameless through the process.

I have said this before and I stand by it – if you want to start painting for money, you shouldn’t. You should paint because you love it, and maybe eventually if you stick with it long enough, the projects and money might start showing up. Do it because you love it, not because you have to.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I would say I’m predominantly known as a painter. I specialize in murals. I do some commission canvas work and I have had some of my work turned into graphics for skateboards and a few other goods. Painting isn’t my full-time job, I do interior design as well, so I have always had another stream of income.

Because of that, I have never felt pressured to take a job that didn’t “fit” me because I needed to pay the bills. I am really lucky in that way. It’s a luxury, really. All of the work that you see out in the street is stuff that I really was excited about, and the customers let me be me when doing the design.

I am so grateful that I haven’t ever had to “bend” my style. If you want photorealistic people and fish painted, I have a guy I can recommend for you… However, if you want some bright colors and abstract shapes, let’s talk because I’m your girl.

How do you think about happiness?
Good food, good people, and good conversation. What’s better than that?

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Zeb Potler, Anastasia Tantaros, and Sarah Grunder

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