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Community Giving: Creating a Sense of Place with a Mural

By on Apr 5, 2011 in Loud Dog Culture, Loud Dog News, Loud Dog Projects

Our long time friend and fan, Leslie Castellanos, Development Director for the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California, asked us if we would design a mural for the front entrance to their building in San Francisco. This was Loud Dog’s first mural design, but our approach to the project was no different than usual: we met with the volunteer committee tasked with the building beautification project and gathered information about the organization and the goals of the mural. Then we set to work brainstorming and sketching ideas, collaborating closely with Leslie to develop two potential directions for review.

The main goal of the mural was to tell a visual story about who the HSC is and what they do — a tall order because the HSC includes a school, a clinic, youth and family programs, and adult and senior counseling. The HSC does amazing work, teaching individuals with hearing loss of all ages how to participate in daily life with the use of hearing devices and communication skills. I’ve encountered many students and adults at the center and it is difficult to tell who among those in the building have a hearing loss.

The committee was helpful and was open to designs that were less representational and more abstract. As we focused our energy on how to visually represent sound, our a-ha moment was when we realized that the theme had to be more about clarity and less about volume. It’s not about how loud you are but about how clearly you express yourself, which coincidentally aligns with our Rethink Loud campaign. Who knew we’d be so perfect for each other?

It took us about eight weeks to perfect the concept, and when we presented to the committee, they made a unanimous decision on the winning design. Whew! Some initial sketches and our winning idea comped in Photoshop is shown below.

HSC mural sketches

Resonance mural

The final design is titled “Resonance” and shows two figures in the foreground in shades of gray, one whispering in the ear to the other, both wearing expressions of delight. In the background, a series of concentric circles spreads outwards from the figures, surrounding them in various shades of blue (the HSC’s corporate color is a dark blue). Brightly colored squares float like musical notes in the middle ground, some containing symbols that reference hearing disability, school, clinic, and community.

Once the design was chosen we picked out our paint colors, graciously donated by Kelly Moore. We narrowed the palette down to about fifteen colors, and not a single one matched the Pantone swatch book we brought along. Thankfully, with Leslie leading the project and the recommendations from Gin Cheung at Kelly Moore, the colors came out looking fantastic.

Mural detail photos

The actual painting was delayed by the massive amounts of rain San Francisco had in mid-March, but thankfully the sun came out just in time for us to complete the mural within the time frame specified by San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth & Their Families, who funded the project. Last week on Wednesday, March 30, the first coats of paint went up. One of the best parts about seeing the paint go up was witnessing community members inquire about the organization – some had lived there for years and never knew that HSC was there!

Mural painting detail

Finished mural in context

We feel great about being able to be involved in such an awesome project that brightens up the HSC’s building and the 1200 block of Divisadero in San Francisco. Next time you are in the Western Addition we hope you’ll check it out.

For a full album of photos on the mural painting from start to finish, visit our Flickr set, or check it out on Facebook.

Hey! This wasn't written by a pride of lions! It was written by , who does awesome work at Loud Dog, a digital branding firm in San Francisco that helps businesses express themselves authentically via identities, websites, and marketing collateral.

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