In our pursuit of finding as many murals as possible around Lexington, we are also researching the artists who created them. The Dogtown Mural was painted by Danny Diamond. We had the chance to interview him about the mural via email.
How did you become the artist behind the mural?
I’m originally from the north shore of Massachusetts, where I was involved in the graffiti scene and learned to paint large-scale pieces. A friend of mine named Sheryl moved down to Lexington circa 2008 and invited me to visit a few times.
In 2015, I was on a solo tour of the east coast, I painted in Baltimore, Tallahassee, Gainesville, Atlanta, Lexington, and a lot of spaces in-between. Sheryl worked at Dogtown Daycare, the owner had seen my stuff because she had a canvas of mine hanging at her place, the owner approached me about a mural while I was staying in town.
Did you design the mural and what was the inspiration?
I always consult with my clients about their ideas and the themes they’d like to include in their mural. The owner and I talked about a fun, cartoon-oriented mural that would be eye-catching. We talked about post-modernism and androids and how we’re all walking around augmented by these electronics that we carry everywhere. Then somehow we got onto the idea of robots and their pet robot dogs, which we both thought was kind of intriguing and memorable I guess. I began researching images of robot dogs and then freestyled/adapted an image of my own that included a robot-owner and a leash. I paint city-scape silhouetted backgrounds a lot and I suggested that we include the Lexington skyline with its trademark “Big Blue”, so I pulled up some photographs of Lexington sunsets and sketched the skyline. Then I took the sketches back to the owner and she approved them, so it was time to get to work!
Did you work solo on this mural or with a team? How long did it take to complete?
I painted this entire mural solo (as usual). When I got to the wall, it was in serious disrepair by a painter’s standards. Paint was peeling off of the wall in huge chunks, the previous paint-job had entirely failed and was exposing the raw cinder-block surface beneath it. I spent the entire first of three days scraping, sanding, and priming the wall with a glue-based primer called ‘Stix’, which I hoped would bond to the rough, unfinished spots and create a sound surface that would allow my mural to survive more than just a couple years in the intense Kentucky heat.
On the second day, I set out to paint the robot and robot-dog characters.
I tend to use spray paint and only spray paint to create my murals, there are exceptions in which I’ll use mixed-media, but this isn’t one of those. I remember having been really into a color called “Copper-chrome” by Montana Black during that trip, I was using it as a fill-in color in my letters a lot, so I had a bunch of it. I thought it’d make a nice, warm, glistening finish for the robots. I spent about six hours on them and came back the next day to execute the lettering and the background. All things told, the actual artwork took about twelve hours to complete.
Do you have any other murals in Lexington?
I only have one other mural in KY, which I’m quite proud of. It’s a portrait of the late musician Elliott Smith, along with a silver piece of graffiti. It’s on the side of a garage at 1204 Liggett St., not far from the dogtown mural. Sheryl has since moved-out of Kentucky, so I’m not sure if it’s still there.
I relocated to the west coast a few years ago. These days I live in Santa Cruz, CA, although some of my murals still exist in places across the country.
For more information, check out Danny’s website: www.skribblefish.com