Interview with a Professional Mural Artist

December 12, 2008 at 3:18 pm 2 comments


Children’s Mural Artist – Dawn Papandrea-Khan

I met dawn on Twitter, and she has inspired me enormously with her energy and beautiful mural designs and ideas. She agreed to be interviewed about her life as a ‘work at home mom’.

Here’s what she said..


Give a brief description of your business and what motivates you.

I run a New York based decorative painting company called Surfaces with Paint.
We specialize in faux paint and plaster finishes, custom stenciling, hand painted wall murals, children’s rooms, and much more… I am motivated by making people smile after they see the job completed. I am motivated by working hard to get better with every job that I do.

Where do you get your inspiration for your murals?

My clients share with me their ideas and I take it from there. Believe it or not, my favorite place to find inspiration is Google. I also enjoy getting inspiration from nature and the things around me.


What is your favorite theme for children’s murals?

I LOVE to paint almost anything, but I especially love Nursery Rhymes

Which two murals are you most proud of?

Lighthouse by the Sea & Fairytale Castle




Which tool would you say is your most useful must have tool in your tool box? (other than paint brushes)

I don’t know if you would call this a tool, but I can’t do a mural without matte medium to thin out my acrylics and make them more moveable. I sometime use sponges, but I mostly use brushes.

Do you use a particular make of paint for your murals and do you have any advice about paint for murals?

I have no specific paint brand that I use. I use anything from acrylic artist paints, to acrylic craft paints, to latex house paint for large areas. As far as paint advice, I would suggest using some kind of medium to mix in with the paint to make it moveable. Sometimes water just doesn’t cut it.

Have you painted murals for your own children and/or in your home?

I have not painted wall murals for my own children. We are renting right now and are not able to paint the walls. We are saving for our own place and I look forward to creating murals for them in the future. For now, I am stuck painting on canvas in my current home.

Do you employ staff or do you do all the work yourself?

I mainly work for myself, but my husband joins me on occasion. I am in the process of training my hubby to do the faux finishes so I can stick with painting murals.

How many hours a week do you spend on your blog and how much time do you spend actually painting?

It depends. I just had my 3rd child so I have been taking some time off. When I am painting, I don’t have much time to blog, but I at least commit to posting once or twice a week.

You have three small children one of which is only weeks old. How do you manage your childcare?

My husband works the night shift, so he gets home early afternoon and I can then go to work. I also have a local stay at home mom who can babysit if I get a large job that requires me to work all day.

What do you like to do to relax and get away from the internet/blogging and murals?

I enjoy watching movies, reading fun catalogs, going on driving adventures, walking around our neighborhood when the weather is nice, and chatting on the phone with friends.

What advice would you give to someone embarking on painting a children’s mural but have never painted a mural before?

Research & Practice. There are lots of great online resources available.

Do you feel that encouraging people to paint their own murals for their children’ will do you out of business?

Not at all. I am all for helping people be creative. I charge for consultations though, so I can still make some money if need be.

How do you manage your time between kids, housework and your business?

I am a good multi tasker. I keep myself very organized, write lists, and prioritize. I have certain responsibilities that I take care of on certain days. Of course it doesn’t always work out, but at least I have good intentions. LOL

What has been your most successful marketing strategies?

My website is a huge help for my business. Most of my work comes from someone finding me over the internet. I market my business online by submitting to all the painting & art directories that I can. I get involved in groups.
I write articles and post for my painting related blogs. & I also keep my website fresh and updated. There are so many different things that you can do to help you gain exposure.

What has been the hardest thing about being a WAHM?(Work at home Mom)

 It is difficult to get things done with 3 small children competing for your attention. I also run an online virtual assistant business . I have few regular clients that need a couple hours from me each day. I use an online time clock program that is wonderful. I can sit down at my computer, turn it on one minute and then shut it off the next minute if the kids need me. This helps me keep track of my time without going crazy.

And finally, do you have any advice for parents considering starting their own business?

Go for it! Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. My work schedule is extremely flexible and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am done with the 9 to 5 jobs. It is so rewarding being your own boss and being able to be there for your children, especially when they are young and still at home.
Depending on what kind of work you want to do, be sure to research the idea first before jumping in too fast.
My husband recently started a moving company. He had all of the best intentions, but the one thing he neglected to do was research it first. He bought the truck. He got the supplies. But once it came to getting insurance, permits, etc. We found out that it was not possible because he needed a certain amount of commercial moving & driving experience.

The business went down in only a few short months. So, make sure you find out what the business entails FIRST, such as budget, taxes, insurance, and permits.

Pay Dawn a visit to her blogs and website. I think you’ll find them as inspirational and interesting as I do.


She recently hosted my givaway custom mural competition on her Nursery Murals and More blog. 

Keep an eye on my posts as after we announce the winner I will be blogging the custom mural process and my design work for the winner.

Entry filed under: Interviews with the Professionals. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. NATURE-CARE- FAHEEM  |  December 12, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    The hand painted wall murals are facinating and the interview is lively.

  • 2. artistryinfaux  |  May 8, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Dawn is such a multi task person. I have never meet her in person just on artisty forum boards and through reading her blog. She is an awesome artists….


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