Love Yourself: A Digital Message Turned Public Art from NYC to ATX

Remember that “Love Yourself” Goodtype Tuesday challenge we did last February? Where New York City based designer and muralist, Jason Naylor, painted the winning entry submitted by San Diego artist Colleen O’Grady, into an actual mural on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in NYC! (ICYMI)

Well, during that 24 hour campaign, hundreds of “Love Yourself” entries came pouring in. It was tough deciding on the winning entry. But Jason did a fantastic job bringing Colleen’s “Love Yourself” entry to life! Since then, the colorful and friendly reminder to Love Yourself has invaded Instagram feeds hundreds of times. And we didn’t want it to stop there!

We believe one of the most powerful and effective ways to connect a message to a community is through public art. It is our mission through Goodtype to expose artists to a larger platform and spread good through the art of lettering.

Local Austin lettering artist, designer and now muralist, Tara Johnston submitted an amazing "Love Yourself" entry during the campaign that also begged to be turned into a mural. Being that we are fans of Tara’s and because we also come from Austin, we wanted to help bring her entry to life too—from Instagram to a giant wall!

The first organization that came to mind was HOPE. The main mission of the HOPE Campaign is to connect creatives with causes through projects and events. 

Naturally, when we reached out about finding a wall for Tara’s “Love Yourself” piece, we were met with open arms and helpful hands. Miles Starkey, HOPE Artist Project Manager, found us a behemoth 10’ x 17’ wall in East Austin, and in no time. We were elated to share the news with Tara.

 #GoodtypeTuesday "Love Yourself" entry by Tara Johnston

#GoodtypeTuesday "Love Yourself" entry by Tara Johnston

Despite this being only her second mural, she absolutely knocked it out of the park—completing it in five 5-hour days. Not to mention it was just last month, in the middle of the Texas summer heat with temperatures topping out in the near 100s.

Select photos by Chelsea Francis @ohhhchelsea.
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Below is a brief interview with Tara Johnston:

GT: When and how did you get your start doing murals?

Tara: "I’ve always had this creative drive to do more, to want more, and to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I try to explore every creative itch I get to find the thing that truly makes me happy. Taking my art large scale was the next natural progression for my career. Thankfully, Still Austin Whiskey Co fulfilled my desire to put paint on a wall and gave me my newfound title as “muralist.” It has been really cool to see that mural develop into a social media tool for their business and take on a new identity for the distillery."

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GT: What was the inspiration behind the design of your Love Yourself entry? And what does that phrase mean to you?

Tara: "The phrase “love yourself” has always held a lot of meaning for me personally. It’s a very simple notion, yet often hard to do at times. I believe once you truly love yourself you are able to see life for the beautiful gift that it is. You are able to love others, encourage others, and give back to your community in a positive way. I decided I wanted the lettering of my piece to speak to the simplicity of the phrase through a bold sans serif lettering style. The flowers and botanical details represent the beauty that can emerge once you embrace yourself for all your faults and start living life to its fullest."

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GT: Why was it important for you to take this piece from Instagram to a real-life mural?

Tara: "I love lettering, I love impacting a space with my art, and what better reminder can the world have than to simply “love yourself”? The power of the written word, combined with the art of lettering and design is, to me, the coolest thing in the world. It forces people to stop and ask questions, to dive deeper into the meaning of why it was created. Though Instagram is a great platform for these ideas to be shared, it’s important to me that art always has a place in public spaces. I’m so happy to have been a part of this campaign and I hope to contribute many more murals like it to the city of Austin and beyond."

GT: Had you previously known about HOPE?

Tara: "Everyone in Austin knows HOPE because of their contribution to helping artists foster and express their creativity through public use of their outdoor gallery at Castle Hill. I am thrilled to have partnered with them for this project and I’m excited about collaborating with them again in the future! They are an outstanding organization and I can’t wait to visit the new gallery out at Carson Creek Ranch."

 Mural in progress with @showgoatmuralworks in Austin, TX

Mural in progress with @showgoatmuralworks in Austin, TX

Other projects on the horizon for Tara include her upcoming Goodtype Lettering Workshop happening in Austin on August 18th. More info on that here. She also has a few more murals in the works and she just started working alongside Show Goat Mural Works with Josh Row (Goodtype Book 1 Artist) and Jason Archer. Josh & Jason are seasoned mural professionals here in Austin. “I’m excited to learn from them, paint with them, and grow my own business at the same time. Collaboration among artists is so important and I am thrilled to be sharing ideas and working together.”

Any Austinites or anyone visiting Austin soon, go get a “Love Yourselfie” with this beautiful wall before it’s gone. You can find the mural at the Hope Farmers Market at the corner of Onion St. and a one-way alley that runs south of the Plaza Saltillo—just north of 1500 East 4th St.

Find Tara at tarajohnston.co or follow her Instagram at @taraleighjohnston

Want to know more about HOPE? Next, we ask Zuzu Perkal, HOPE’s head of social how they got their start and what projects are on their horizon. Keep reading to learn how you can get involved.

GT: How did the HOPE Campaign get started?

Zuzu: "The HOPE Campaign was launched in December of 2006 with the support of contemporary artist Shepard Fairey (of Obey Giant) with the initial intent to raise awareness about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Since then, thousands of individuals and organizations have joined the movement. Inspired by this positive response, HOPE continues to grow and enroll new talent and partners every year."

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GT: How has HOPE impacted the community?

Zuzu: "The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a community paint park located at 11th & Baylor St. in downtown Austin, TX. This educational project is managed by the non-profit HOPE Events and was officially launched in March 2011, also with the help of contemporary artist Shepard Fairey. It is the only paint park of its kind in the USA and was developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive and educational messaging."

 HOPE Outdoor Gallery - Austin, TX

HOPE Outdoor Gallery - Austin, TX

GT: What upcoming projects does HOPE have on the horizon?

  • We have a weekly HOPE Farmer's Market every Sunday 11-3pm, located in East Austin on E 5th St & Comal.

  • Waller Creek Conservancy X HOPE mural project: Working together on a community partnership to brighten the Waterloo Park fence during construction with local murals. During this time the WCC is talking with the local community about what people would like to see at Waterloo Park.

  • The move of the HOG (HOPE Outdoor Gallery) to Carson Creek Ranch in East Austin

  • HOPS for HOPE: An annual art show to highlight the contributing artists, creatives & musicians from each year. We launched this annual event in 2007 by producing the first art show ever to be held in the top of LA City Hall titled “Light of HOPE.” The following year this art show was hosted at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica and has continued to be our most anticipated event each year since. The event will take place during E.A.S.T in November 2018.

GT: How can anyone help or get involved?

Zuzu: "We love to add new volunteers to our team and are always looking to expand our artist network and further connect with the community. Check out our website and to learn more about how to participate in our upcoming projects , please email murals@hopecampaign.org."

Follow HOPE on FB and Instagram:
Hope Campaign FB
HOPE Outdoor Gallery FB

@hopecampaign
@hopeoutdoorgallery

Words and interviews by Brooke Robinson.