Art | Community | Events | Outdoors

A call for walls: City-wide mural project needs you!

I need your help. We’ll get to that.

The name of my creative agency is Detroit Lives!. Gotta say, when people hear that, they typically look at me like the Bob’s in the movie Office Space. “So what exactly do ya do here?!”

Our business model is shockingly simple: 70 percent clients, 30 percent whatever. This too can be perplexing when I talk about it. The 70 percent– our clients– demand high quality, well produced video– TV commercials, brand videos, sales videos and just about everything in between. It’s fun. Every project is different. You become a glorified arbitrator of sorts, intervening to solve a problem. And the problem is always different, which usually leads to occasional late nights and lots of head scratching.

Which brings me back to the 30 percent. The “whatever.” Honestly, that’s what keeps Detroit Lives! honest and true. That’s what keeps us playful and capable. The whatever has birthed After the Factory, our award-winning 2012 documentary looking at what comes after the industrial era through folks on the ground in Detroit and a similarly situated city in Poland called Lodz (once a huge booming industrial textile town). The whatever encouraged us to make a simple screen printed poster that eventually was sold in Urban Outfitters all over Europe. The whatever has created a vibrant street art project called MANTRACITY (Mantra + City + Monstrosity) whereby we take a cue from Stephen Powers’ work to paint fun, playful and loving message-based murals throughout the city. Here’s some to look at:


People have had their wedding photos taken in front of the “Martian” wall at Eastern Market, strangers have fixed the “Kahn” mural after taggers defaced it and major magazines have featured the “Wake up” mural inside their pages. Then there’s the thousands and thousands of Detroiters that pass by these murals every day and get a casual lift or a smile. We keep getting reminded (in many different ways) that they’re special to a lot of different people. Naturally, we want to keep that going.

So, here’s where you come in. We want to grow the scope of MANTRACITY even more. We want to paint more walls and work with more everyday people in their neighborhoods to create more of these murals. So, do you have a wall in your neighborhood or on a friend’s building that may be a good candidate? Maybe, just maybe, you have a friend that works for Sherwin-Williams that may be able to throw some paint in the pot (exterior high gloss enamel to be exact)? Heck, perhaps you have a scissor lift? Well, get in touch. To date, my company has financed four of these murals which on average, depending on size, run about $3,000 a pop. We’ll commit to painting, we just need some help with locations and materials.

The call for walls and paint is on. Give us a hand in keeping the project moving. If you’ve got some thoughts or ideas, speak up! Send us a Tweet, Instagram us a photo of a wall, or just send us a regular old email:

Philip Lauri
Philip Lauri is the Creative Director of Detroit Lives! LLC, a social brand and creative studio specializing in film production. With experience in sourcing and creative marketing for firms in Chicago and Portland, Philip returned to hometown Detroit in 2008 to start DL!. When not tackling client work and DL! projects, he’ll take every chance to jump a plane to Colombia or sit on the couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.