Looking at the final product, it would be easy to assume that an established artist or design firm created the Rec’s new murals. In reality though, the murals were a homegrown labor of love and hard work by UA student Jeff Lowry and the Student Affairs Marketing team.
“We thought it would be nice to go for something colorful, energetic and semi-abstract,” says Lowry on his initial brainstorm with Student Affairs Marketing Creative Director, Misha Harrison. “Something that could motivate students and faculty who frequent the Rec Center.”
However, taking the sketches from that first brainstorm to the walls presented many challenges. “This was not an easy project to tackle,” explained Mark Zakrzewski, Interim Director, Department of Campus Recreation. “This is a highly visible, high-traffic facility with some amazing architectural features. We had very high expectations for the project.”
Getting the murals just right took more than a year. During that period Jeff challenged himself to mix up his usual creative routine. “The process that I came up with was very different from my typical way of creating. It involved a lot of layering of digital brush stokes, textures and color to create an abstract landscape full of movement and energy.”
Jeff also incorporated digital imagery of actual UA students to give his subjects a sense of motion. “The figures were created from photographs of athletes and students. I would break the figures apart to imply action and to integrate the figures into these highly energetic environments.”
“It’s always gratifying to work with students during the creative process, but this was a massive project. Jeff was up to the task and I think it’s safe to say he learned a ton! The scale itself was immense, but the steps involved, from ideation to client feedback and input, to measurement and installation, were formidable,” according to Harrison. “When Jeff graduates, his portfolio will put him head and shoulders above his competition!”
So far, reviews for the murals have been very positive.
“The designs are dynamic, colorful, illustrate action, achievement, strength, a sense of adventure, play and well-being,” said Zakrzewski. “They really highlight and complement what we have to offer here at Campus Recreation.”
“The murals look beautiful,” echoed Frank Farias, Associate Vice President, Student Affairs. “They’re all great.”
And Jeff, despite his characteristic modesty, is happy with the final installation, “Yes! Very excited,” he says. “To me they really help to energize the space.”