Light cascaded through the curved windows as we slopped paint onto the wall.
Mural painting occurred in shifts. First, actually applying the paint. Second, stepping away from the wall to make sure that you could see the entire picture. And third, convincing yourself that the last stripe you painted on the tiger wasn’t the wrong color. Now picture this activity in a curved stairwell, where the tiger looks different depending on the angle. And where there really isn’t much room for you to step back so that you’re sufficiently far from the wall, at least not without flopping your left foot into the welcoming mouth of an orange paint bucket.
As a designer for the Student Design Agency, I work on design projects for various departments at Princeton. This mural was larger than most projects, so I had the opportunity to work with two other designers. Since I was a new member, I hadn’t met either of them before, but that did not stop us from quickly falling in tandem — passing each other brushes of the right size, ducking out of the way when someone had to paint above the current location of your head and quickly handing along the drop cloth when an inevitable drop of paint trickled down the wrong part of the wall.
Only a week before, I had sketched out the design and sent it to the client who commissioned it for approval. It felt like a grander-than-life ordeal, tracking an idea from a thought to a sketch, to 9 feet of curved stairwell.
The issue with working in a stairwell is that of post-event foot traffic where, at times, we had to politely suggest the use of an elevator. But not to worry we benefited by taking one too many breaks to eat tortilla chips leftover from the event. Tortilla chips over salsa, laughter and the scrutiny of drying paint.
The beautiful thing about Princeton is that it gives you many opportunities to create — in whatever form you want, and in the time and the space that best suits you. And in exchange, it feels great to literally leave your mark on these walls.