This piece is part of our LALtoday Q+A series. Do you know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.
If you’ve never met Gillian Fazio, you’ve likely seen her name and artwork on the side of a wall downtown or in Dixieland. This local muralist is best known for her iconic “Let’s Ride” mural on Bent’s Cyclery, The Gaines jewelers wall (inspired by tobacco leaf by Mottahedah), and the Florida oranges that grace the wall of The Yard on Mass.
We asked Gillian 10 questions about leaving her mark on Lakeland. Keep reading to learn her dream wall, favorite local restaurant, and how she got her start.
Q: Describe your perfect Lakeland day and tell us something every Lakelander should know about.
A: Start with coffee at a local coffee shop, walk around Mayfair with my family, then hang out and cook at home. And, my online mural tour! My website actually has a list of every mural that I’ve done.
Q: You’re bringing one local restaurant’s food to a deserted island: what is it?
A: Mega Mercado. I’ll drive there just for tacos or carne asada.
Q: What are three things you’ve recently done locally?
A: The Saturday market. I visit my clients and friends who are vendors, like Krazy Kombucha and Joclyn Emerson Art, who does small paintings. They’re custom and beautiful. Then I’m always bopping around to the food truck rally. And I just finished touching up the Create wall [at Catapult].
Q: Which local leaders are you watching?
A: I’m super interested in Bonnet Springs Park and what everyone involved is building over there. It’s making a great future for Lakeland and generations to come. Also, Alis Drumgo and the whole Lakeland CRA team. They’re always thinking outside the box on how to include arts and keep building while beautifying. My third is David Collins, a Lakeland artist, who taught me about being involved in the community.
Q: How did you end up painting murals? Was that always your goal?
A: I was always interested in painting. I went to Rochelle School of the Arts, then Harrison. I majored in painting at the University of Florida. In college, I did a mural for a local elementary school and then I got into the groove of painting on a larger and larger scale, so it came naturally.
Q: Do businesses typically reach out to you, or vice versa?
A: At the beginning, I was approaching people and showing them my portfolio. I’m always thinking when I see a blank wall, “what could it potentially be?” Now it’s usually people seeing my social media and seeing my work in person, and coming to me with something in mind. Then I take a picture of their wall and photoshop options on it, so they know exactly what they’re buying.
Q: Is painting on such a large scale intimidating?
A: I have butterflies in my stomach before I start every wall, but it’s like if you’re about to climb a mountain or play a football game. You just are like, “alright, we have a journey ahead.”
Q: Whenever you’re painting a wall, especially in Florida, I’m sure you have to think about how it will weather over time. Do you seal it, or do you have to use a special paint, or touch them up often?
A: Normally, I spend extra to get the highest quality paint. People ask if I seal it, but I would prefer just to use really high quality, UV resistant paint. Sherwin Williams Resilience has been great for me.
Q: How would you describe your style of murals?
A: Bright, colorful, flora + fauna, and realistic. I would love to do a mural with a portrait. I used to do that when I was in college, and then I found this little niche that’s been going really well, and I’m enjoying every part of it. But I would love to have a mural that has a portrait in it.
Q: Do you have a dream wall that you’re like, “I need to get some paint on that wall?”
A: If they’re two stories high and have no windows, my heart skips a beat. There’s a few around downtown, and believe me, I’m going to paint them someday. I would also love to be in a mural festival. St. Pete has a great program called Shine Mural Festival that I’m hopefully going to be involved with, crossing my fingers!