A mural idea
The vibrant, whimsical murals of artist Lisa Lorek Quine ’12 are becoming a signature part of the landscape in her beloved hometown of Cleveland.
High school graduates and wedding parties pose in front of her popular “Dream Big” and “Come Together” murals, the inspirational simplicity of the messages complementing the intricacy of the fonts and patterns.
“Making a mural that is part of someone’s life event is so cool,” said Quine, who has hand-painted more than 80 murals since starting her own business in 2017. “It makes you feel so connected to your community.”
Clients range from mom-and-pop storefronts and Cleveland companies to major corporations, including Harley-Davidson, Mercedes-Benz, Holiday Inn, StubHub and DoorDash. In naming her one of the “Most Interesting People for 2020,” Cleveland Magazine noted, “Quine has left you letters all over the city.”
That recognition in her hometown was a career highlight, Quine said: “I love the city so, so much, and it really felt like I was not only a part of the community but actually making my own mark here, too. It’s like having a crush for a really long time and
finding out that they like you back.”
The artist’s former University of Dayton professors are equally impressed. Quine’s senior seminar instructor, Kathy Weil Kargl ’92, said her jaw dropped upon seeing Quine’s recent work. “There’s no end to what she can do,” said Kargl, a senior lecturer for UD’s art and design department.
Influences range from art deco to art nouveau, from the arts and crafts movement to mid-century modern. Quine is equally at home when designing a pre-Victorian-style Pride and Prejudice book cover or tackling a 40-foot mural spanning a city block. “I love exploring a variety of styles from the past, and I love it that my clients trust me to try different things,” she explained.
Marveled Kargl, “She has such a wide-ranging skill set.”
Such praise from her mentor feels “full circle and profound,” Quine said: “As an artist you often doubt yourself, so it really feels good to hear a compliment from someone who was so important to you.”
“As an artist you often doubt yourself, so it really feels good to hear a compliment from someone who was so important to you.”
That support is characteristic of a design faculty who helped seniors to develop their portfolio pieces and reached out with job leads after graduation, Quine said: “It felt like our professors actually cared and wanted to see us thrive.”
Close friend Caitlin Douglas Rambacher ’12 said Quine has been an ambassador for the program since the night they met at a freshman party. When a dormmate brought out a coloring book, Rambacher recalled, “We took our pages very seriously. By the end of the night, Lisa had convinced me to switch my major to visual communication design based on my coloring book skills.”
From that time on, the kindred spirits were virtually inseparable.
“My best memories are working on projects together, staying up until 3 a.m. at the College Park Center, bouncing ideas around,” said Rambacher, a senior art director for a Cleveland advertising agency.
During study breaks they recorded lip-syncing videos on their Macs and ordered Cousin Vinny’s pizza. But in the midst of all the fun, Rambacher said, they benefited from an exemplary design program: “One thing that really set the program apart is that our class critiques encouraged us to have a rationale behind all of our decisions in a piece, requiring us to create with purpose and give our designs meaning.”
After graduation Quine landed a job as art director for a Cleveland advertising agency, where she met her husband, Mark. The couple lives in Hudson, Ohio, with 2-year-old daughter Renny. “She’s not interested in coloring yet,” her mother quipped.
Quine loved her high-energy, full-tilt career as an art director, rarely fantasizing about starting her own business. As a side gig she started doing small hand-lettering projects; posting her work on Instagram attracted new clients, including Target, for whom she was asked to design — what else? — a coloring book.
She fell into mural work when asked to design four walls for a small office. She impulsively said yes, reasoning, “If I can draw it, I can paint it on a wall.”
Hand lettering, however, seemed more like her passion than her career — a hobby she picked up in high school, when she became intrigued by the hand-lettered lyrics on a Panic! At the Disco CD booklet. That led to countless hours of doodling — surely nothing serious or life-changing.
“I pictured myself working at a corner office as a creative director instead of standing on a sidewalk, battling the elements,” Quine said.
But one day, a property management company commissioned her to paint a seven-wall mural. “I took it as a sign from the universe that I should start my own business,” she said.
It can be grueling work that makes her commiserate with Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Quine confesses to a fear of heights as well “as being such a baby when it comes to extreme temperatures.” She has mastered the art of painting on a high scaffolding and working around pipes and electrical outlets.
“She’s a fantastic problem solver in her life and in her work,” Rambacher said. “She always finds a way to make it work.”
In 2018, Quine represented Cleveland in the city of Rouen, France, collaborating with two French artists to install a mural celebrating 10 years of being Sister Cities. That same year, she published a workbook, Vintage Hand Lettering, exploring 20 fonts from various time periods.
Her latest commission is painting a mural in the stairwell leading to the bridal suite in The LeBron James Family Foundation’s House Three Thirty, a multi-use community center.
“LeBron has been a huge part of bringing jobs and overall growth to the Akron community, serving families in need,” she said. “The mural itself is super detailed and colorful, full of florals and imagery featuring Akron and LeBron.”
The artist recently served as guest speaker for Kargl’s senior seminar class in the Dayton Arcade. She couldn’t help feeling envious of the new classroom space. “I felt like I was in New York City; it was so sleek and state-of-the-art,” she said.
Despite an initial case of nerves, Quine found it rewarding to talk to the students and to provide the level of professional expertise that had so enriched her experience as an undergraduate.
“I hope it helps them to see that a graphic designer doesn’t have to be chained to a desk,” she said. “It felt really cool to be back where it all started.”