Muralists and business partners Allison Dunnavant and Christine Crawford spend more than 40 hours a week on the job. (Photo courtesy of Christine Crawford)
Two South Carolina women joined forces just over a year ago and since have been business partners prospering in a male-dominated industry.
The business, Girls Who Paint Murals, was born after the artists met on Instagram. Why work together? It’s more fun, more efficient and they get more jobs.
They’re adaptive and mobile. Crawford and Dunnavant have done work from D.C. to Florida, but primarily do jobs in South Carolina because most of their work comes via word of mouth.
Christine Crawford of Columbia and Allison Dunnavant of Charleston are more than just muralists, Dunnavant said. They’re business owners in a public art industry that’s predominantly male.
They say the manual labor aspect of the job is the reason fewer women get involved.
“We’re a contracted service,” Dunnavant said. “You know, murals go hand-in-hand with branding and marketing, so that often puts us on construction sites and that sort of thing.”
It’s been difficult to be women on construction sites, Crawford said.
The contractual process, structuring payment terms and working on site are all part of the job.
The biggest challenge they face is people not wanting to pay their prices, assuming their career path is merely a hobby, they say.
They work at least 40 hours a week, according to Crawford, which includes painting, researching, designing, revising, meetings and client communication.
The duo does at least one to two murals per week, with hand-painted signage jobs mixed in.
Many commissioners want to create “Instagrammable moments,” Dunnavant said, a growing trend in the past five to 10 years.
They naturally divide tasks based on their strengths. Crawford mainly sticks to text, lettering and lines because of her precision. And Dunnavant primarily does the blended aspects in portraits and landscapes.
The combination of their skills brings “realism and whimsicalness together,” said Crawford – which allows them to have a “really unique style and (the ability to) cater to whatever (their) client’s needs are stylistically,” Dunnavant said, finishing her sentence.
They recently, just in the Midlands, painted eight snake habitats at Riverbanks Zoo, a donated railroad caboose in the Vista area for Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit that advocates for railroad safety, and business signage along Devine Street.
Other notable works include the alleyway on State Street near Meeting Street in West Columbia.
“It is absolutely gorgeous,” said Janice Cowen, former state coordinator for Operation Lifesaver. “They’re making the world a more beautiful place, one wall at a time, or one caboose at a time, in my case.”
The pair has upcoming projects in Clemson, Charleston and Myrtle Beach among other places.
Many of the pair’s murals can be found in Charleston. (Photo courtesy of Christine Crawford)
The muralists painted snake enclosures at Riverbanks Zoo. (Photo courtesy of Christine Crawford)
Operation Lifesaver, #saveYOURcaboose, hired Girls Who Paint Murals to advocate for railroad safety. (Photo by Margaret Walker)
The duo paints a mural featuring a colorful portrait in Mount Pleasant. (Photo courtesy of Christine Crawford)