Niles’ own mural man
Published 5:15 pm Monday, August 19, 2013
Ever since Robert Mitchell was a kid, people have been telling him he should be making money off his artwork.
“All of our friends, relatives, people that drive by and see him [painting] — everybody’s told him he’s so good and ask, ‘why aren’t you making a living off of this?’” said Mitchell’s wife, Pam.
At age 56, Robert is giving art a try.
Robert started his own business, Mitchell’s Murals and Graphic Design, last month. He operates out of his home at 911 Margaret Street, Niles.
Robert’s first job went to his wife, who commissioned him to paint the spaghetti scene from the Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp” on their 16-foot garage door. Pam runs P.J.’s Puppy Daycare out of the home, too.
It’s already attracting a lot of attention from neighbors and passersby.
“Our neighbors would walk their grandkids over to see his progress,” Pam said. “The other day I watched a car go by real slow and stop. A little girl’s head pops out from the backseat and her eyes are wide. That’s kind of neat to see.”
Robert created his first mural at age 17 after painting throughout his childhood. He painted the cover of the Aerosmith album “Dream On” on his bedroom wall.
“After that, all my friends wanted their album on their wall. One had Kiss, one had Boston, one had Bad Company — I painted for all my friends.”
Robert grew up on 13th Street and graduated from Niles High in 1975.
He worked for Tyler Refrigeration for 23 years until it closed in 2009. All that time, he continued to paint, mostly for himself. He painted many Tyler Refrigeration-sponsored rafts in the Niles Riverfest Raft Race, including a 1957 Chevrolet raft and an S.S. Minnow raft.
Most of his work can be seen hanging on the walls of his home.
“Painting just comes naturally to me. It feels to me like everyone should be able to do this because it comes so natural to me,” Robert said. “I guess it’s like people who can sing or play the guitar — they probably think everyone should be able to do it, but ain’t no way I can do that.”
After losing his job at Tyler, Robert decided to go back to school. He obtained a degree in graphic arts from Southwestern Michigan College in 2012.
That led to him opening Mitchell’s Murals and Graphic Design.
He offers many services, including indoor/outdoor mural painting, graphic design for print advertising and website design.
“I can paint or draw anything,” he said.
Mitchell can be contacted by phone at (269) 683-7766 or online at mitchellmurals.com. He’s also on Facebook.