Artist builds community through color
Published 8:23 am Thursday, September 8, 2022
Story Dawn Nolan | Photography Shannon Shank, Submitted
At just 23 years old, Ashland native Madeline Tipton is making a name for herself as an artist and business owner. She started her company, The Tipton Creative, in April 2021, and since then, she has painted more than two dozen murals around the area — in local businesses, public spaces and private residences.
“I do murals full-time, and I see myself doing that for the long-term,” Tipton said. “It’s not what I thought I’d be doing with my life, but I really love it.”
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Tipton attended Morehead State University where she majored in communications and marketing. She was particularly interested in fundraising and nonprofit work, so after graduating in November 2020, she decided to pursue an MPA — Master of Public Administration. After a few semesters, she decided that program wasn’t for her, so she planned to switch gears and go for an MBA. Meanwhile, she’d decided to get a “fun job” that was lower stress. She ended up working at a local boutique, Pretty & Poised.
“I also started an Etsy shop doing stickers and I started a Facebook group called Ashland Artists and Supporters, so artists could get jobs,” Tipton said. “Painting and drawing were just hobbies of mine that I always had. But, one thing led to another, and someone asked me to do a mural at The Nest Day Spa [in Russell].”
From there, things snowballed, and she received more and more requests. Most of Tipton’s work has been in the Ashland/Russell/Boyd County area, but she recently completed a horse racing themed mural for an Airbnb in Louisville.
“I loved that one, but it was also really different because it was for an Airbnb,” Tipton said. “We had to schedule around bookings, and then we had to reschedule because of rain, and then it was consistently cold, so we had to get the whole thing done in about five days. Also, horses are hard animals to draw in general, and it was like a 100-year-old house, so there were parts of the brick that were difficult to get into and a few different textures to account for.”
Both weather and the wall itself are things that have to be accounted for with most murals, particularly exterior ones, Tipton said.
“For outdoor murals, the weather plays a big part — if it rains, if it’s too cold, if it’s too hot — all of that can be a factor,” she said. “And depending on if it is drywall, if it’s brick or some kind of stone, that is something you have to take into consideration as well. If it’s a more textured wall, it’ll take more time to fit in between the crevices and may soak in more of the paint. And if you’re trying to do straight lines on brick, you have to take into account the grooves in it. Really, you just have to work with what’s there.”
As for the process itself, it usually goes like this: Tipton will access the wall and take the needed measurements, she will then prepare a client estimate and establish a timeline with the client. A contract is then signed and a deposit is paid before the design consultation occurs.
“It’s either going to be a custom design or someone’s logo,” Tipton said. “Sometimes, people know exactly what they want for their design and other aren’t really sure. I work with them and then give them two rounds of revisions. Once the design is approved, we can get started.”
Personally, Tipton says she is “drawn towards color,” but the designs are more about the brand messaging than anything else.
“I like to make designs that are bold and meaningful or symbolic in some way,” she said. “But if its for a business, what matters is that it somehow ties into the brand and communicates the brand and attracts new people to that business.”
Tipton does most of her work solo, but she’s had an assistant for a couple projects and her sister, Allyson Eyermann, has helped her with a few as well.
“She’s [Eyermann] seven years older, and she was an art major and has always been like a role model to me,” she said. “She’s really helped support me in starting my business.”
Acrylic latex paint, brushes, her iPad and (sometimes) a projector are usually all the tools Tipton needs to complete a piece.
“I like using a projector so that way, the client gets to see exactly what they’re going to get,” Tipton said.
Depending on the complexity of the design, Tipton can usually complete a mural in four to seven days. Logos are a quick turnaround, usually taking only a day or two.
“The longest was nine days,” she said. “Depending on what my schedule is like, I’ll work anywhere from six to 12 hours a day.”
A few other recent murals Tipton has painted include one for the City of Ashland at Ashland Riverfront Park to emphasize the new creativity-focused branding, one for The Coffee Doc’s location in the Ashland Town Center, another for The Local Mercantile in South Ashland (see story on page 17) and one for the new A W Meat House in Argillite.
“That one [the cow at A W] was really fun to do, and it only took two days,” Tipton said. “I also loved doing the library mural with book characters at Hager Elementary, too, and the design for The Mill’s new location.”
She even had the chance to restore one of the Denise Spalding’s flood wall murals highlighting women’s history.
“It was a true honor to be asked to do that,” Tipton said.
Tipton also worked on a panel recently for the Central Park Sensory Garden, which she found very rewarding.
“It was like four by eight feet and one side there are squirrels for visual stimulation and then on the front there are different textures and things to make sounds with, so that it could be therapeutic for kids with autism. It was meaningful because you get to see the tangible impact — you get to see the kids and the difference you’re making.”
Her murals are also making an impact, as evidenced by the amount of social media photos people take with them.
“It gets people excited,” Tipton said. “It’s part of revitalization.”
One example is the Country Music Highway mural for Art Alley (located between 15th and 16th streets in downtown Ashland) she painted that includes hometown musicians Billy Ray Cyrus, Naomi and Wynonna Judd.
“When Naomi passed away people were taking pictures and leaving flowers,” Tipton said. “That was really special.”
While it might not be what she had initially thought she’d be doing with her life, Tipton is still doing good by, as her tagline says, “creating art to celebrate, commemorate and build community.”
“There’s been a huge movement in the area, and here in Ashland — my hometown — to support local artists and want them to succeed, and that makes me really excited,” Tipton said. “I never thought I’d move back home after college, but It’s been really awesome.”
Contact Madeline at email@example.com and follow her business on social media (Facebook, Instagram and TikTok): @thetiptoncreative.