I had a wonderful day doing a full-blown photo shoot with one of my Artists on my Moodee Cactus Records label. Meet the riveting Jonny Ford! And stroll along with me as I spotlight some of my favorite graffiti murals in Deep Ellum.
Deep Ellum was developed in the late 19th century composing mostly of arts and entertainment venues located just a little east of Downtown Dallas. It’s mixed with homes that have been there for decades, clubs, restaurants, quaint shops, unique furniture stores and art galleries.
Frank Campagna is one of the most sought out and hired Graffiti Artists in North Texas and as you wonder throughout Deep Ellum you will be admiring much of his best. His work is scattered all here and there! Not only is he known for his graffiti, Dallas loves him and remembers when he opened our first (unlicensed) punk club which was located in his Kettle Art Gallery. He is nicknamed “The Godfather of Deep Ellum”. Campagna has been painting murals and graffiti walls since 1989!
As years progressed and Deep Ellum kept advancing as an arts district, a group of artists associated with Frank’s Kettle Gallery began the “Deep Ellum Murals Project” in 2009. This is the birth of it’s gateway and as we know it today.
The art you see scattered throughout is typically commissioned by the artists. But from time to time someone may sneak in late at night and spray paint amazing art on the spree and hope they don’t get caught….like my nephew did. Luckily the establishment loved that particular piece he did and upon the police informing the venue owner that “the guy was arrested” and asked “do you want to press charges”, he decided to bail him out and paid him $10,000.00 to finish the project! Lucky Jon!
If you have a shop in Deep Ellum, you gotta keep up with the Jones’ and hire someone to paint far-out and one-of-a-kind artworks!
Deep Ellum is a creative hub for musicians and artists where the diverse murals provide an endless collection of backdrops for photographers. That’s why I selected this area for my full day photo shoot with the talented Jonny Ford!
Deep Ellum is the cultural epicenter for arts where the historical buildings showcase talents of many Dallas and international popular artists by providing expressive larger than life graffiti murals. One of the most popular murals is the large microphone so I decided to get a really good close-up of it.
If you love photographing Deep Ellum’s graffiti and murals, you should go back often. There is much changing there year to year, buildings being torn down making way for high rise apartments, restaurants coming and going, new clubs popping up and murals going away in the process. I have returned to find the “Flying Pig”, but it disappointed me that possibly a venue decided to add huge windows and the big piggie was not where I thought it was.
I’m so glad I was lucky at the right time a few years back to take the below pic of “That’ll Be The Day” flying pig!
New art work is always blooming and it’s hard to keep up! So allow me to make a suggestion. Park and pay in the legit spots, it’s worth it. Grab your camera and get jiggy with it!
You should start at one end of Elm Street, take your time and photograph both sides as you stroll along. I try to make notes of the mural artists as I go. At the end of Elm Street, turn south and u-turn your way to Main Street. And repeat these walking and photographing steps as you get to the end of Main to start down Commerce Street. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the retail delights along your way!
While you are on the west ends of these streets, you’ll also want to walk under the I-75 bridge where more awaits you along with a cool doggie park. Downtown Dallas is just on that other side!
Take your time while you are under the I-75 bridge or you will miss something. There are quirky and vibrant paintings on all sides of the columns. Small murals on concrete or metal pieces are spread out in this park style arena and will provide those “insta” selfie moments for ya!
After you have hit all these areas, make sure to drive around the full area and check out Canton Street, Virgil Street, Taylor Street and make your way to the Deep Ellum Brewing Company area. Plan to spend a full day, of course!
You will have a vibrant selection of restaurants to dine, you’ll meet lots of street people and fun vendors! You and I both know that for sure you will dive into many of the shops! I never leave there empty handed.
The above mural is one of the largest you will enjoy. I have taken many shots of it, but alas, cars are parked in front most of the time and you have to pick a time to be there when it’s just not that busy. So one of my trips, I took lots of close-ups and glad I did. There’s much going on depicting lots of Dallas history and events.
The weekends come alive with concert venues, indie musicians, theatre shows, tours and lots of interesting people wondering about! If you are visiting during a week day, you will still meet a lot of hustle & bustle fun; including many local folks enjoying the restaurants and shopping! It’s an experience you shall never forget!
As I mentioned at the start of today’s tale, I was in Deep Ellum for a purpose that day. I am Head of Moodee Cactus Records and I also am a Personal Band Manager for both the artists above. My day was busy taking lots of headshots and musician shots of Jonny, then Brad Sullivan of Kettlewell met us for lunch. Both of these talents are busy in the studio mastering their new albums. Kettlewell just submitted his first album to us titled “Live For Tomorrow” which will be released July 13, 2021. (More to come with this announcement and be sure to keep your eye on the main website for Moodee Cactus Records!)
I’ve been going to Deep Ellum since my teen years. It’s ever-changing, always brings surprises to me and full of history. I hope you enjoyed a visit to my photoshoot day and it’s tidbits! I have so many more photos on Deep Ellum, there will be future posts to come!
I put some of my above photos on my photography website where they are available as canvas wraps, merchandise and more!
Thanks so much for visiting! See you next time!
Tanya Elise’ Howard