Heart of the Arts: Meet Muralist George F. Baker III
Baker looks to lift up, connect with Midtown community during his year-long residency
George F. Baker III, pictured in his new artist studio at Peachtree Pointe.
BY ELLIE HENSLEY
George F. Baker III “absolutely loves everything he is doing right now.”
Baker recently left behind his career as a graphic designer to pursue a career as a full-time muralist and illustrator. He was also one of six artists to be chosen for Midtown Alliance’s Heart of the Arts Studio Residency Program, which means that for the next year, he has his own studio space to work out of at Dewberry Capital’s Peachtree Pointe office building at the north end of the district.
It’s the first time Baker has ever had studio space, and he plans to make the most of it.
“I’ve always operated out of my bedroom, which has its benefits and its trials,” he said. “[The residency program] has really helped me realize one of my dreams, to have a studio where I can create things.”
Keep Dancing, a mural Baker painted in Panama City, Fla.
More Than 25 Murals … And Counting
From Legos to designing through video games, Baker has loved to create things since childhood. But he only started muraling three years ago, when a friend called him up with an opportunity to paint a mural at Switchyards Downtown.
“What attracted me to murals was I could transform a space with just a little bit of paint and intuition,” he said. “It brings me so much joy to be able to just say, ‘I have a concept for this space and I feel like it will improve the space around it.’”
In three short years, Baker has completed more than 25 murals in cities including Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and Panama City, Fla. He has also designed a cover for Atlanta Magazine, has helped create advertisements for Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, and painted a storefront for Slutty Vegan. Whether you have realized it or not, chances are you have seen his work.
It’s a great Saturday in the A when #midtownatl artist-in-residence and @GeorgiaStateU alum @_gfb3 is on nat’l TV painting a @CoIIegeGameDay mural! ??? pic.twitter.com/Sn4X6Bamks— Midtown Atlanta (@MidtownATL) August 28, 2021
Baker once used his typography skills to design logos as a graphic designer. Now he uses it to communicate positive messages in his murals.
An Affinity for Typography
“Take Care;” “Be You;” “Be A Light;” “Yup! Things WIll Be Better.” Typography — and positive messaging — play a huge role in Baker’s work.
“I always like saying something with my work,” he said. “And you can do that visually, of course, but I like having the typography component with it to tie everything together.”
Watch this short interview with George in his studio and learn how he approaches his work, from the sketchpad to the wall (runtime: 2 mins).
Baker is inspired by everything from streetwear brands to Japanese design to Johnny Cash. But when he is commissioned to paint a mural, he goes into the neighborhood or space with no particular concept in mind.
“For me, it’s always important to ask questions, to get to know the people and the community and to have that inform what I do,” he said. “What really drives my work is the intentionality, I’m trying to say something that reflects the character of where I am. Otherwise, at the end of the week it will be complained about at the [Neighborhood Planning Unit] meeting or sprayed over, and I don’t want that.”
However, the ephemeral nature of murals doesn’t bother Baker.
“It never bums me out that it’s temporary,” he said. “I just know that in the time it’ll be there, it’ll affect a lot of people that will see it. Some people will be able to hold it a lot longer than the wall will, and that works for me.”
One of Baker’s goals during his residency is to paint a few murals around the district.
“Overall I’ve always felt that Midtown is a place that really respects great design, artists, and just having an artful way of living.” he said. “I want to be able to do a couple of murals not only with help from the Heart of the Arts program, but also some of the citizens and neighbors here. I want to be able to express something they feel hasn’t been expressed in Midtown, to bring that to life.”
See Baker’s work on his website here and follow him on Instagram here.