Local muralist’s bold lettering, imagery brightens views across Northeast Ohio and beyond

by Charles Cassady

For Lisa Quine, the writing is on the wall. Literally.

The Hudson resident is a much in-demand muralist. Her moving fingers have writ and moved on extensively, enhancing public sites and thoroughfares, indoors and outdoors, for corporate clients, as well as big cities and small towns. Chances are, Quine’s hand lettering and patterns have crossed your eyes more than once.

Currently undertaking a design for the JACK Casino, she has decorated using colorful, often whimsical designs that tend to emphasize words and slogans – “BE THE LIGHT” at Lake Catholic High School, “DREAM BIG” at Gordon Square – in elaborate, oversized fonts that sometimes hearken back to art-nouveau and Victoriana printing styles, other times invoke the contemporary.

Quine’s distinctive, emblematic imagery has enhanced environments ranging from a gym in Rouen, France (a 2018 “sister-cities” project undertaken in conjunction with the city of Cleveland), to the corporate headquarters of the cutting-edge audiobook company FindaWay in Solon and from a Holiday Inn in Orlando, Florida, to the LeBron James Family Foundation in Akron.

“I enjoy creating the art so much that I really don’t have a preference on what kind of project it is,” she said. “I’m the type of person who gets bored easily, so it’s nice to mix design and lettering projects in with the murals. It’s also interesting to see how the lettering craze got taken over by the mural craze, so I’m working on trying to stay up-to-date on overall industry trends.”

Whilst Cleveland prepares for a hyped 2022 exhibit of the iconic and mysterious UK graffiti artist called “Banksy,” Quine considers her oeuvre to be more akin to interior design than guerilla-style “street art” installations.

“I have always enjoyed painting and taking fine arts classes, but I’m very much a graphic-designer-muralist in the sense that my murals are simplistic and graphic, but not too realistic or conceptual like street art tends to be,” she said.

As for her extra-large canvases, Quine explained that she tends to prefer interior murals because they feature smooth paint surface, no weather delays and most importantly functional bathroom facilities.

“Exterior murals take a little longer, you can’t paint in the rain, and you have to venture off every time nature calls,” she said. “Indoor murals are like a walk in the neighborhood while exterior murals are like an adventurous hike.”

The Mentor native almost always dips her brushes in paint brands sold by Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams for its ease of use. If a mural project is on a vast scale, with large areas of solid color, she hires assistants.

“However,” she added, “if the design is complex and requires an extra-steady hand for intricate detail work, I’ll fly solo.”

In the uncertain world of outdoor murals and shifting indoor modifications, Quine said she doesn’t get “too attached” to her works but expects they will last for up for at least 10 years, “because that’s how long the folks at Sherwin-Williams claim the paint is good for.”

Quine studied graphics communications and design at the University of Dayton. She’s created hand-lettered illustrations – a discipline she differentiates from calligraphy – on paper ever since high school. Today, she roughs out her wall schematics on an Apple iPad.  

“The way I try to explain it is calligraphy is the art of making handwritten work look like a perfect font. It’s very structured and takes a lot of practice to master the brush strokes. Hand lettering is a little more loose, anything-goes style,” she said.

Social media gave Quine a push into full-time muraling. She began posting pictures of her side-gig, large-scale works on Instagram while working as art director at the Cleveland-based ad agency Brokaw (where she met her husband Mark). The posts attracted 37,000 followers and approaches by potential clients.

In 2017, after Lisa moved on to art directing at Global Prairie, she followed the suggestion of the new boss that she embark as a muralist and “creative consultant” as a profession.

“I thought I would give it a try and haven’t changed it yet!” she said.

Subsequent offers that came her way included fashioning an adult coloring-book for Target, and, in 2020, a how-to book, “Vintage Hand Lettering: Create Beautiful Fonts with Old Time Flourish,” issued by Massachusetts-based Page Street Publishing.

“They publish all sorts of tutorial books, so this was very structured and laid out to fit a formula they’ve created” Quine said. “All I had to do was choose which styles to teach and then write and illustrate the chapters. It took about two months to carry out all the work, but I really appreciated the structure they had in place because this was my first book.”

Another milestone was moving to Hudson.

“My husband and I have been moving quite a bit, but we knew we wanted our ‘forever home’ to be in Hudson, because we’ve only heard great things about the neighborhood, the schools, the shops, the parks, etc. Hudson is a perfect commute to my family in Mentor, Mark’s family in Akron and my work all over NEO.”

So far, she said, she has not had any commissions that would result in a public Lisa Quine mural in Hudson, but that “ever since moving here, it’s at the top of my list!”

Home-based decorative work also is not out of the question.

“I currently stick with commercial and municipal, but if the project is a great fit and something I’m 100% interested in, I would consider a private commission. This year I installed a garage mural in the guest house of a couple out in Kirtland. They love Art Deco – like I do – and they got married at Severance Hall, so I installed an Art Deco mural in their garage, highlighting major life events. On the garage doors themselves, I painted a loose replica of the pattern in Severance Hall around the stage where the orchestra performs.”

Samples of the handiwork of Lisa Quine can be found at lisaquine.com. ∞