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Artistic Inspiration

From Scientist to Artist: The Murals of Cloe Hakakian

Cloe Hakakian thought she was going to pursue a career in medicine but a passion for public art led her to a new calling.

Los Angeles-based artist Hakakian is now known for her colorful street murals but she wasn’t always a professional artist known for her works at the PaliHotel on Melrose and at Art Basel in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, among others. Hakakian graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience and worked for ten years at Cedars Sinai before leaving her job to pursue a career in art.

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She credits her medical background with instilling the discipline and work ethic needed to succeed in a competitive field like street art. Science influences her actual artwork as well. “I also studied a lot of anatomy, which tends to show up in my artwork frequently,” says Hakakian.

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One of Hakakian’s favorite parts of the mural process is buying paint, and she loves to use Dunn-Edwards Paints. “I feel like a kid in a candy store! Nick, at my local store on Sunset, always helps me find the right Dunn-Edwards product for each of my projects,” she says. She uses SPARTASHIELD the most. “I've always been happy with my results as far as quality is concerned.”

See how Hakakian uses Dunn-Edwards Paints to create her large-scale works like those pictured below.

I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK

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Size: 9 ft. x 55 ft. wall
Location: Philz Coffee in El Segundo, CA
Dunn-Edwards Paints Used: Black (DEA187), White (DEW380), Purple Pride (DE5991), Peruvian Lily (DE5004), Cobalt (DEA140), Navy Teal (DE5832), Soleil (DE5419), Rocky Mountain Red (DET442), Drenched Rain (DE5883), Vivid Violet (DE5012), Hot Jazz (DEA107), Palace Purple (DE5993)

Hakakian chose a space theme for this mural because of its proximity to LAX and its location
within the shopping center called Apollo Landing.

Dia De Los Muertos Altar Piece

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Size: 16 ft. x 200 ft. wall
Location: Wynwood Arts District, Miami Beach
Dunn-Edwards Paints Used: Black (DEA187), Sail Away (DE5836), Pretty In Pink (DE5023), Americana (DE5845), Exuberant Orange (DEA112), Real Raspberry (DE5039), Sweet Garden (DE5696), Pool Party (DE5837), Artificial Turf (DE5635), Palace Purple (DE5993), Chartreuse (DEA123), Cupid’s Arrow (DE5061), White (DEW380)

Painted during the Art Basel 2017 festivities, Hakakian chose to pay tribute to five powerful and iconic women whom she admires: Frida Kahlo, Cleopatra, Wonder Woman, Queen Elizabeth and Jackie Kennedy. The women are immortalized in the Day of the Dead altar. “As a woman working in a male-dominated field, I constantly find myself looking for inspiration in other powerful women,” she says.

Orange Blossoms

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Size: 15 ft. x 30 ft. wall
Location: Philz Coffee in Fullerton, CA
Dunn-Edwards Paints Used: Black (DEA187), Fresh Cut Grass (DE5599), Light Pine (DE5535),Sandy Shore (DE5456), Spiced Nectarine (DE5193), Tangerine Tango (DE5194), Golf Course (DE5601), Lucky Clover (DEA130), Bright Mango (DE5195), White (DEW380)

Hakakian chose an orange theme for her work here because Fullerton is known for its citrus, and she really wanted the mural to have strong ties to the community.

Flower of Life and Sri Yantra Mandala

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Size: 14 ft. x 16 ft. wall
Location: SoulPlay Yoga Studio in Culver City, CA.
Dunn-Edwards Paints Used: Oasis (DET546), Gulf Stream (DE5759), Port Hope (DE5731), Frostproof (DE5777)

Since it was designed for a yoga studio, the mural combines a calming, dreamscape background with sacred geometry. Hakakian says this gives the yogis in class something to focus on, while still providing a sense of serenity.

Cherry Blossom Deer

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Size: 12 ft. x 16 ft. wall
Location: Palihotel on Melrose, Los Angeles CA.
Dunn-Edwards Paints Used: Black (DEA187), White (DEW380), Desert Gray (DEC760), Northern Territory (DEA158), Fiery Fuchsia (DEA101), Muddy Mauve (DE5016)

Hakakian modeled the mural’s theme after a restaurant in the hotel called The Hart and the Hunter. “I thought it would be cute to incorporate the fabled deer.” The cherry blossoms in the deer’s antlers are tribute to her late grandfather, who she says loved the flower.

Cherry blossoms also represent the fragility and beauty of life in Japanese culture. “They are a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but also tragically short,” she says.

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As a muralist, Hakakian’s work is often sought out for Instagram photos, something she says she loves. “It is a humbling experience to have a complete stranger love your artwork so much that they not only want to take a photo, but they also want to share that photo to their network,” says Hakakian.

Photos courtesy of Cloe Hakakian