Fuming Guerilla Productions (FGP), an Oakland-based arts organization, works to match local and national artists with organizations and businesses looking to beautify their communities. With a unique approach to community-organized and nonprofit art production, Fuming Guerilla’s strategy has made it a respected entity among artists, city employees, business owners, and community members alike. The artists are paid for their work, just as they would be with any other contract, and their focus is to enhance the community experience by strategically pairing artists with a project and location.
In addition to many other projects around Oakland, Fuming Guerilla has recently worked with 2015 Oaklandish Innovators’ Award winner, Cat Town Cafe. Cat Town co-founder, Adam Myatt, was familiar with Fuming Guerilla Production’s work from TDK’s Wrist Ship Supply mural in West Oakland. He wanted to get artwork done in the cafe’s Cat Zone that would reflect the appropriate vibe. He knew Fuming Guerilla had an extensive network of artists they work with, so he allowed them to provide the artists and was happy to work with their concepts.
Since Cat Town is registered as a nonprofit, FGP organized artists that would do the job for a small stipend, as well as compensation for supplies. The results were stupendous and have been well-received by Cat Town’s many visitors.
The Cat Town Cafe murals were created by TDK members Brian Manaois (AKA Derp) and Thitiwat Phromratanapongse, (AKA Somni). They were advised by Mike Tyau (AKA Bam), also from the TDK Family, as to the artistic approach and colors. It was FGP’s idea to have the Cat Town Cafe murals showcase a couple of up and coming artists, so they consulted Bam on who he thought would be good candidates. The artists Somni and Derp had just finished assisting in the creation of the Wrist Ship Supply mural and had shown to be apt pupils, so Bam suggested having them on the project.
FGP facilitated a meet up between the artists and the Cat Town Cafe owners to discuss the project. Originally Myatt had wanted a more realistic looking mural (along the lines of the Wrist Ship Supply project), but after taking into consideration what the Cat Town Cafe vibe would be, FGP and the artists suggested a lighter, more fun theme that still fully incorporated Oakland and Children’s Fairyland.
This illustrates one of FGP’s strengths: explaining and championing an artist’s vision and conveying the thought process of a project to a client. Often a client will have an idea, but as an entire group explores what the artist has in mind, it can become more collaborative and often times result in a better work of art. Generally, FGP will ask a client to give the theme to the artist, but then trust the artist go with that theme and fill in all the details within the artwork. In the case of Cat Town, the owners asked for an Oakland theme that included Children’s Fairyland and gave the artists creative control. The final result you can see upon the walls of the Cat Zone!