A trip to California and a Barack Obama poster are the very American backdrops to Burnley’s now famous Sean Dyche mural.
Creator Paul Jones, who set up his Graffia graffiti studio late last year, has revealed his trans-Atlantic inspirations, how he hopes his mural will be the perfect “billboard” for his business, and his dream to paint more public areas in Burnley.
The 34-year-old former Habergham High pupil admits he was overwhelmed with the positive public response when his mural appeared on the side of a disused building in Westgate.
“A friend joked that my mural was the best PR stunt or free advertising I could have hoped for.
“Graffiti and art in general is something I’ve been interested in since I was a young boy,” Paul told us as we met in his office cum studio at Northbridge House in Elm Street.
An interest in football, although Paul admits to not being a partisan supporter, is also apparent by the presence of football boots scattered around the room.
Dyche has become something of an icon himself in Burnley, guiding the club to another promotion, and so I wanted him with his chin up looking ahead to the futurePaul
Football boots, or more specifically the decoration of them, is a direction his business is heading – globally.
“I wouldn’t class myself as a massive football fan but my designs on the boots has really taken off”, he added.
“It’s spread by word of mouth really, and the wonders of social media of course. It started really when I airbrushed my son Mason’s boots gold and posted a picture on Instagram.
“In one hour it had a quarter of a million shares. Pretty soon I was receiving requests from professional footballers.
“I visited Gawthorpe (Burnley Football Club’s training headquarters) and met some of the Burnley players who wanted their boots painting.”
Star striker Andre Gray was particularly interested as was his strike partner, Welsh international Sam Vokes, and midfielder Dean Marney.
Paul now finds himself buying pairs and pairs of “high-end” football boots, decorating them and shipping them out around the world.
Thailand, Brazil and Argentina are popular markets, though Paul generally doesn’t discover which players he is designing for because his commissions are largely done through agents. Unless, of course, he sees them warming up on television before a match.
Paul added: “The big boot manufacturers obviously want their clients playing in the boots as they’ve designed, so the ones I do are just used in the warm-ups.
“It’s an amazing feeling though.”
Paul, who grew up in Rosehill, points to the very different surroundings of America, and the graffiti movement there, as inspiration for his work.
“I was always interested in the graffiti scene in New York City of the late 1980s where people would spray on subway trains to get their names across the city.
“Some people regard graffiti as vandalism, but I think that’s unfair. If someone has taken the time to create something then I feel it should be appreciated. All art forms should be.
“I was also fascinated by the Seventh Letter Crew from Los Angeles – they inspired a lot of what I do.
“I had been working as a graphic designer in Accrington for 12 years, but felt I wanted to do something different.
“I visited California with my friend Rob Sinclair, who is a Burnley cage-fighter, and it opened my eyes.”
Indeed, it was a photograph of an American icon that gave Paul the idea for his Sean Dyche mural.
“There is a famous campaign poster of Barack Obama striking a very proud pose. I thought something similar would be ideal for my Dyche mural.
“Dyche has become something of an icon himself in Burnley, guiding the club to another promotion, and so I wanted him with his chin up looking ahead to the future.
“I found such a photograph of him and then worked the claret and blue colours on to it. I designed it on computer and then went out and spray painted it freehand.
“I’d had my eye on that building for a while and would love to do more around Burnley.”
Looking ahead, Paul wants to teach the next generation of graffiti artists and is planning workshops in schools and social clubs.
“I get a lot of commission to decorate children’s bedrooms with superheroes and the like, so I know there is an interest in graffiti art.
“It would be great to teach the next generation.”