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When British artist Mr Doodle asked us to help him install a mural in downtown Austin, we jumped at the chance. Executed properly, public art can increase foot traffic, deter crime, and generate publicity. Mr Doodle is a master at it. Through his art, he’s amassed over 6 million followers across social media. In 2020, he became one of the top earning artists in the world under 30, bypassing traditional gatekeepers through the sheer force of his online popularity. This is the story of how we helped Mr Doodle pull off his largest US mural to date, why the owner of the mural site and the Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation eagerly got on board, and why a time-lapse video of the installation already has nearly 5 million views. If you’re a commercial real estate developer, read on for a case study in how to use art strategically to get priceless returns for your property.

Mr Doodle mural Austin Texas 4.9 M views on Tiktok

This screengrab from Mr Doodle’s TikTok page shows 4.9 M views at the time of this writing.

We’re always telling clients, strategic use of the right art can provide incredible returns for your property. Here’s the proof.

A time-lapse video of a mural installation we coordinated at a parking garage in downtown Austin received nearly 5 million views on TikTok by the time of this writing.

Why do 5 million people want to look at a parking garage?

Because the artist who painted the mural, Mr Doodle, is a master of promotion. And he’s cultivated an audience of over 6 million followers across social media who love to watch him work.

Now, the average post on Mr Doodle’s TikTok account gets somewhere between 10k and 100k views. So why does the mural installation have 4.9 million?

Because what Mr Doodle’s audience loves most is to watch him draw mass-scale, freehand doodles on objects in the real world. He’s famous for drawing on everything from commercial buildings to his own home, his clothing, and all sorts of vehicles. So, when it came time to promote the premiere of his new documentary at the SXSW Film Festival, that’s just what he did. He published a time-lapse video of himself doodling a 50′ x 60′ mural on a building in downtown Austin.

The owner of that building now has more than 5 million views on his property—so far.

We pulled this off in two weeks. Imagine what you could do with more time and planning.

Who is This Guy? Mister Doodle, Master Promoter

Understanding a little of the strategy behind Mr Doodle’s success might get the wheels turning for an artist collaboration of your own.

Sam Cox, the artist known as Mr Doodle, has an obsessive need to cover everything in his continuous, stream-of-consciousness, line drawings.

That obsession has garnered him more than 6 million followers across Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook. These numbers are even more impressive when you consider that, as recently as 2015, he struggled to sell a drawing for £1, or even trade one for some food. How did his meteoric rise come about?

In this video posted to Mr Doodle’s YouTube page, he tries to sell a drawing for £1 in 2015 and sells a painting for $1M five years later.

Immersing Himself in His Art

In 2017, a video of Cox doodling on an abandoned London shop went viral. That’s when the world began to take notice of his art—and of him. Dressed head to toe in an outfit covered in his doodles, Cox blended in with the background, becoming a visual representation of his obsessive need to consume the world in doodles.

This 2017 video launched Cox’s online fame when it went viral on Facebook.

As the video spread, orders began pouring in from around the world to buy merchandise from his website. It was then Cox realized people don’t just want to see his finished artwork. They are fascinated by his process. They love that he’s obsessed with drawing doodles on everything. And they want to watch him do it. Even though he often paints on canvas, footage of Cox doodling all over buildings and other large-scale media brings him the most views online. For example, a stop-motion video he created while covering his 12-room home in doodles, has nearly 7 million views on YouTube.

“The idea that someone would cover everything that they live in with drawings is kind of interesting to almost anyone, I think,” said Cox in a 2023 podcast interview with his art gallerist Pearl Lam.

The project, called The Doodle House, garnered global media coverage and catapulted Mr Doodle into becoming one of the most sought-after artists under 30 in the world. In 2020, just five years after he struggled to sell a drawing for £1, the artist known as Mr Doodle made nearly $4.7 million in sales.

This video of Cox covering his home in doodles has 6.9M views on YouTube. “The idea that someone would cover everything that they live in with drawings is kind of interesting to almost anyone, I think,” Cox said in a 2023 interview.

When it came time to promote the world premiere of his new documentary, The Trouble with Mr Doodle, at SXSW, Cox had big ideas. With just two weeks till the premiere, he contacted the City of Austin about donating a large, exterior mural. He wanted it to be somewhere near the Stateside Theater in the heart of the SXSW Film Festival.

City government isn’t set up to move quite that fast, so they referred Cox’s team to us, Austin-based art consultants Art + Artisans (A+A). When A+A CEO Jennifer Seay heard Cox’s idea, she knew this was a great opportunity for Austin. She headed downtown to find the perfect spot for the mural.

“I drove around, and that wall at 515 Congress was the only wall that made sense for this kind of project. Right there at 6th and Congress,” said Seay.

515 Congress is a 26-story, class A office property facing Congress Avenue on the southeast corner of 6th Street and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. The building’s parking garage, a 9-level, brown brick structure adjacent to the main building and facing East 6th Street, is the spot Seay selected for Mr Doodle to install his biggest US mural to date. It’s just two blocks from the Stateside Theater, and steps away from the historic Driskill Hotel.

How We Pulled Off a Mural in Two Weeks

Seay reached out to her professional network to find the owner of the building. Thanks to Tim Donahue, a senior vice president at CBRE, she was quickly connected with KBS in California.

“Just trying to negotiate the contracts between California where KBS is and London where Cox is, we didn’t get it signed until Tuesday, and he was supposed to prime on Wednesday. Everything was a real nailbiter,” Seay said.

Getting Everyone On Board

Seay pitched KBS on what a great marketing opportunity this would be for them and for downtown Austin. “I explained that one of Mr Doodle’s paintings sold for $1M,” Seay said. “A mural by an international artist like this can help establish downtown Austin as an art destination.”

Urban planners and economic developers know investing in public art leads to economic growth. A recent example of this is Miami’s Design District. What was an abandoned warehouse district fifteen years ago has been transformed into one of the world’s most popular luxury retail hubs. Developers say outdoor sculptures and murals located throughout the 30 acres of retail space are a key reason there’s been a 47% increase in foot traffic over the last four years.

KBS was interested. Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation was excited about the project, too. Both parties agreed to cover the cost of the installation team and equipment.

“Mr. Doodle’s international recognition as a muralist will not only draw locals and tourists alike to experience art—and all our downtown has to offer—but it will also raise Austin’s reputation as a creative destination and cultural hub that prioritizes free, public art,” De Peart, president and CEO of the Downtown Austin Alliance, said.

The Installation

Given the short lead time, we didn’t have permission to block the street. The lift had to be parked in the alleyway, which was an awkward angle from which to paint. For two days, Mr Doodle and his team worked to find the right placement, trying one lift and then another. Periodically, the lifts would break down, too.

“Originally we were going to paint the whole wall white first, but we were having so much trouble with the lifts. I asked how he felt about painting straight on the wall. They had been thinking the same thing,” Seay said.

The installation began at 9:00 PM on March 9, 2024—two days before the film premiere. It took Mr Doodle 12 hours to complete.

“Everyone was so inspired by what was happening. The guy with the lift company who lived 45 minutes away drove out twice that night to help us when we were having issues getting the lifts properly positioned to finish the mural,” Seay said.

Mural Supply Co. of Austin provided a crew of people to help with crowd control, directing traffic, and creating a larger presence, as Mr Doodle worked throughout the night.

Mr Doodle drew a 50′ x 60′ freehand, continuous doodle in black, acrylic spray paint with pops of orange that match his hair. The mural includes the title of the documentary, The Trouble with Mr Doodle, caricatures of the film crew, Mr Doodle, and many other characters from his life.

“This is the kind of thing that I dream about doing,” Mr Doodle said in a video he posted on social media. “Giant walls like this, I don’t get to do often. It’s just so cool to see it come to life. I’ve really put my heart into this one. I really hope people love it.”


We hope learning about some of the strategies behind Mr Doodle’s success gets the wheels turning for an artist collaboration of your own. Let Art + Artisans help you find the right art and artists for your space, timeline, budget, and specified surfaces. Contact us to put our skills to work for your next commercial project.

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