“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” 

~Friedrich Nietzsche

What IS it about being grateful that’s so vital?

Here at Beautify Earth, we have a pretty big mission. Simply put, we envision a world where artists and communities are able to heal and uplift the world through inspiring, powerful murals in neglected communities worldwide. Some may even say we’re crazy, that our mission and vision is impossible. And the truth is, we really don’t care what “some” may think: if anything, it fuels our focus and passion to co-create with those who also see it.

So what does this have to do with gratitude?

What we’re trying to do is no easy task. We could focus on all the obstacles in our way, but quite honestly, that would get us nowhere. Instead, we focus on what we feel grateful for each day, and that is truly what keeps us going, and what allows MORE good things coming our way.

We celebrate ALL wins, big and small. We have an amazing board that is incredibly passionate and hard working. We have an incredible community that supports us 💯. We see this global movement grow exponentially, and we get to support ALL artists and activators who share our vision. We get to create art that communities not only feel proud of– murals also help neglected communities increase existing business revenue, attract new businesses, and improve the likelihood of investment in their communities.  

In short, gratitude is a choice, and we are firm believers that it can be an amplifier for global good.

With this vision of community empowerment in mind, Beautify Earth co-founder Ruben Rojas had a vision that a friendly reminder of GRATITUDE was in order. A year-long project in the making, Ruben drove the GRATITUDE mural project and collaborated with the artist Cloe Hakakian, The Do Good Bus and The City of Santa Monica to paint a this powerful message at Marco Polo Imports in Santa Monica.

Check out the interview with Ruben and Cloe below, and click here to be a part of our mission!

Q & A with Artists Ruben Rojas & Cloe Hakakian: The Gratitude Mural

Beautify Earth murals are an opportunity for artists to share their messages and vision to impact communities through their art. The message of this mural is GRATITUDE. Why was this important to you?

Ruben Rojas: There are times when I wake up and dread going on with my day, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Countless things run through my mind, which can be and are distracting. We are human, after all, and are masters at creating reasons and justifications for everything. Amongst the chaos I notice that when I begin with gratitude and reflect on what I have, where I live, the opportunities around me everything else is just stuff in the way. Gratitude makes life a little easier and more pleasant. 

Cloe Hakakian: The message of this mural resonates with me on so many levels- and it’s poetic for me in a way because one of the main things in my life that I’m grateful for is the ability to do what I love full time: create art. I’m grateful for the challenges and opportunities I’ve been given that have led me to this point in my life. I’m grateful for the physical health I have that allows me to do this work. I’m grateful for my family and friends who have supported me through it all.

Can you talk briefly about your collaboration and how it came about. What did you like most about collaborating with each other and how do you feel it affected the end result?

RR: I met Cloe a couple years back when I matched her with two Beautify Earth projects I was curating. We have a similar backstory in the fact that we both left full time careers to pursue our passion. This particular project came about because Cloe and I were commissioned by another organization to paint a mural. They asked us if we were open to collaborating on the project, and we accepted. We were asked to create a couple of unique and different designs, with the GRATITUDE concept being one of them. We absolutely loved how we brought this one to life and wanted to paint it. Luckily, (seeing it from the lens of gratitude 😉) it was not selected for that project. We were a little bummed since this was our first choice, although we did match another design, and will be painting again together toward the end of the year. We really fell in love with what we created here, and I told Cloe, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll match this to something… we’ll paint it!” Soon enough, the perfect win/win opportunity came about, and GRATITUDE now lives on 13th St. and Santa Monica Blvd.

Cloe added an element to the design that brought it full circle. Flowers are typically used to express gratitude, amongst other notions. She added nature’s express of gratitude to complement my typographical express.

Cloe was fun and easy to work with, and I look forward to our next collaboration.

CH: I’ve known Ruben for a couple years now. I actually met him during a big turning point in my life when I was transitioning from having art as a hobby to art as a full time career. I loved what he was doing with Beautify Earth and I was thrilled when he asked me to participate in the mission and paint a few murals for them.

It was great being able to finally collaborate on a project together with this Gratitude piece. This was actually my first time collaborating on a mural with another artist. Being an introvert myself, I never really entertained the idea of mural collaboration. Will our styles match? Will we creatively step on each other’s toes? How will it turn out? Well, it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I ended up learning so much about Ruben, and also myself. Bouncing ideas off of each other and watching the project evolve from a simple word into this massive beautiful piece through the blending of our unique styles and visions was both exciting and inspiring. I’m excited to see what we can create together next.

The mural is huge! What was the process of actually making it happen, and who all was involved?  

RR: This was a large project with a slim budget. The partnership with The Do Good Bus allowed us to create a community event and fund the hard costs of this mural. The volunteers had a firsthand experience in creating actual change, experience the physical demands of painting a mural, and frankly—I love people and love being a catalyst to inspire them to be in service.

Handing an adult a paintbrush brings their inner child out, and I love seeing that all over their faces.

CH: Yes, the wall was definitely massive! It should also be noted that it was all hand-painted with paint brushes and rollers. We were fortunate to have a bus full of excited volunteers from The Do Good Bus to lay down the groundwork for us on the first day. They not only helped us fill in large portions of the mural, but they also got me even more excited than I already was about the final piece. It was humbling to see the community coming together on their own free time to help us bring our vision to life. Without their help, the project easily would have taken the two of us twice as long. Once the background and block portions were filled in, Ruben and I were able to go in and add the details that made the piece come to life.

An article in The Guardian touted gratitude as one of the most important human emotions, claiming, “It’s moral, feels great and keeps you healthy. But being grateful isn’t just good for you – it might hold the key to a more peaceful world.” What are your thoughts on this?

RR: Love and gratitude are everything. When we begin our day with gratitude, we can ground ourselves in abundance in what we have and control. It’s important to remind ourselves of this daily, especially in a world that’s constantly telling us that we aren’t enough and don’t have enough. The truth is, we have everything we need—if only we could take a moment to realize it.

CH: I agree. Gratitude is the first step to happiness. If the greater population acknowledged what they have instead of focusing on what they don’t have, the world would be a much happier place in general.

THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS & SPONSORS

So many volunteers and supporters made this mural come together – thank you to the 35 volunteers who helped us paint, as well as Cava, GT Kombucha, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and DK Donuts for providing delicious fuel and treats to our artists and volunteers. Big thanks to Marco Polo Imports for supporting us in moving our mission forward. And special thanks to actress Brytni Sarpy for her support and to Tyler Church Haggstrom for capturing the movement and energy of this mural coming to life through video.

We could not have done this without the generous support of The Do Good Bus and The City of Santa Monica, which allowed us to get all the supplies needed. It truly takes a village!


Join us in our Mission to Cure Sad Walls!

Our mission is to reclaim the urban landscape. You can follow Ruben and Cloe’s lead by having a vision, and coming together with the Beautify Earth community to make it happen!

FOUR WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT:

1)  DONATE Whether a one-time or recurring donation, ANY gift can make ALL the difference.

2)  BECOME A MEMBER  $10 a month = community impact all around!

3)  ADOPT A WALL  Sponsor a wall and help a community that could use some love

4)  SPREAD THE LOVE  Share this post and spread the message about community + art + love. Gratitude.