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Meet Muralist Ty Christian, Who Created Artwork Around Keith Urban’s ‘Horses’

“It's a patience game with artwork. Halfway through every face I do I'm like, ‘Oh gosh, this is not looking good.’ Keeping your head down until it does is key.”

Meet Muralist Ty Christian, Who Created Artwork Around Keith Urban’s ‘Horses’
Keith Urban; Photo credit: Mark Seliger

Ty Christian revamps plain walls, showcasing Music City’s creative culture and promoting harmony. “Street art goes hand in hand with Nashville because it’s a very creative city,” Christian says. “We have beautiful sounds from musicians coming out of every single bar you go by, or every single venue. Why not have beautiful, bright colors as well, painted on every single wall?”

Christian is a self-taught artist from Indiana. Born into a basketball-loving family, he and his brothers played hoops their whole lives. “When I was an athlete in college, it made it hard to find time to do artwork,” he shares. “I decided after a year of college basketball to drop out so I could dive into art completely.” Christian’s uncle, Tommy Sims, a noted musician, songwriter, producer, and bandleader, lives in Music City. For that reason, Nashville has always felt like a second home to Christian, and he relocated here around ten years ago.

Christian wants his art to speak a strong message, as demonstrated by his vibrant, thought-provoking Harmony series. He centered his theme around the ideas of bridging divides and cancelling out noise during a time of heightened debate in an always-on society. “There was just a lot of verbal warfare going on, on social media,” he says. “I would watch everyone arguing that their opinion was right. I just wanted to create something that didn’t have to say a word.” The first mural in the collection can be viewed on the back of Vui’s Kitchen in Germantown. Christian has produced 15 to 20 additional designs for a gallery series.

Pieces like Harmony require lots of pre-planning. Before Christian creates the actual mural, he designs the image first on his iPad and makes revisions. “Then I go project it on the wall, sketch it, and just sit there until it looks good,” he explains. “It’s a patience game with artwork. Halfway through every face I do I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, this is not looking good.’ Keeping your head down until it does is key.”

Ty Christian's 'Horses' artwork; Photo courtesy of Ty Christian

Ty Christian’s ‘Horses’ artwork; Photo courtesy of Ty Christian

Christian was chosen to participate in a fan appreciation event for Keith Urban. In advance of a large party, artists were asked to design murals inspired by song lyrics on Urban’s Graffiti U album, which celebrates the spontaneity of the creative process. Christian says he identified with the song, “Horses,” which took him back to his Indiana roots. “I was always around horses,” he says. “And it’s a song about just being young, wild, and free and just embracing that lifestyle.” When the artists arrived at Houston Station, where the event was held, they had several walls of differing materials to choose from. Christian chose a wood picket fence. He worked predominantly with spray paint, painting for 24 straight hours.

Although it’s not his current artistic focus, Christian has a musical background, as well, with a passion for hip hop. “I still do music, more socially and kind of therapeutically,” he says. “But artwork is definitely the direction I am moving towards for a career.” As his work evolves, Christian says he hopes to infuse a philanthropic element to his pieces that helps tie people together. “I want to visit people of all races and all cultures and see where they come from,” he says. “My goal with art is to travel, see these places, come back, make artwork . . . and basically hold fundraisers to make money to bring back to these same communities and help them.”

Christian’s studio is located on Taylor Street in Germantown, and his work sometimes appears at the Germantown Art Crawl. He’s now undergoing the planning process for a fundraiser inspired by his first mission trip. Proceeds from the sales will benefit disadvantaged Honduran communities.

See more of Christian’s artwork by visiting tychristianartwork.com.