Over the past year, locals started to notice colorful expression in various iconic areas around Belmar. Murals bring glimpses of light on rainy days to some and inspire the tasteful imagination of others. Creativity in our community will influence vast possibilities for generations to expand their minds and help identify with the community culture. In this article, we feature Laurie Tobia, an artist who is leaving her (paw) print all over town and is using her art to develop her individual brand.

Laurie, who graduated from the University of Delaware, found her niche in designing murals during her final semester when assigned to a public art project. Rather than waiting for an opportunity to find her, she created her own. She contacted The Belmar Arts Council and was quickly put in touch with its founder, Pat Hutchinson, who assigned her the task of creating a mural on the Belmar Train Station.

When asked why she chose the Belmar Arts Council, she explained, “I have roots in Belmar, it just felt right starting there.” So she began her first mural at the Belmar Train Station, decorating both the North and South Bound lines. Her passion inspired community paint day bringing together townspeople and train station travelers to collaborate on a unique design.

Laurie is not afraid to “ask.” She has been busy over the past year identifying various opportunities to paint murals and creating her own schedule. Being proactive has kept Laurie out of the slump that many artists can fall into. Her advice to other artists is,“It is important to continue to create, surround yourself with people and places that inspire your creative self.”

How to Increase Opportunity

  • Word of mouth. Referrals are a powerful tool. People like to brag about good service

  • Be present. Get out there, people will notice you working; your concentration will attract others.

  • Network. Chat with friends and shoot ideas past them. An opportunity that you see as impossible may be deemed achievable by others.

  • Social Media. Publish finished works; publish works in progress. Let the world know you’re passionate about working your craft.

To Laurie, an empty wall is an opportunity.  Her consistent progress and determination, which is noticed around town and by her following on social media makes her a first choice when local companies are looking to spice up their brand’s personality.

Lessons Learned

We asked Laurie to tell us about some experiences and obstacles she faced while painting in the area:

Belmar Train Station, Belmar NJ :  “I learned a lot of the pros and cons of working on a mural that large. I painted this in the summertime, so I worked during dawn and dusk to avoid the scorching heat.  Foot traffic around the station was constantly pushing my nerves while high up on a ladder. Priming, painting, repainting, and then painting again were the steps taken to finish this mural.”

Coffee Surf, Belmar NJ: “Barry, the owner, is a friend who really supports and encourages my creative ability. What began as a simple mountain line grew into a whole scene featuring snow covered trees and a never before seen cyclops-esque snowboarder. Thanks, Barry.”

Coney Waffle, Belmar NJ & Ocean Grove NJ: “I stepped in mid-project to this mural, which was a challenge in itself. The staff was awesome to work with and had an idea of what they were looking for which made my job easier. I discovered how much I enjoy painting ice-cream! When Coney Waffle opened their second location I was given total creative control. Both locations have an oceanfront view, which made my experience even more enjoyable.”

Belmar Elementary School, Belmar NJ: “This opportunity spawned from a simple email I sent to the art director of the school. I imagined myself at grade school age and thought that it would be cool to see a fresh mural painted on the school. Belmar Elementary held a design contest for 7th graders and featured that winning design as the mural. After up-scaling the winner’s design on the side of the building, the eighth grade class assisted painting designated sections. I was happy to expose them to the way art can be active in the community.”

Mindful Café, Asbury Park NJ & Belmar NJ: “The owners of the traveling coffee stands are good friends of mine. One day after running into one of them in a restaurant they mentioned the idea of having their bike-coffee-carts become traveling art exhibits. Shortly after I obtained their cart and began painting. They liked the décor of their first cart so much, they hired me to paint their other cart. This was really cool to create on something other than a wall.”

These five examples are only a handful of the gorgeous murals Laurie has completed and she’s not done yet. Laurie is continuing to grow as an artist. She has recently designed personal business cards and created a personal website, LaurieTobia.com. She revealed that creating the website gave her another platform to express her creative energy while increasing her knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator.

Social Networking

We asked Laurie to tell us about how she uses social media to promote her artwork and brand:

Instagram: “I try to use Instagram as a blog. I use the story feature often to show posts-in-progress as well as finished pieces.” (@LaurieTobia)

Snapchat: “I use Snapchat personally with friends. A lot of time is spent sharing the environments in which I am working in. I try to encourage others and share the beauties I surround myself with.”

Facebook: “I use Facebook strictly for networking. This was the first place I posted a link to my new website.”

Creating a personal brand does not happen overnight. People like Laurie who put their energy towards achieving what they want will succeed in creating their identity. To identify Laurie’s art around town just look for her logo: a paw print. “I never really connected with the idea of signing my name on something that I painted,” she explained. After she messed around with a few style paw prints, she designed one that looks like a flower and calls it a “Blooming Paw Print” and can be found seen below. Be on the lookout wherever you are for more art, you never know where it will show up. We are following and looking forward to see what this artist’s creative mind brings to the community next.