Recently Young Reporters had the chance to meet Arizona artist Joe Pagac. One of Pagac’s notable artworks is the Whale Mural in central Tucson. Pagac has also painted libraries, building walls, and even Instagram worthy backgrounds that you can pose with! At Kirk-Bear Canyon Library, Pagac painted a mural around the building, and changed styles. Part of it is realistic, and part is painted like how a child would.

Pagac has done paintings around the U.S., including some in D.C. Some artwork that I personally like is the trompe l’oeil, which in French means “deceive the eye.” It’s an optical illusion. Pagac likes nature often paints animals. He tries to make the animals scientifically accurate but provides his own personal touch.

Pagac said he really likes doing art, even since he was a kid. He used to have his mom write down his book ideas, and then he would add the illustrations. In school he liked to doodle on paper and his notes, math tests, etc. Pagac at first didn’t believe that he could make a living as an artist. One day his art teacher in college told him that he was good and that he could make a living as an artist. He’s taken his teacher’s words and made a living as an artist for 16 years, which has worked out really well.

Pagac says his favoirte artwork to do is making animals doing people things, especially bike riding. He said he likes to make things that make people happy. He says he likes to paint really fast—the whale mural took him nine days to paint, and it’s almost a city block long! But one with a cowboy, girl and animals riding bikes took six weeks!


 Pagac says that he wanted to be an artist because he didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day, and he likes to see what he made and is proud of it. He said with public art he likes knowing he’s making an impact on the city and making it a better place. He says, “You sleep better at night when you know your contributing to your community and not just yourself.”

He has painted thousands of paintings. When he did smaller ones he could do three to five a week. He says he usually does three big ones a month, but is always doing smaller ones on the side. He says a lot of his murals don’t exist anymore because they’ve been painted over.

Pagac says his favorite mural is one with animals on bikes, which can be seen in downtown Tucson. He said it’s the first mural he did by himself, and over 300 people raised money to help with it.

 Pagac said to all aspiring artists: “Keep drawing right now, don’t give up—a lot of people give up too early, but just keep going.”


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