This muralist has painted everywhere from Lakewood Mall to Mockingbird Station
Photography by Yuvie Styles.
The Lakewood fresco at Gaston and Abrams. Psychedelic Stairs at Mockingbird Station. A cityscape at Shops at Park Lane. Deep Ellum Fire Station 03.
Chances are you’ve seen one of the 33-year-old by Mariel Pohlman wall paintings.
Bright doodles, detailed sunsets, colorful southwestern pastoral, funky pets – there’s a certain joy to his work. She became one of the city’s most prolific muralists, painting everything from private homes to corporate offices to crosswalks.
“I’ve been living in Dallas for a while now. I got to know all these different neighborhoods and then I was able to put my mark on these public places and make it so many people could stumble upon them,” she says. “It was very cool.”
She spent her childhood on a cattle ranch in Portales, a small town on the outskirts of eastern New Mexico. His mother’s family had lived there for several generations. Pohlamn’s father, an accountant by trade, left Houston to help run his grandfather’s hardware store.
“It was a really great place to grow up and spend a lot of time in nature,” she says.
Then Walmart moved to town and the hardware store closed. Pohlman’s father resumed his career as an accountant, and the family moved to East Dallas for employment when Pohlman was 11.
She studied accounting at university. Her father had done it, and she had the spirit for it.
“I was trying to choose a college major that was convenient and that I knew I would be able to find a job. That’s really why I chose it,” she says.
She worked as an auditor and then a technology consultant for three years. But people often told her that she didn’t look like an accountant.
“At the start of my career, I didn’t really see a future that interested me very much,” she says.
So she quit.
“It was just a very personal decision. So I knew I couldn’t really wait for someone to give me permission,” she says. “I just needed to do it for myself.”
With a one-way ticket to Hong Kong and no plans, Pohlman spent the next year abroad. There have been four months in Southeast Asia. Somewhere in Vietnam, she bought a sketchbook. She had only taken one art class.
“It was really the turning point for me to have a purpose for the trip and a way to process all of my solo experiences,” she says.
By the time she made her way to Amsterdam, she had a book full of sketches. Scans of his illustrations became the basis of his new website. She was going to become an illustrator.
“I was basically just doing business cards and a website and then coming back. And I just started telling people I was starting a business,” she says. “I didn’t really have a plan. other than trusting me.”
She gave a presentation about her works at the Common Desk, where she had worked for the last part of her 9 to 5 job. The coworking space asked her to paint a mural on the side of the Fiction Coffee on Ross Avenue , property of Common Desk.
She finished the Christmas mural with “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” in 2017. People started flocking to the cafe for photos. The Dallas Morning News writes about his art. She has repainted the side of Fiction Coffee several times since.
“It was a bit difficult because every project, I was discovering things for the first time, and I had the opportunity to say yes, and then, you know, I had to come up with a plan,” she says.
There were a lot of worries the first year or two as she transitioned into art as a career. Was she going to be able to support herself? Will the projects dry up?
“When the pandemic started, I think that was one of the scariest times because I just thought everything was going to stop, and I had a lot of canceled projects,” she says.
Its client list has since grown to include Lyft, Heineken, Walmart and Frost Bank.
The challenge shifted from managing finances to being able to manage time and health. She is in contact with other local artists for collaboration and support. And she took the time to travel.
“I had been working so hard for about three and a half years that I was almost afraid to walk away,” she says.
She spent last January in Argentina, working on her Spanish. And there’s a trip planned to Colombia this summer.
“It was great to get back on the trip,” she says. “It’s really one of my main sources of inspiration.