Written by: Frank Iacono
Some artists take pride in how long they spend to painstakingly create a work of art. But the way painter Ed Peahota sees it, time is money. Peahota, a pictorial billboard artist with a career that has spanned 30 years, can actually paint a wall-sized mural of a tiger in less than four minutes. He can also paint the Statue of Liberty but that takes a little longer – maybe about five minutes.
Peahota developed a knack for fast brushwork and has parlayed it into a performance sideline. As an Art Director Edward Peahota’s art designs have been featured all over the world. From huge banners at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the “Dave Zinkof” retired microphone banner, that originally hung in the Philadelphia Spectrum, to many Philadelphia Flyers banners including Bernie Parent to various Philadelphia 76ers retired numbers to the JVC Jazz Festival banners in Holland.
Edward’s company, BillboardShuttle.com, specializes in all aspects of outdoor advertising, flex vinyl installation on billboards, available space for rent, computer graphics installation, hand painted artwork on structures, large format printing, sign design layout, radio commercial voice over, old school pounce & pattern making, maintenance, repair, and speed painting shows.
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing speed painting artist Ed Peahota, and asking him a few questions about his business, his work, his music, and his overall passion and love for being an artist.
TCS: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist?
When I was a child, I was always painting something whether it was a model or lines for a street hockey rink. When I was in high school, my favorite and best class was art. I was in that class room before school started, during my lunch period, and after school. Art had a pretty good hold on me by the age of 16.
TCS: Who are among your favorite artists? And, why?
TCS: Where did you study art and what was your first job as an artist?
I went to The Art Institute of Philadelphia. My first (1982), and still current job, was as a billboard pictorial artist.
TCS: How would you describe your specific type of art style?
For 20 years, I painted realism on billboards. Now that was hard work. However, with the advent of the personal computer around the turn of the century, that type of work virtually stopped overnight. Today, my style is care-free and just for fun.
TCS: Tell us about your company BillboardShuttle.com?
BillboardShuttle.com specializes in all aspects of outdoor advertising, flex vinyl installation on billboards, available space for rent, computer graphics installation, hand painted artwork on structures, large format printing, sign design layout, radio commercial voice over, old school pounce & pattern making, maintenance, repair, and speed painting shows by artist.
TCS: What are some of the billboards you’ve painted over your career and tell us about your company BillboardShuttle.com?
I’ve hand painted on billboards everything from Frank Sinatra to Miller Beer Bottles to a lot of casino ads. BillboardShuttle.com is collection of everything I do in the world of outdoor advertising from designing layouts to making patterns for water towers to speed painting shows. The website features a pretty extensive list of everything we do as a company. For more information, please visit BillboardShuttle.com.
TCS: Tell us about the idea you had over 20 years ago to paint to music?
Well I always painted to music, I always had a boom box on the swinging stage with me while I painted billboards, In my 20’s, I played in bands and thought it would be cool to go up there on stage with the English rock band Yes and paint a billboard while the band was playing, something related to the song.
TCS: Do you prefer painting to recorded or live music?
I prefer painting to live music most definitely
TCS: Can you describe for us your technique of speed painting?
Since I am a musician I would say my technique of speed painting is to do it in time with the music.
TCS: What was your first speed painting gig and what do you remember most about it?
My first speed painting gig was in October of 2009 in Merchantville, New Jersey for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. What I remember most about it was the crowd gathering around to take photos of the painting with their cell phones. That was cool!
TCS: Can you really create wall-sized murals of a Tiger, Jaws, Michael Jackson’s Thriller album cover, and more in under four minutes? How is that possible?
Practice! Practice! Practice!
TCS: Tell us about the portrait you painted of your musical director and mentor Jozef Kocedia?
In 2008, I painted a portrait of Mr. Kocedia who served as musical director at the Shrine of Czestochowa in Doylestown PA. He would play the pipe organ, direct the children’s choir and the Royal Brass Band, and watch a TV monitor of the Mass being held behind him all at the same time. A quote he said stays with me every day, “some people meet for good, some people meet for bad, and we meet for good.” For more information about Jozef Kocedia, please visit his music link.
TCS: Tell us all about the concept behind the [artBOX] on Adventure Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey?
The concept behind the [artBOX] on Adventure Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey is to have the grown-ups come and bring their kids over to see what’s going on rather than the kids bringing their parents over to see an attraction.
TCS: How did you get involved with the [artBOX] and do you plan to be at the shore all summer?
I was asked by Jack Morey of Morey’s Piers to be part of one of the art studios. People can tour the art colony and gallery by visiting the art studios and watching the artists at work. I am honored to be joined by my wife, Hong Nguyen Peahota in the art studio too. Hong does amazing detailed painting on glass!
TCS: Tell us about how you got the gig to paint the tarp for New York Yankees Stadium?
When the Yankees were experiencing problems with printing on their tarp, as a result of the material, they contacted me to hand paint it. I hand painted the tarp in one of my studios and it was quite challenging because of the unusual demonstration being a cylinder cover. It was such a thrill when they drove me out onto the field, in one of those golf carts, to take me over to install the tarp. That night, I took a friend of mine named Frank Wilson (a fellow billboard painter for 40 yrs.) who joined me on the field. Frank and I took pictures from the pitcher’s mound. Then people on the side lines started yelling something at us so we walked over to the warning track and all the water sprinklers came on. Luckily the sprinklers just missed us! That was funny and such a great experience.
TCS: What comment or question do you hear most often from admirers of your art?
I like this question because it’s always good stuff like “awesome,” “dude you totally shocked me,” or “I had no idea what you were doing.” The audience always thinks it’s something else until I spin the canvas and then it’s a “wow factor.” I can always hear the crowd at that moment.
TCS: Tell us about your pop rock band and your original song “Here in Wildwood”?
I’ve been playing and recording music since my father gave me a tape recorder in 1968. I’ve written many songs throughout my life, most of those songs were written and recorded at the original Woodstock Festival Site in Bethel, New York. The song “Here in Wildwood” has evolved, as songs often do, over the years. I started out by adding a chorus to the song and then it simply evolved into what it is now. I feel that all of my songs will continue to evolve and change throughout the years as I play them I am always thinking of something new to add. Like a painting, songs are never finished.
TCS: With whom in history do you feel you most identify with?
Well I can only say that I read books on Benjamin Franklin because he was so creative and I like to try to find out what made him tick. Incidentally, I have a bust of him in our home. However, I really don’t see myself as identifying with anyone but myself.
TCS: What is your favorite Color, Animal, Season, Movie and Book?
- Color is Blue
- Animal is a Dog
- Season is Spring
- Movie is “The Quiet Man” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara
- Book is “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen
TCS: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be? And, why?
There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be than Wildwood, New Jersey right now. It’s an exciting time in our lives, but when the season is over I like to see the Coliseum in Rome, Italy.
TCS: What would you say is your greatest career achievement?
Over my career there have been many. Recently, I drew the lettering on the roof of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. It was the largest layout I ever worked on. It can be seen from outer space and from Google Earth 10 miles up. Inside the Wells Fargo Center, I‘ve designed a lot of Philadelphia Sixers and Philadelphia Flyers banners from the 1980’s. But, the [artBOX] is giving me the opportunity to do it all. I will be selling prints of my best work as well as some of my regular sized paintings too. All of the artists appearing at the [artBOX] are planning to have lots of fun. And, of course I will be performing speed painting shows with different bands performing throughout the summer. As an artist, what more could I ask for!
TCS: Do you have any helpful tips or inspiring words for kids wanting to become artists?
Believe in yourself, never give up, and visualize your success. Personally, I can’t sit still but an artist early on must realize that you need to exercise patience. Understand that everything is in God’s good time ─ whether you believe it is or it isn’t you are correct.
About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.