Hakim Callwood wants to paint a mural in your state

In the first episode of ‘Tour de Mural,’ the artist visits his childhood home of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with stops in Cleveland, Ohio and Fort Wayne, Indiana

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Hakim Callwood working on a mural in the U.S. Virgin Islands

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, it had minimal impact on Hakim Callwood’s output, which remained steady as he did everything from designing and printing a T-shirt worn by comedian Dave Chappelle to creating custom cleats for the Columbus Crew and being part of the Create Columbus Commission.  

“I pretty much stayed in the same lane,” Callwood said. “The murals, comics, this stuff is already a work-at-home type of job.”

Additionally, in May 2020 the artist created a virtual tour of Columbus murals, recording and releasing a video designed to allow those house-bound by COVID-19 the opportunity to digitally traverse the city, visiting a variety of murals via Google Earth. 

Now, with vaccinations increasing and the potential end of the pandemic approaching, Callwood has launched an ambitious new project inspired by his earlier virtual tour. Dubbed “Tour de Mural,” the series sees the artist taking his skillset on the road, aiming to collaborate on an in-person mural in as many U.S. states as he can visit.

“It just naturally happened, because the first [video series] was about getting out when you’re stuck inside, and this other one started as things opened back up,” Callwood said by phone from Los Angeles in late March, where he was in the early stages of designing and painting a California mural. “I wanted to flip the concept and go to new places and meet new people, all of that good stuff.”

In the first video, released on March 15, Callwood collaborates on murals in Cleveland, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a trip during which he also visited his childhood home and reconnected with family — his first trek to the island since the 2012 death of his father.

“There were a lot of things to unpack there, and it was super special to be able to travel back after all this time,” said Callwood, who traced his laid-back demeanor in part to the years he spent living in St. Croix, where life has a more naturally relaxed cadence. “Being able to connect with family I hadn’t seen in so long had a bigger impact than I expected. … It also woke something else up in me, like, we came up with this idea [for the mural tour] and we’re doing it right now, and we're overseas. It was almost self-inspirational, a reminder I can do this thing.”

And he plans to continue doing it, too. After Callwood returns from California, he has an upcoming visit scheduled to Detroit, Michigan, as well as the first southern swing with a trip to Mississippi. After that, Callwood said he’ll likely take some time to recharge in Columbus, saving money in anticipation of a second and hopefully third leg of the tour, which he can envision continuing through the remainder of 2021, dependent on some combination of finances (while there are some sponsors involved in “Tour de Mural,” the artist is largely self-funding his travels) and the ability to complete regularly scheduled work.

“Whenever I touch down in Columbus I need to hurry up and get some work done to make as much money as I can,” said Callwood, who is currently working on a pitch to have his Spaceboy character made into a cartoon, among other ventures. “But I’d rather do this [mural tour] than have the money. This is some of the happiest I’ve ever felt. … I’m learning a lot about these places and about myself, and it’s all happening naturally.”