A bold mural can make your pub stand out from the crowd - here's how to make it happen.
In a market where traders from coffee shops to supermarkets can be considered competition, standing out from the crowd has never been more important. And one of the most impactful ways of doing this visually is to get artistic with your outside space.
Whether it is part of a wider city arts scene, as in Bristol, or a moving tribute, like the memorial artwork outside Glasgow's Clutha Bar, which was destroyed in a tragic helicopter accident, murals can stir a variety of responses.
They have been a part of culture for tens of thousands of years, and murals are today a firm favourite among many publicans.
The Gunners in London's Finsbury Park is a shrine to Arsenal football club, and its mural of club legends Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp stands as a memorial to the side's glory years at the start of this century.
Brighton, meanwhile, has several stunning pub murals – including the tribute to musical icons at the Prince Albert, which was also where Banksy's "Kissing Coppers" originally appeared.
Getting media attention of either the traditional or social kind is one reason to consider livening up your garden with a mural. Nick Livingstone of Star Pubs & Bars' 7 Saints in Prestwick spent £9,000 transforming a concrete jungle into a Tiki-inspired garden complete with mural.
He says: "The main feedback from customers has been through their behaviour. They show their appreciation of the mural by using it as a backdrop on their social posts, which is great as it promotes the 7 Saints bar and garden to a wider audience."
And murals can work for whatever kind of venue you are. Take the Fox & Hounds in Putney. The Stonegate pub is a fairly traditional sports bar with an outside space that has been transformed by a mural that gives the feel of being in a stadium.
General manager Colin Woods says: "I wanted it to look like the TV screen was the scoreboard in the stadium. At first when the artist was doing it I wasn't sure if it was going to work but he was layering and it all came together."
Meanwhile, the outside space at BrewDog Brighton has been brought to life by a mural referencing beer and pop culture. It was created by a couple of graffiti artists (Sifer +Jate), one of whom works at the bar.
General manager Maria Barney says the work has created quite an impact. She advises: "Make sure you agree in advance what the mural is going to look like, or what the theme will be at the very least. It's easy to let creative people have free rein but you need to make sure that what ends up on your business accurately portrays what you want or need. Use someone you know you can trust."
Not everyone will have budding artists on their bar team, which means you may need to find local talent.
Catherine Lovegrove, who has created numerous designs for hospitality businesses, says:"Often pubs and restaurants like to have an unusual twist on a local theme or a design that reflects the owner's interests.
If someone says they don't have any idea what they want for their mural, it is always possible to find a theme. Often they discover that they have very good ideas towards the end of the conversation."
Other factors you need to consider before commissioning an artist are price – a small work can cost £750, she says – and the condition of the area you want painted. Catherine adds: "They last as well as the surface that is prepared for them. Acrylic paint is very colourfast and very durable and one of the key things is a good varnish."
Working with your local authority is also a sensible idea. They have powers – especially in Conservation Areas – to ask you to remove anything unbecoming, so it's best to keep them happy from the outset.
This was an issue at The Antelope in Warwick. The pub is linked with the Royal Warwickshire regiment (the pub was even renamed after the regiment's mascot) and displays military memorabilia at the pub.
Around six years ago the pub worked with local artist Chris Wildsmore to create a design paying tribute to the servicemen.
Tim Riches, licensee at the Admiral Taverns pub, says "The council thought the original design was an 18 and they wanted a PG. They didn't think it was appropriate, so we went back to the drawing board and came up with something everyone is happy with." The striking design can be seen for miles around and is often featured in local press stories, especially those involving the regiment.
And you never know, your investment could pay off in the long term. Art by Banksy has been known to lift property prices and "Kissing Coppers" sold at auction for £375,000. You just need to find the next Banksy. Or the current one.
HOW TO BEAUTIFY YOUR OUTSIDE SPACE
So the pub and the artist's expectations are both met
Look at an artist's back catalogue before commissioning
See some sketches
Get the artist to provide sketches of their plan before they start work
Keep in touch
You may need the artist to return to touch up the work
You want a design that will last rather than date quickly so keep this in mind at the planning stage
Remember that time equals money
The more detail you want, the longer it will take and the higher the price will be
Consider a mural-to-go
If the mural is for a site that is under construction, a technique called marouflage can be employed - the mural is painted on primed canvas in the studio and installed on site, glued to the wall.
Tips provided by Catherine Lovegrove