This Traveling Duo Is Bringing Large Letter Murals to a Neighborhood Near You
Meet the Greetings Tour, a project creating the perfect photo op for your next road trip with vintage postcard-inspired murals.
Earlier this year, when I noticed a large mural going up in Knoxville, Tenn., where I live, I knew it’d soon become one of the most photographed walls in the city. Located on the side of a local business’s building, the mural reads "Greetings from Knoxville," featuring iconic spots from the area, like the 1982 World’s Fair Sunsphere, the Tennessee Theatre sign and the nearby Smoky Mountains, framed inside the letters that make up "Knoxville." It’s a mural that shows visitors, whether in person or via social media, what they’ll find here.
All kinds of murals across the country have become must-visit spots for travelers. If a friend travels to Nashville, chances are you’ll see a snapshot of them in front of the “I Believe in Nashville” mural in your Instagram feed. And did you really go to Austin, Texas, if you didn’t take a photo in front of the “Greetings from Austin” mural?
The people behind the “Greetings from Knoxville” mural, photographer Lisa Beggs and artist Victor Ving, left New York City in 2015 to travel the country in an RV and combine their talents to form the Greetings Tour. With the Greetings Tour, they help capture snippets of places in murals, inspired by the “Large Letter” postcards from the 1930s - 1950s. When creating a mural in a new city, Beggs takes photographs of nearby landmarks, national parks and iconic sites that Ving then uses as inspiration for painting the mural. So far, they’ve painted 23 murals across 13 states and hope to create murals in all 50 states eventually.
We caught up with the Ving and Beggs to learn a bit more about their cross-country mural project and what life is like on the road.
What is the Greetings Tour?
We are an artist duo (painter and photographer) traveling the USA full time in an RV, painting large letter postcard murals in select cities.
What sparked you to start the Greetings Tour?
Honestly, we wanted to travel and make a lifestyle out of it. We had painted the Greetings from Chinatown (Manhattan, NY) mural in 2014 and saw the positive impact it had on the community, and that set off ideas for this project. Combining our talents, we took the leap and left NYC in exchange for the rest of the country. Our murals reach a wide range of different audiences, and now people are traveling city-to-city just to get photos in front of them! We want to paint a mural in every state in the U.S.
When did you start the project, and when do you expect to complete it?
We left NYC April 2015 with a plan to stay on the road for just one year. We are now entering year three of the tour, and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
How are you documenting the trip?
Lisa studied commercial photography at Ohio University and did studio work in NYC. She's been able to build a landscape portfolio from all the national parks we've visited on top of documenting the process of our murals. We plan to make a photo book one day.
Another way we document our travels is using a journal gifted to us that tracks odometer readings, destinations, places we stayed, etc. It keeps us up-to-date with our oil changes.
What kind of response have you received on the Greetings Tour?
Surprisingly mixed. A lot of people don't like change. However, our timing couldn't be better because murals are more accepted throughout U.S. cities today, and social media helps spread interest in our murals.
What’s one of your favorite memories or experiences you’ve had on the road?
We really love getting to know people in the cities that we paint. When we leave for our next destination, the murals take on a life of their own. One time we revisited the Chicago mural and there was a line to get a selfie in front of it! Between murals, we love to visit places we've never been. People often ask what our favorite spots are, which is nearly impossible to answer, but the Oregon Coast, Utah and Glacier National Park are up there.
What’s your favorite road trip snack?
Rule #1 on the Greetings Tour: No fast food! We like to stay healthy on the road by cooking nice meals for ourselves. Trader Joe's is key. It feels like we’ve been to every location there is in the country. Their pineapple juice is always in our fridge.
What’s your favorite mural you’ve done and why?
Victor's favorite mural is Seattle. Specifically, for the humorous content and for the fact that it was our first mural out West. Lisa’s favorite is Coney Island.