“I was a contract, commercial, interior designer in my former life,” he says, noting that for about 20 years his job revolved around office interiors and furnishings. “I was divorced and living in an apartment in Memphis. One day I was sitting in that apartment and I said ‘that wall needs something.’ So I did the whole wall as a mural of ‘Calvin and Hobbes,'” Cooper says.
The next day his future wife, Mickie, and future stepchildren stopped by his apartment and he says she immediately “knew” what Cooper’s future should be. He moved to Nashville and stayed in interior design for a while, but Mickie convinced him to follow his muse.
“With her encouragement, I changed careers,” he says. “She does everything except paint. She’s the brains behind this outfit,” he says, laughing. “Her mantra to me is: ‘Go out and paint.’”
His first career helped him make contacts. “I knew most of the architects and designers around [Nashville], so I put out the word and I started doing the work. Now I’m painting entire sides of buildings. We’ve done this stuff from coast to coast.”
One of his “regular” contracts is the ever-changing Vanderbilt coaches mural on West End, by the way.
“I think as far as the arts in general, there is a very creative atmosphere here. Very laid-back, with a lot of areas having a rural feel to it,” Cooper says.