Building a New Life: One Mural at a Time

An illustration of Amanda Turner, who is wearing a purple dress. She is painting the word "Wanderlust" in front of a waterfall mural that appears to be pouring out from the wall. The scene is in a pink room with paint cans and rollers on the floor.
Illustration of Amanda Turner sleeping on a floor mattress (top). Illustration of Amanda Turner brainstorming within her room with notebooks and pens on the floor as an image of an animal illuminates out of her lamp (bottom left. Illustration of Amanda Turner painting furniture and walls within her room (bottom right).
Gif of Amanda Turner swiping her paint brush and the image transitions Amanda travelling against a mountain backdrop.
Gifs of Amanda Turner in a pink dress (center), a travelling scene of her meeting a fellow traveller (top left), the words "Hola Ajijic" (top right) against lush greenery and floral designs as the backdrop.

Infographic transcript:

In 2014, Amanda Turner spent a month sleeping in a Florida gymnasium. It was her fifth try at alcohol rehab—in six months. She was on the verge of homelessness. The day Amanda finished her program, she picked up a paintbrush and spent 24 hours straight creating this mural on her bedroom wall. "It was the first thing I did that I completed and really enjoyed," she says. Amanda began painting walls and furniture for friends. Soon store owners hired her to paint murals for their shops. Within a year, Amanda launched her own business called Ugly Illustration. Amanda got bit by the travel bug. She backpacked through Costa Rica and Guatemala, offering to paint murals in exchange for accommodation. In Ajijic, Mexico, she painted a mural for a spa for free to get introduced to the community. The mural was a giant postcard with the phrase Hola Ajijic. The spa's owner threw a block party that drew around 100 people. Amanda plans to stay a while and launch a co-working space that sells local art: El Gato Feo Cafe. "Painting has opened the door to some really great opportunities, and I'm so grateful," she says.

Reporting by Renee Morad
Images by Rebekka Dunlap