Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Mural, Mural on the Wall Brings Animations to Life for Your Children

We speak to cartoonist/animator Shannie Van Buren about the fantasy worlds she creates through her art

By: Daniel Koren

Published: April 23rd, 2014 in Culture » Art » News

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m nearing 30 years old, or if everyone around me is simply maturing at faster rates – likely, it’s the latter – but from what I can decipher, it’s currently baby boom season.

It seems all the pictures that surround my Facebook and Instagram feeds either involve newly born babies, 6-month year old’s learning to crawl, one-year-old’s taking their first steps, first words, first haircuts, first Passover, and eventually, first hockey games, first day of school, the list of ‘firsts’ goes on and on.

Accompanying these photos are captions, depicting the sheer joyful expressions of the parents, looking to provide everything they can for their children. A friend of mine in particular, who’s son just turned five, was complaining about how young Eden’s room was boring, the colour scheme stale, the imagination lackluster.

That’s when I realized to connect her to one Shannie Van Buren, the founder, owner and chief animator/cartoonist at Mural, Mural on the Wall.

Studying fashion at Ryerson University, Van Buren was always a fan of cartoons, especially humorous ones, and silly, funny characters like Spy vs. Spy. After working through a stint of corporate jobs – including Burberry and Hugo Boss – Van Buren decided that the lifestyle was not for her, and that’d she rather be doing something she was passionate about.

“I’ve always been an illustrator,” she tells me over David’s Tea. “My first caricature was of Whoopi Goldberg when I was around 8 years old. My mother saw it and exclaimed ‘maxim, eze maxim!'”

Mural Mural on the Wall was born when Van Buren did a painting for her nephew, Liam. Wanting to do something inspirational and imaginative, she asked what he wanted for his birthday, and his response was to paint something for him on his wall. While she did, him and his friends watched in awe as she painted a smiling, one-eyed pirate, accompanied by a parrot with a baffled expression and a skull and cross flag.


Pirate Mural. Photo Credit: Mural Mural on the Wall

“That’s how it all began,” Van Buren recalls, “Many of my friends were having kids, and it was an amazing way to paint a story in a room as opposed to what you could do with a book, for example. What I loved the most about it was that it was humorous and silly, it allowed me to create a room for kids that they could actually enjoy, an atmosphere where they could feel inspired every day. I always envisioned when I was growing up that life was a Disney movie, and with the murals, I can do that for them: create a fantasy world, in their room.”

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