Artist Baffled After Man Pays For Bizarre Mural On Building He Doesn't Own

I was never cut out to be an artist but one thing I've heard from people in that trade is they'll eventually wind up taking some pretty weird gigs.

There are so many people out there who want bring a particular vision to life and if they can't do it themselves, they'll hire someone who can. Although artists can sometimes find good money in taking commissions that cater to specific niches, that can sometimes come at the cost of drawing things they wouldn't even want to imagine.

And as we'll learn from one strange story out of Illinois, even G-rated material can sometimes land them in complicated situations.

Two weeks ago, 34-year-old artist Joshua Hawkins of Peoria, Illinois was contacted by a man with an interesting proposition who he had previously met at an art exhibit.

As Hawkins told The Peoria Journal-Star, the man identified himself as "Nate" and asked him to paint a mural on a commercial building he claimed to own in the city's North Valley district.

In a Facebook post, Hawkins described it as one of the best-paying commissions he'd ever had.

The pay was so good that Hawkins was able to hire a couple of assistants for the job.

Furthermore, The Peoria Journal-Star reported that the man was also willing to supply hundreds of dollars' worth of paint for the project.

By the time the mural was finished, neighbors could see that it was an image of Cookie Monster in the style of a Soviet propaganda poster. The caption written in Russian apparently says, "World. Earth. Cookies."

Once Hawkins' patron came through with his pay, he figured that would be the end of it.

However, four days after the job was finished, Hawkins posted another message on Facebook revealing that the mural had been completely painted over as we can see here.

According to The Peoria Journal-Star, this came after the building's actual owner, Nate Comte, apparently returned from a Thanksgiving vacation to discover what had happened to his building.

After retrieving Hawkins' number from one of the business cards he had circulated in the area, Comte called him to ask, "What the hell is this mural on my building?"

According to The Peoria Journal-Star, Comte initially threatened to call the police on Hawkins for vandalism but soon learned that someone had pretended to be him to get it done.

In his Facebook post, Hawkins apologized to Comte, saying, "It was definitely a weird situation from the beginning, and we should have asked more questions."

Although it remains a mystery as to who commissioned this mural, it was apparently someone who knew Comte well enough to know he'd both be away while this was made and angered at its existence.

And since Comte's response was, "I don't hate art but don't know what the hell that was," it seems he was right about that last part.

That frustration isn't helped by the fact that it seems he'll need two additional coats of paint to undo Hawkins' work, nor by the fact that people who liked the mural keep sending him angry emails.

As he put it, "It wasn't a mural. It was graffiti. Now I'm the evil Grinch and getting hate mail."

For his part, Hawkins is just confused by the whole affair. It's definitely hard to blame him for that.

h/t: The Peoria Journal-Star, Facebook | Joshua Hawkins