Mimi Ross Blank loves the Internet.
The owner of Tiles by Mimi has found her own slice of heaven in Spokane by creating in her home studio expensive custom murals on tile for customers across the country.
If it werent for the Internet, I wouldnt be here, Blank says with a smile. Its amazing. People find me and they like what I do.
The Spokane woman produces the tile murals for both commercial and residential projects in a broad spectrum of designs. She paints whatever can be imagined, including landscapes, people, fruit, vegetables, flowers, houses, animalseven a beloved motorcycle.
Mediterranean murals are quite popular right now, she says, but these things go in cycles.
Blank declines to disclose her revenues, but business seems to be booming. Hanging on a wall above her cramped workstation in her home is a calendar thats marked with future projects.
I have a six-month backlog of orders, Blank says. I do about 12 square feet a month. Thats all I can do.
All of her murals are originals. Blank charges clients $220 a square footwith a two-square-foot minimum. For larger murals of over 10 square feet, she charges $200 a square foot.
Blank refuses to copy a job for other clients. Although no two murals are ever identical, she will create similar-looking projects. She isnt interested in mass-producing her more popular murals for commercial sale.
That would be boring, Blank says. The challenge for me is to find ways to make it challenging. I look at making the colors slightly different or the way light flows on the mural.
Blank prefers to vary her work schedulepainting landscapes in one project and animals in the next.
For a while bowls of fruit were very popular, she says. I got sick of it, and wanted to do other things. I really like it when its a different design.
One of her favorite projects was a 24-square-foot mural of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for a shower wall. That was fun, she says. I really got into researching Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Her clients apply her tile murals to kitchens and bathroom walls and fireplace hearths. They also install the murals behind kitchen stoves and incorporate them into bathroom vanities or showers.
The glaze on the tiles can withstand high and low temperatures, water, and humidity, Blank says.
Ive never heard about a problem with my tiles, she says. They have to be installed correctly, with the right type of grout depending on what type of tile is used and where it will be installed.
Also, she paints the murals for floors and patios, but those uses arent popular choices among her clients.
Dirt tends to stick on the edges of glaze, and people walking on the tiles can cause it to wear down, she says.
Blanks tile work has caught the attention of one national company that has asked her to design artwork that will be used on its debit and credit cards, Blank says. She says the company found one of her desert landscapes and contacted her about doing something similar.
Were still waiting for MasterCard to give its approval, she says. When the company handling this called me, I thought it was a hoax. Its something that could pay off very well for many years, especially if they continue to use my designs.
The cards will be marketed to Hispanics living in South America and Mexico by the institution, Blank says. Immigrants working in the U.S. could deposit money into accounts, and their relatives living outside the U.S. could access the money with the cards.
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