Meet the Artist Behind Some of Cincinnati’s Most Popular Murals

Cody Gunningham’s vibrant art decorates the Queen City, from the popular flower-painted garage door on East 13th Street to Social OTR’s blue botanical mural.

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

You’d never know Cody Gunningham failed his high school art class. The 30-year-old’s vibrant art decorates the Queen City, from the popular flower-painted garage door on East 13th Street to Social OTR’s blue botanical mural to Lost & Found’s rainbow-colored mural depicting cartoony plants, eyes, and cocktails. Paint isn’t his only medium, though. He’s designed a clothing line for New York City–based fashion company Rochambeau, created visual brand assets for Wódka Bar and now-closed restaurant Eighth & English, designed merchandise artwork for indie folk band Dawg Yawp, and directed a creative campaign for an album release by ElectroPop trio Passeport.

Armed with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he studied drawing and painting, Gunningham calls himself a professional creative. “I’m trying to offer more than just something that’s still on a wall,” he says. His diverse skill set is best evidenced by his recent collaboration with Lost & Found’s owners, who hired Gunningham in late 2018 to oversee the bar’s creative direction. In addition to designing and painting its funky mural, he worked with the owners and general contractors on the bar’s interior design, which involved aesthetic details like selecting wallpaper, molding, and other finishes. He also designed the menu, logo, and website, which he continues to update along with the brand’s social media. “I was hands-on from the initial architectural renderings of the space,” he says. “It was like a whole package, and I’m on retainer to continue creating content.”

His work at Lost & Found led to a job painting murals for media agency Empower, located across the street. Moving forward, he hopes to partner with other local bars and restaurants in need of a refresh, and he recently launched a creative company called Boredom Department with local photographer Ben Michaelis to offer a full range of content creation services.

Influenced by both classic and contemporary artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko, and David Hockney, Gunningham’s art is colorful, playful, and typically abstract. “I don’t like the depressive dark kind of things. When I make art, it’s not an escape but an acceptance of joy and fun and liveliness,” he says. “I just like to have fun, and I think that comes across in the work. It’s light-hearted subjects: flowers, plants, people, cats. And that’s all it needs to be.”

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