Image shows multiple angles of the HARIBO waterpower in pleasant prairie, Wisconsin.

The Haribo manufacturing plant recently began operations in Pleasant Prairie! While the facility may not have any public exhibits or attractions in place just yet, the bright and creative design on the nearby water tower is now complete, and even more amazing when viewed in person.

Eric Henn, a muralist and artist with over 30 years of experience in large-scale art, came to Pleasant Prairie to complete the project late Spring 2023. As a muralist, Henn is known for his  vibrant and creative designs on a variety of surfaces, from traditional wall murals to large tanks and water towers like the one recently completed in Pleasant Prairie for HARIBO. 

We had the opportunity to speak with Henn about this project, his process for completing his designs, 

Could you provide an overview of your process for creating the design and then actually implementing the design on the water tower? 

Most of the time I work with the client and create a custom design for them. Other times I am approached by a client who already have a specific logo or design they want and just need me to paint it. The latter was the case with this project. I was happy to bring this iconic design to life with my skills as a muralist. 

Otherwise the custom design creation process is a collaborative endeavor between myself and the client. The client provides me with their ideas and inspiration, often sharing images or concepts they have in mind. From there, I take those inputs and begin crafting a rendering that captures their vision. We engage in discussions and revisions until we reach a final design that satisfies their expectations.

Once the design is finalized, my focus shifts to the practical aspects of the project. I assess the amount of paint needed, select the appropriate colors, and determine the most suitable technique for transferring the design onto the chosen surface. This involves planning and strategizing to ensure a successful execution.

How did you get started in this line of work? And how long have you been painting in general, and what brought you to murals and water towers/large projects like this one?

In my early 20's, while living in Virginia Beach, I began painting surfboards, motorcycles, and billboards. One opportunity led to another when I had the chance to create a 140ft long underwater mural in a mall located in Corpus Christi. It was during this project that someone from the Citgo refinery in town noticed my work and approached me about painting a small image on one of their tanks. I ended up convincing them to let me paint the entire 17,000 square foot tank!  This experience sparked my focus on large-scale murals, particularly in industrial settings such as water towers and storage tanks.

This project is in the running for the Tnemec Tank of the Year contest. Can you tell us more about that?

Tnemec, the paint manufacturer I'm utilizing for this mural, organizes the "Tank of the Year" contest. All nominated water tanks will have their photographs featured on the contest website, allowing the general public to participate in voting for their favorite tank, aptly named "The People's Choice." 

The voting phase of the contest can be quite intense, as participants are able to track the progress of their water tank design and see their ranking among the other entries. The competitive atmosphere drives communities to rally behind their respective water tanks, and it’s exciting to see the level of engagement and enthusiasm generated by the contest.

The recipient of the People's Choice award automatically becomes a contender for the official Tank of the Year title, alongside the 11 other runners-up. A panel of water tank enthusiasts will assess these finalists based on artistic value, the significance of the tank to the surrounding community, and any challenges encountered during the project. 

Voting will be open to the public through an online platform from October 2nd to the 13th, and the winner will be announced on October 20th. 

Your artwork has been featured in movies, TV, and popular publications – any that you’re able to share specifically that stands out to you?

I always get a thrill when my friends and family reach out to me, to let me know they've spotted one of my murals in a TV show, movie, or magazine. It's a special feeling to see something I've created being showcased and recognized in such a prominent medium. With the advent of social media, it has become even more amazing to discover the unexpected places where my work has been shared and appreciated. It’s opened my eyes to the widespread impact of my art.