RVA’s iconic muralist picked for Richmond Folk Festival poster

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If you live in Richmond, you’ve seen Hamilton Glass’ work – even if you don’t know it. One of the most prolific muralists in the city, the artist is the master behind more than 80 murals on the walls of Richmond buildings.

And in September, he’ll unveil his newest work – the official Richmond Folk Festival poster.

It’s a smaller format than Glass is used to working with. He’s creating the Folk Festival art on a 36x48-inch canvas, which will be reprinted on smaller posters. Usually, he gets the entire side of a building to work with.

His most well-known piece is Richmond is untitled but eye-catching – a black man with an American-flag themed X taped over his mouth, painted on the side of a business at 1208 W. Main St. in the Fan.

He’s also the artist behind “JAMES IS THAT YOU I SMELL,” a Canal walk mural depicting a woman wrinkling her nose in the direction of the river.

“My style is very bright and colorful and vibrant,” he said. There’s a lot of shapes in my work. Most of it is about movement.”

Originally from Philadelphia, Glass was no stranger to Richmond as a child – his mother is a local and he spent time here with her family. After finishing high school, he went north for a while but eventually ended up back in RVA, working full time as an architect, with art as a side job.

By 2009, he was a full-time artist and has become one of the city’s most sought-after muralists. This year, Folk Festival organizers reached out to Glass to design the 2018 commemorative poster. 

“I was so honored to be asked to design the poster,” Glass said.  “I go to the Folk Festival every year and love the energy there. It’s like having a gala of music from all over the world, which attracts people from all over. I’m really excited about it.”

For the Folk Festival poster, Glass has a harder challenge than just working on a smaller scale – the poster must include the names of every performer. With more than 30 acts each year, it’s not an easy feat.

Glass said that like many artists, he starts by sketching out concepts, usually on paper, but for this piece, he’s working in Photoshop.


“I’ve got to be sure all the names fit,” he said. “I’m creating the concept in Photoshop so by the time I get to the painting stage, I’ll pretty much know what’s going on so I won’t be erasing anything.”

When asked about the responsibility of taking on the poster design, Glass says he feels the pressure. “So many artists I know and respect have done these in the past. Pressure creates great things and I hope that it does in this case.”

Glass has already turned in his concept to the Folk Festival committee for approval, but the finished work is a secret until its unveiling next month.

The Big Reveal

The big reveal will be Sept. 12 at a special shindig at Glave Kocen Gallery, 1620 W. Main St. in Richmond. From 5:30 to 7 p.m., guests can meet Glass and see the poster. A limited number of signed, special edition prints will be available for purchase and guests are eligible to participate in a raffle for a chance to win a full set of Richmond Folk Festival posters. 

The event is free and open to the public and while they’re there, guests can enjoy snacks provided by Heritage and try FestivALE, Champion Brewing’s official beer of the Richmond Folk Festival. Live music will be performed by Andrew Ali and Josh Small. 

Artists of the Folk Fest poster include (Check out this gallery of all past posters):