10 questions with Pittsburgh street art king Jeremy Raymer

Read this, then join us for Ride with Raymer, a mural tour with The Incline & Healthy Ride.

60 cans of spray paint + 60 hours of work = 1 intense mural.

60 cans of spray paint + 60 hours of work = 1 intense mural.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy M. Raymer
Rossilynne Culgan

Some of Pittsburgh’s most beloved art doesn’t live in a museum.

Instead, it meets people on the streets where they walk, bike, and drive. It’s bold, vibrant and hulking (sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally).

You can’t miss Jeremy M. Raymer’s work. His 46 murals span across Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. And if you haven’t seen them in real life, you’ve probably seen them on Instagram.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Pittsburgh artist’s work and writing about it often, chronicling his Magneto, Homer SimpsonHulk, and more. Readers have devoured these stories. I think that’s because there’s something magical about Raymer’s process — how he transforms derelict walls into fine art canvases, molding nothing into something in just a few hours.

It’s been a dream of our staff to pull together a mural tour with the artist himself, and we’re happy to present to you Ride with Raymer, a mural tour with The Incline & Healthy Ride.

The event includes a guided bike tour with Raymer featuring more than a dozen of his murals, then some time to socialize over food at Talia Cucina & Rosticceria. Bring your own questions for the artist (and your own helmet).

In preparation for the mural tour, we dug through our archives and sat down with Raymer to talk through his murals, his neighborhood, and his other art. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get started as an artist?

It all started with a trip in 2013 to Wynwood Walls Garden in Florida, which he calls “the street art capital of the United States.” The visit sparked his passion for a new medium.

“That was my first experience seeing a high concentration of murals. I literally came home and I brought spray paint and I started.”

But he worked as a senior electrical engineer at Westinghouse, so art was just a hobby until May 6, 2016, a date etched in Raymer’s memory.

In college at Pitt, he balanced his engineering coursework with studio art electives. During class, a professor told him that he drew like a painter, so he tried a painting class and learned the oil painting skills that would inform his work.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Raymer describes his work as “melancholic beauty,” and he’s influenced by the artist Man Ray.

“Portraiture is definitely my main thing and being able to capture the essence and a feeling within the eyes and the emotion.”

Can you pick a favorite mural you’ve created?

“At this point, I’d still say it’s the Magneto one. Just the fit and the size — it’s a neat combination of everything. Kind of hit right on key for that one. Clemente is a close second though.”

Magneto’s face, with gritted teeth, covers the wall at AAA Scrap Metals along Penn Avenue near the Lawrenceville-Strip District border, and the comic book character’s outstretched arms reach across the scrap yard’s metal fence as if they’re pulling metal into the building.

You can find the Clemente mural on the side of Verdetto’s Bar & Restaurant, 814 Madison Ave. (East Allegheny).

What question do people always ask you about your work?

“A lot of times people ask me how much I got paid to do that. A lot of times people are surprised by the fact of getting paid for doing that — that’s it’s not ‘real work.'”

Editor’s note: These people are rude.

In addition to creating murals, what other art do you do?

Sublimation printing for T-shirts, smaller pieces, stickers, and stencil work.

In a spot-on portrayal of Homer Simpson, Jeremy Raymer used a shipping container to double as a donut box.

In a spot-on portrayal of Homer Simpson, Jeremy Raymer used a shipping container to double as a donut box. It's one of Raymer's many murals in Lawrenceville.

Courtesy of Jeremy M. Raymer

Where can people find your murals?

“Lawrenceville definitely has the highest concentration.”

What’s your favorite neighborhood in Pittsburgh?

“Honestly, where I’m at right now. I’ve been encouraging people to come to Uptown for a long time.”

Why did you want to be a part of this event?

“I’m definitely into bike culture myself. I’ve been riding bikes around the city for a long time. I thought it would definitely be something that the public would enjoy.”

Are you a cyclist?

“Yes — nothing too serious, but I’ve had a Healthy Ride account ever since they opened.”

Why should people come to this event?

“It’s always nice to get outside and get some exercise in. If anybody’s interested, it might be neat to have my perspective of what the mural’s about and how they came to be.”

Ride with Raymer, a mural tour with The Incline & Healthy Ride

Join The Incline and Healthy Ride on a guided bike tour with artist Jeremy M. Raymer to see his eye-catching murals. We'll end with a happy hour at Talia Cucina & Rosticceria, where Raymer will stick around to answer your questions and you’ll see even more of his artwork.

  • This event is for you if you love Pittsburgh street art, insider info, and leisurely Saturday afternoon bike rides.
  • Light appetizers are included with your ticket, and a cash bar will be available.
  • Limited bikes are available, so reserve your spot now.
  • Your ticket supports our local newsroom, which is committed to keeping you informed by reporting relevant, original, and actionable journalism.

Where: Healthy Ride Headquarters at 3328 Penn Ave. (Lawrenceville)

When: August 25, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

How much: $20 Ride | $35 Become an Incline member — and ride