Photo by Carmen Forman
Mitchell Richards, 28, stands with some of his first Bigfoot paintings in his home. Richards buys paintings at thrift stores and then paints Bigfoot on them as a joke.
One man’s painting of Bigfoot on a thrift store canvas was all a joke until it became a serious business at the Plaza District’s monthly Live on the Plaza festival.
Mitchell Richards, 28, is not an artist. He hasn’t taken an art class since middle school. But he is finding out his idea of a joke is actually art.
His business Thriftfoot started of course, at a thrift shop. On his frequent thrifting adventures, Richards saw dozens of ugly giant landscape paintings in home furnishing departments.
His idea: to paint Bigfoot on them.
“I always saw these stupid paintings and I thought, ‘There’s got to be something you can do with that,’” he said.
Richards started painting Bigfoot on thrift store paintings about a year ago simply because he thought it was funny. He would keep them or give them to friends, but he didn’t take it seriously.
That is, until his girlfriend signed him up to show at Live on the Plaza without his knowledge.
“I got accepted and that forced me to take it more seriously and actually make more paintings,” he said. “So it’s probably her fault that I’ve kept it going.”
On the sidewalk strip of his first Live on the Plaza, Richards sold three of five Bigfoot paintings. He was shocked. He didn’t think he would make it into Live, or that people would spend upwards of $35 on his work.
“Just to have people laugh is totally worth it,” Richards said. “I could sell zero paintings and be totally fine just because it was so nice to have people come up and laugh. It started off as a joke and I still think it’s a joke, so it’s just nice to have people laugh at your jokes.”
Contrary to what his art may make people think, Richards doesn’t believe in Bigfoot. He just thinks Bigfoot is unique.
Richards work out of his OKC home to paint Bigfoot on a landscape or religious painting and then outlined with black Sharpie to make the creature stand out and hide any flaws.
“He’s just a character,” he said. “When I first started making the drawings, he’s just a character with big teeth and big eyes.”
Thriftfoot art will make its last Live appearance in July but Richards isn’t done with Bigfoot yet. He is already looking for a new place to sell his art, such as coffee shops or other art walks.
“I’m still trying to make it the best possible Bigfoot it can be…or something cheesy like that,” Richards said. “It’s just fun.”