Muralist Vincent Concepcion
Three of his murals can be seen along Benicia’s First Street, while others adorn the walls of local homes. These murals are part of an extensive portfolio by artist and entrepreneur Vincent Concepcion, who has been creating large-scale designs for over twenty years for the interiors and exteriors of commercial buildings, restaurants, and residences. Recently commissioned works by the 50-year-old artist include Lucca’s Beer Garden (439 1st Street, 2018); Hope, Joy, and Love (513 1st Street, 2019); and Yesteryears (H & 1st Street, 2020). Hope, Joy, and Love, commissioned by Jeannie Hamann, displays a view of Benicia and the Carquinez Strait while Yesteryears, commissioned by David Batchelor and a group of Benicians, depicts scenes from Benicia’s history. His mural designs are bold and colorful, full of people and landmarks, telling stories on a grand scale.
Concepcion was born in Hawaii and raised in the San Francisco area.
As a teen he lived in Fairfield and Chico. His career journey has been a process of self-discovery, opportunity, and persistence. “I’ve been drawing since I was about 5 years old. Other kids were athletic,” he laughs. “That wasn’t me.” As a child he used paper bags to draw on with a pencil or pen. “I liked to copy images from the TV Guide and cartoons that were popular for kids in the ‘80s. I never had any lessons.” His uncle introduced him to airbrush painting when he was 15 years old. “I learned to use it to create T-shirt designs. My friends liked what I made, especially after I learned to put a name on a shirt.”
Vincent Concepcion with “Maui Lisa”
He estimates he has made over 6,000 originally designed airbrushed shirts. He went from selling them out of his home, to a leased space in a Fairfield mall, to a shop in Chico in 1995, after a national representative for a T-shirt company saw his work and recruited him. At first, he airbrushed all his shirts. Later he learned to use Illustrator and Photoshop to digitally capture his designs and had them screen printed on the shirts.
Vincent Conception’s “Yesteryears” mural
Exposure through the Chico shop brought his streetwear designs to the attention of Carlos Santana, whose promotional team contracted with the company in 1999 to design a concert T-shirt.
Vincent was assigned to take on the massive project, which helped the business grow from 8 to approximately 50 employees. The reimagined Lionhead design was printed for over 200,000 Santana fans. “It was a good salary, and I worked with a good team, but I felt zero recognition of my work and I didn’t have ownership of my designs. So, after six years, I decided to try my own thing.”
Beginning in 2002, Concepcion focused his creativity on a series of niche products, including island-themed apparel, casual wear for golfers, greeting cards and posters featuring local landmarks, and paintings of local area sports icons. “I wish I had more business acumen,” he says, describing the various business ventures as learning experiences. He learned to find his strength in faith and a supportive family. “Failures are what makes you,” he asserts. “You have to do what makes you happy.”
A chance opportunity to show his paintings in a Bay Area sports bar in 2016 led to the owner commissioning several of them for his home.
“After he ran out of room, he asked me to paint the walls of his restaurant, and that led to a string of restaurant commissions in Danville, Pleasanton, Sacramento, and elsewhere.” He got commissions to do outdoor murals as well. “I create several versions of a work in the design phase to review with my client and then sketch the design freehand. I use tape to lay out large sections and paint the mural with durable oil enamels.” The large works can take from a few weeks to several months to complete. “I welcome the challenge,” he says, “that’s where you grow. If you break it up into pieces, anything is achievable.”
Murals continue to be his focus today, but Concepcion has other projects he is promoting, including a new line of limited-edition apparel featuring an island treatment of the Mona Lisa portrait. “Sharing my art is one of the most enjoyable ways to communicate with others,” he smiles. Concepcion currently lives in Vallejo. You can learn more about him and follow his art projects at GoPracticeG.com.
Vincent Concepcion’s Crockett Banquet mural