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The Man Behind the Mural

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
Creating the 25-foot mural outside of HP Pavilion at San Jose’s south entrance was hardly a chore for artist David Arrigo.

That’s because work is much easier when it’s for your favorite team.

Arrigo, a native of Toronto, claims the Sharks as his National Hockey League team. And that was before he started painting murals for them last season.

“I absolutely love the Sharks organization,” Arrigo said. “I’ve been to a number of games out there and I love the intelligence and spirit of the fans. You don’t see that in too many buildings, especially down in the States.”

Arrigo has been working with NHL teams for nearly a decade after he gained attention for his 80-foot mural outside of Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant in Toronto. The Hockey Hall of Fame then commissioned him to create a piece for Gretzky’s induction ceremony and later the NHL asked him to work at the 2000 All-Star Game in Toronto.

Arrigo has worked every All-Star Game since, including this year’s event in Montreal.

“Taking the Canadiens rich history and applying it to canvas was a great honor,” Arrigo said. “Anytime I work with any of the NHL teams, it’s always a special honor.”

Arrigo’s image outside of HP Pavilion includes Milan Michalek, Mike Grier, Derek Joslin, Joe Pavelski, Jeremy Roenick, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Evgeni Nabokov and Captain Patrick Marleau.

The Toronto native came to work for the Sharks after Director of Event Presentation Steve Maroni contacted Arrigo to create a limited edition print of Patrick Marleau. Arrigo and Maroni had worked together before when David was commissioned to do a Live Mural at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Also, Arrigo is the cousin of former Sharks player and assistant coach Rob Zettler.

Maroni then asked Arrigo to create last year’s mural and Arrigo returned this year.

To create the mural, Arrigo made a scaled-down painting of the image and then sent it to a local vinyl company who blew up the image and applied to the ground outside the south entrance of HP Pavilion.

Arrigo began painting at 23, after which he began painting things such as beer logos on walls in bars and restaurants.

“It wasn’t really a decision, it was something I came into,” Arrigo said of his profession. “It just expanded. Now it’s bloomed to what I’m at today.”

Arrigo prides himself on his two specialties: the Live Mural Experience (LMX) and a more recent activity: painting goalie masks.

The LMX involves creating an image over the course of several days on a 16-by-6-foot canvas, Arrigo said. The LMX is Arrigo’s specialty at events such as the NHL All-Star Game.

One of Arrigo’s favorite aspects of the LMX is that it allows him to connect with fans.

“It’s great when I have the LMX program going because I get to talk to so many sports fans and get their views,” Arrigo said. “I’m sort of like a blue collar worker with the NHL, (going) down in the foxhole dealing with everybody. It’s always fun to get discussions going.”

Recently, Arrigo has worked with NHL goaltenders including Tampa Bay’s Mike Smith, Jason LaBarbera of Vancouver and Ottawa rookie Brian Elliot to create custom masks.

“I’ve only been doing that for a couple years,” Arrigo said. “But they’ve really taken off.”

Arrigo says he loves the challenge of capturing a goaltender’s personality through the art on a mask.

“I really enjoy that, because you’re dealing directly with an individual, taking their ideas and expanding on them,” Arrigo said.

Arrigo also works with NASCAR, the NFL and Major League Baseball.

Like any good Canadian boy, Arrigo is a hockey player. His parents got him on skates when he was two-and-a-half and still plays the game. Based on his work with masks, one shouldn’t be surprised to find out that Arrigo is a goaltender.

And just like any loyal fan, he won’t count his team out just yet. He believes the Sharks can emerge from their 3-1 hole against Anaheim.

“I see the Sharks moving on and hopefully right through the Stanley Cup,” Arrigo said.

Arrigo also mentioned that if the Sharks and his other favorite team, the Vancouver Canucks, met in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sharks could take the series in seven games.

Despite the fact his art has taken him around the world to work with countless celebrities and sports heroes, he hasn’t taken his job for granted.

“As much as I am proud,” Arrigo said, “I’m very much a fortunate individual and I count my blessings every day.”

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