Matthew Trammel, reality TV muralist

From Laguna Creek High to Gordon Ramsey’s 24 Hours To Hell & Back

Matthew Trammel’s murals have been featured in not one, but two reality TV shows.

Matthew Trammel’s murals have been featured in not one, but two reality TV shows.

PHOTO BY james raia

Matthew Trammel has succeeded in the corporate world, worked in security, walked on runways as a model and had fleeting fame on national television. But he’s more content working alone in an Indian restaurant, sports pubs, wineries, hotels or wherever his brushes, pencils and acrylic paints are needed. For the past several years, Trammel, 36, has built an ever-expanding business as a muralist. He’s painted murals throughout the state, including downtown Sacramento restaurants. His controversial recent interior renovation of Sandra Dee’s was featured on chef Gordon Ramsey’s show, 24 Hours To Hell & Back. Nearly 20 years ago, Trammel, a self-taught artist, played football at Laguna Creek High School. He still has the look of an athlete who might be competitive. But a long-time hobby as a painter became a career through an odd collection of circumstances.

How did you become a muralist?

I’ve always painted, but it’s always been on the side. I was a regional supervisor for a company, and I got in a bad car accident about seven years ago. That allowed me some free time because I couldn’t go to work. I had a cast around my midsection. But I was able to paint a mural at a restaurant. I was asked to put murals all over the restaurant. The owner told the manager to take everything down on the walls, and that’s kind of how the commercial muraling got started. It was a place in Elk Grove called Bull Wings.

When did your business take off?

It really started to go well when I got married about one-and-a-half years ago on a national TV reality show. On the last episode, they showed seven murals I’d done in a winery, and people started blogging about it. It was kind of a big deal, so that was kind of cool.

Are you still married?

No. We got it annulled like three months later.

One of your recent projects included four murals in an Indian restaurant in Sacramento. How did that come about and how long did it take?

They found me on Yelp. I worked on it for about six hours each day, and each one took about three days. Basically, what I do is come in and do the background and an outline, then fill it. And on the last day, I do all the little details.

What problems do you come across doing murals?

I did a huge mural recently of Venice. It was a 22-foot high mural and 30-feet wide. It was up a staircase, and the wall was curved. Measuring everything out took awhile.

What other projects do you have in the works?

I’ve got a huge project for a guy. I started doing trophy rooms. A lot of people have these rooms with taxidermy animals and they put them in the huge scenes, privately and commercially. I hooked up with a construction guy and he got me involved. I’m basically doing all of the painting of the scene behind the animals. It’s pretty cool. I’m doing an African scene and an Antarctica scene.

Do you still compete in sports?

I played intramural football at UC Davis, and I played football at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, but that was quite awhile ago, in 2000.

After you did the sports murals in Bull Wings, did you have other local projects?

Yes, lots of places in Midtown. I did a “Starry Night” scene in the Residence Inn right across the street from the Capitol. I’ve done a lot of restaurants, and I’ve done a Texas Roadhouse and lots of wineries and hotels. I’ve done them all over the place. It’s just recently become full-time for me.

What kind of paint do you use?

It’s acrylic. I used oils way back when, but it takes way too long to dry. The colors are great and I found some really good colors, but … I wish oil dried faster. So it’s easier to use acrylics. I do know some muralists who use oils, but it takes them forever to get a project done.

You also do speed painting. What’s that all about?

I started about five years ago. I do one every year for the Folsom Symphony to raise money for the artisan schools. I did a similar one recently for McClatchy High School. I did a painting of their lion [the school’s mascot]. Supposedly, they’re taking the one I painted and making it into the school’s logo.

What’s the speed painting process?

I do a huge painting in about 10 minutes, and I paint it with both hands and to music. The kids love to see it. Any place I do it—it’s all kinds of organizations—they’re usually raffling off something at the end of an event. They auction off the painting. It’s fun.