You may not know Rick Moreno by name, but you’ve most likely seen his work. Moreno is the muralist responsible for the “I (Heart) Renton” painting downtown on Third Street and countless other window scenes displayed seasonally in Renton businesses.
“To me windows are a canvas and so it’s just a really fun place to be creative,” said Moreno.
He has no formal art training, but studied architecture and civil engineering in school and has honed his mural skills over the years in a part-time profession. Moreno had seen others do window displays and was looking for some part-time work in 2000, when he decided to try his hand at the art work. He was encouraged by family, friends and businesses and did his first mural for Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes in 2007.
“I painted the murals inside their store when they first opened and so as a result they’ve been a client of mine ever since and people started noticing,” said Moreno.
He’s not the only window muralist in town, but he paints regionally and presently has seven window displays up in Renton. He’s careful to point out there is a sort of code between the window artists to prevent them from infringing on each other’s turf. Once he sees art on a business by another artist, Moreno said he won’t approach that company about doing its window displays the next year, unless they contact him.
Window displays and wall murals aren’t the only type of art Moreno creates.
“There’s not a month that goes by that I don’t have some artwork on the side that I’m doing, whether it be in chalk board art, whether it be a sporting event, a seasonal event, an anniversary of a restaurant, a special occasion,” he said.
He gets his painting ideas by following what’s relevant and trending in advertising. Moreno is always looking for what catches his eye. Sometimes he uses Hallmark cards for inspiration.
“I don’t plagiarize anything; I just spin something I see from a concept,” he said.
One concept for Potbelly Sandwiches involved a backdrop of the Swiss Alps and a St. Bernard with a bag full of Potbelly sandwiches. It’s those type of subtle twists that make Moreno’s sketches distinctive.
He says his creations are addictive and he gets a rush from painting legal graffiti.
“Other people have their toys and their hobby that they do, this is my hobby; this is my toy,” he said. “It gives me a lot of pleasure on many levels. It gives me the sense that I’m meeting the needs of someone else. It gives me creative license and that satisfies something within me as well.”