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Need a holiday photo? Gig Harbor has a new glow-in-the-dark winter wonderland mural

·2 min read

Hillarie Isackson quit her sales and marketing job to pursue a career as a full-time artist just before the pandemic hit.

“I thought I made the worst mistake of my life, but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made,” the 37-year-old said.

She opened Hart Studios in Gig Harbor and recently contracted with the city for a seasonal glow-in-the-dark holiday mural.

The full project, including UV lights on timers, went up last weekend. It’s adjacent to the entryway of the Devoted Kiss Cafe, 8809 N. Harborview Dr., and will be reinstalled each winter.

“At nighttime, if we illuminate it, it gives an entirely different look to the mural,” Isackson said. “... It just looks magical. I’m really, really excited.”

UV lights on timers give the mural a very different look at night, artist Hillarie Isackson said.
UV lights on timers give the mural a very different look at night, artist Hillarie Isackson said.

The painting is 11 feet by 12 feet and depicts an archway with Pacific Northwest animals and flowers, with mistletoe on top. It’s designed for visitors to stand in front of, potentially for photos.

“It’s like you’re in this winter wonderland night scene,” Isackson said, complete with a glowing moon, stars and snow. “I have three kids myself, and I can just imagine my daughters in their cute Christmas dresses in front of this.”

The city of Gig Harbor contracted with artist Hillarie Isackson for a seasonal glow-in-the-dark mural illuminated with UV light. The artist designed the painting for visitors to take photos with it.
The city of Gig Harbor contracted with artist Hillarie Isackson for a seasonal glow-in-the-dark mural illuminated with UV light. The artist designed the painting for visitors to take photos with it.

The city allocated about $5,000 for the project.

She said the mayor planned to announce it at the city’s tree lighting Dec. 5, and she planned to be at the painting afterward.

“I want to see what people’s reactions are,” Isackson said.

The mural is on the exterior wall of her studio, and she said it’s been fun to have her kids stop by with friends to see the progress on the piece.

She’s a single mother and said she was terrified when she decided to pursue her art full-time and the pandemic hit. She worked hard, and the community was incredibly supportive when she opened her studio, she said.

“I didn’t even have to touch the loan I took out,” she said.

Isackson said she does pet portraits and is illustrating a Gig Harbor-themed children’s book. A couple years ago she started doing murals.

Some of her recent pieces are at the Crescent Valley Lavender Farm, Acorn Brewing and Ethereal Arts Northwest.

The Gig Harbor holiday mural will be up until Feb. 2, Isackson said.

The mural will be adjacent to the entryway of the Devoted Kiss Cafe, 8809 N. Harborview Dr., on the exterior wall of artist Hillarie Isackson’s studio. It’ll be up until Feb. 2, then installed seasonally each year.
The mural will be adjacent to the entryway of the Devoted Kiss Cafe, 8809 N. Harborview Dr., on the exterior wall of artist Hillarie Isackson’s studio. It’ll be up until Feb. 2, then installed seasonally each year.

She’s hoping to do three more seasonal murals after that.

For spring, she has an idea that involves giant flowers that glow neon in the dark, and a swing hanging from a branch.

“I have a pretty solid idea for the next one, but I still need approval,” she said. “... Kind of what you’d imagine a fairy garden to look like, almost like an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ kind of feel to it.”

The city of Gig Harbor contracted with artist Hillarie Isackson for a seasonal glow-in-the-dark mural illuminated with UV lights at night.
The city of Gig Harbor contracted with artist Hillarie Isackson for a seasonal glow-in-the-dark mural illuminated with UV lights at night.
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