The UK-based artist INSA—a pop-art pioneer known internationally for his trademark 'graffiti fetish' pattern and his one-of-a-kind animated "GIF-ITI" paintings—just made his mark on Portland.

Last Friday, the artist debuted his collaboration with Hollywood Theatre's Education Program and Open School North, a new mural covering the wall of Open School that faces North Lombard Street.

It's unlike any other mural in Portland right now.

INSA hand-paints his animated murals one layer at a time and photographs each layer along the way, then he uploads and loops them into a GIF. He also created an app called GIF-ITI Viewer where you can watch the painting digitally being brought to life.

"I wanted to try to create an artwork that was meant to be viewed on the internet," explained INSA. "That's how I came up with making GIFs out of my paintings—so that they lived online better than offline."


After seeing INSA's work online, Hollywood Theatre Education Manager Taylor Neitzke thought the digital art would be a perfect match for the theater's media integration program that partners with Open School North to bring media arts into school curriculum. INSA agreed and in September, the artists started painting a new mural wth 43 middle school students, many with special needs.

"It's really difficult for these students to sit and be engaged and pay attention for an entire class period," said Neitzke. "So it's been outstanding to see so much engagement, so much focus, so much dedication to the project. Students are blown away that this is their voice, their ideas and their hands on the spray cans making this painting."

The notoriously secretive artist insisted on staying anonymous, asking fans not to thank him by name at the invite-only reveal (which included a private show by Portugal the Man). His next project is under wraps too, but it'll be a change from painting with kids. "It involves a desert in Dubai and filming from outer space," said INSA.