Ladies Who Paint with a Purpose

Phoebe Cornog and Roxy Prima are muralists aiming to empower women—while making East Village more Instagram-able

Roxy Prima and Phoebe Cornog co-founded Pandr Design Co. in 2016. Hard work brought success to their North Park design studio specializing in hand lettering and illustration.

At the moment, the pair are overseeing details for their annual Ladies Who Paint mural festival, centered in downtown San Diego’s East Village.

Murals are a Pandr specialty.

The San Diego Padres hired the company to do a mural-sized special installation for Opening Day 2018. It was well-regarded, and other professional sports teams got wind of Pandr.

Pandr’s 2018 mural for the San Diego Padres Opening Day. (Courtesy photo)

Prima and Cornog went on to create similar projects for several pro teams, including: Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants; the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings; and the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA.

Pandr doesn’t just do sports murals. They’ve designed outdoor murals for the Imperial Beach Pier, Cesar Chavez Park and Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay in Chula Vista.

Indoors, they’ve applied their painting skills to walls belonging to San Diego’s Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Saatchi & Saatchi (El Segundo) and Visa (San Francisco).

Business is good. But Prima and Cornog looked around and noticed the industry was highly male-dominated. They participated in a large, out-of-state mural festival in 2017 and it was obvious to them how underrepresented women were.

“Some mural festivals boast—boast—about having 30 percent females participating,” Cornog says.

They decided to level the playing field.

Ladies Who Paint

Hannah Gundrum works on her 2021 Ladies Who Paint mural on the East Village Crossfit.

In 2019, Cornog and Prima created the nonprofit Ladies Who Paint mural festival. They picked 10 female artists from all over the world to come work in San Diego’s East Village.

All the artists stayed together in an Airbnb, and it was very much a team-building event that built camaraderie, Prima says.

When they put out a call for applications for 2020, more than 700 women applied. Of course, the pandemic caused the event to dry up.

It’s back. Due to lingering COVID concerns, they limited this year’s participants to local San Diego muralists. (See the list, here.)

Work on murals began in October. San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn dedicated October 7-14 as “Ladies Who Paint Week.”

Ladies Who Paint murals in progress at Hotel Z. (Courtesy photo)

Cornog and Prima say there were surprised at the struggle this year to get some businesses to give up wall space for the event.

“We’re very happy and thankful to the companies that are working with us, but it’s been an uphill battle to prove the importance of public art,” Cornog says. “It really does give a boost to the community. And we get a lot of thank-you’s from people in the neighborhood.”

Some murals are completed. Others are nearly finished or just about to be started. Prima and Cornog hope all will be ready for viewing by mid-November. (See a map of the mural locations.)

In the meantime, keep an eye out for Fresh Paint signs. SDSun



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