If you happen to take a stroll through downtown Auburn, you might come across a mural displaying an image of two tigers and two eagles together. This mural, alongside many others, was created by R.C. Hagans, a street artist who has completed many pieces outside of his work in Auburn.
Born in Tyler, Texas, but raised around the City of Auburn, Hagans said he always felt drawn to the Auburn-Opelika area.
“I moved away a handful of times, but it seems like the universe wanted me in Opelika, Alabama, so here I am,” he said.
Now, at 33 years of age, he has adapted to a more relaxed, independent lifestyle, Hagans said.
“Just trying to make it one day at a time and not have a boss or an alarm clock,” he said. “It’s going alright so far.”
Hagans recounts that he grew up wrestling and training in mixed martial arts. This carries over into his artwork as he says that one of the mottos of wrestlers is to “embrace the grind.”
The projects have been stressful, but Hagans said he enjoys the challenge.
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“Sometimes I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but that’s part of what I like about it,” he said. “I like large tasks.”
In fact, he had quite a large task to accomplish in 2016 when he was contacted about working at Bonnaroo, he said.
“I actually remember where I was when I got the call for Bonnaroo,” Hagans said. “I was walking into an art shop up in Atlanta with a friend of mine when my friend Danny Clinch proposed doing a collaboration at Bonnaroo.”
Clinch and Hagans had met a few years prior at a Billy Reid Shindig and currently have known each other for seven years. The collaboration featured walls with prints of Clinch’s photography work, enhanced by Hagans' art.
“That’s one of the coolest calls I’ve gotten in my entire life,” Hagans said. “I got to do a collaboration with one of my heroes. He’s just a legend, and I’m so lucky to have been able to meet him and work with him. That’s one of my favorite projects to date.”
One of Hagans' most recent projects has been a mural on North Donahue Drive in downtown Auburn.
“The Orr family who commissioned the mural were really amazing to work with,” he said. “They gave me kind of complete freedom and just wanted me to kind of illustrate Auburn.They really respected me and told me to do it how I wanted to”.
This experience influenced Hagans to have a new outlook on his work. He said he realized he should be able to stand up for his work, represent himself however he wished and create art he was passionate about, which is the spirit of Auburn.
“All the little symbols from the mural are taken from Auburn history, or the Auburn creed, or Auburn iconography,” he said.
As to the process of creating such an intricate masterpiece, Hagans said he starts by trying to put himself in a state where he is open to ideas and can build on each little thing.
For younger artists, Hagans emphasized the importance of creating meaningful relationships with other artists.
“The trick is to make yourself useful and make yourself available and be friendly to people who inspire you, and you might get to collaborate with someone,” he said. “I think the best collaborations are friendships. That’s where it really happens”.
To see Hagans' mural, you can find it on the side of a building located directly behind the original Momma Goldberg’s.
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