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Local artist uses online following to pursue dream of painting

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Murals at Killer Burger

EUGENE, Ore. -- LaMichael James's third Killer Burger restaurant has opened its doors in Eugene, and the former University of Oregon running back wanted this restaurant to honor legends of the school he attended.

Athletes whose names you might know, including Justin Herbert, Marcus Mariota, Steve Prefontaine and the LaMichael James, the owner himself, are plastered all over the walls of Killer Burger. James enlisted the help of a local artist to do the job – Kayla Carlile, an artist who specializes in murals.

She says the project took six weeks to finish. Carlile is no stranger to grand projects like this, having painted big murals for multiple clients throughout her career. She is a University of Oregon graduate who started working an office job, but realized she wanted to pursue her true passion of art to make a living. She says he took a risk, rented out a warehouse and began hosting paint and sip classes.

“I just pictured it as being this really cool modernized art studio where people could come, we could do paint and sip nights, and I decided to take the risk,” Carlile said. “I rented out the warehouse and I started doing the paint and sips every Saturday while I was still working full time in the office. Eventually every class was filling up every weekend and it kind of overtook my full-time job, and at that point I decided to leave my office job and pursue art.”

From there, her career took off. Her art has gotten a following online, with over half a million followers on TikTok.

“I would film myself painting and speed it up and post it on TikTok, and I probably posted a couple dozen videos before I ever had one gain traction and get views, and from there it kind of just spiraled,” Carlile said. “It was like a snowball effect, and I would continue to pick people that were well recognized on TikTok, in the TikTok community, paint portraits of them. They would share it so that's probably how my following grew so large.”

Carlile says the popularity of her videos on TikTok allowed her to monetize her passion, and gave her more opportunities to make money from her artwork through things like brand deals. Despite her success, she’s a proud local and plans to stay close to Eugene no matter where her career takes her. Her goal is to do as many murals as possible, focusing on legends of the music industry and Hollywood.

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