Artist Q&A: The Inspiration Behind Riverdam’s New Mural

Our team at Port Property recently connected with Mike Durkee, local artist and owner of Durkish Delights Design Co. to learn more about the story behind the new mural he brought to life in the entryway of Riverdam. The new mural paints the story of Biddeford’s historic textile mills and the industrial legacy of the Riverdam Mill Complex. Based in New Hampshire, Mike is a designer and muralist for “bold brands and unique homes,” bringing his artistic ability and vision to life through custom, hand painted murals. Read our Q&A with Mike below for insight on his creative process and the inspiration at Riverdam!

How did Durkish Delights Design Co. come to be and how would you describe your own design process?

I’ve been an artist my entire life. I had an opportunity to paint my first mural in 2019 and that led to a bunch more. I quit my full-time job about a year ago, started doing this full time, and haven’t looked back since. I describe my process as collaborative and communicative, and I’m always open to feedback – I thrive off it!

How did you become involved with this mural project at Riverdam?

The team at Millpond Creative (a local art consultancy) was working together with the team at Riverdam to source a local muralist for the building’s entry lobby and posted a request for proposals on Facebook. A friend sent the post my way, I was intrigued, I applied, and I got to work!

What was the inspiration behind the final mural design?

We wanted to honor the industrial history of the building. Originally built in 1842 to produce textile machinery, Riverdam was a key piece in the area’s textile industry. I drew inspiration from various historical photos of Biddeford’s Mill District and composed them all (like this one here, courtesy of the McArthur Public Library!) The final product was a mix between honoring the original architecture and the people who worked in the space years ago. My favorite element is the old smokestack that serves as an icon for Biddeford’s skyline.

What is your favorite (or most challenging!) part of the design or painting process?

This is a funny one. Every project ALWAYS has a unique plot twist! This project was smooth sailing, so when I set up my projector to begin painting, I thought: “where’s the plot twist?” Suddenly, one of Riverdam’s residents opened the hallway door with two playful dogs on-leash. I had no clue it was a dog-friendly building! All the residents (and their dogs!) that I met while painting were great. It’s been an honor to add art to your community. Y’all rock!

Thanks, Mike, for your inspiring work over at Riverdam! Follow Mike on TikTok and Instagram to learn more and for sneak peeks at some of his upcoming projects.