By Robert Jones

Elliott Schuessler’s journey as an artist began when he was in his mid-thirties with an already-established career.

“I had 10 years of corporate experience, and I hated it,” he says. “There was some creative content, but it was all very restricted. I was in Prague launching a PR brand, and I fell in love with the city. I was in a good place personally, and everything that excited me just kept me coming back to the Lennon Wall.”

The wall, which is across the street from the French embassy, has been recognized as a symbol of freedom in Prague since the 1960s, when anti-government messages were painted on it in response to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. After John Lennon’s assassination in 1980, tributes to the artist began to appear on the wall. Song lyrics promoting the ideals of peace and love that he represented became a defining feature of the wall, and it became known by his name.

“It was just so bright and colorful, and there were always a couple of guys playing Beatles songs on their guitars. It felt like you could do whatever you wanted to do there, as long as it was fun. It was just the perfect setting.

The wall called to him with its atmosphere — and with its opportunity.

“The first time I ever painted on it, I took the logo for the brand I was building and made a huge stencil at the hostel I was staying at,” he says. “I bought two cans of white spray paint and didn’t look back — I spent two and a half months painting different stuff on that wall every single day.

It even became a slightly self-supporting enterprise, Schuessler recalls: “I put out a hat with a sign that said “Help me pay for my paint” and got enough to buy two cans the next day.”

Painting gave Schuessler the sense of freedom that he had long been looking for, and when he returned to San Diego he invested what money and support he had into art supplies. As he transitioned from walls to canvas, his style quickly evolved to convey a sense of life through strong textures and bold movements. One tool he strictly avoids — the paintbrush.

“I find brushes to be really restrictive,” he says. “They’re so delicate, and I don’t feel the freedom with them that I do with spray paint or scrapers. They’re just not as fun to use.”

With his experience in marketing, Schuessler quickly built a network within the art world and began selling his work at markets and fairs across the West Coast. He relocated to Nashville in 2021.

“There is so much change here. I can watch the skyline changing from my window, and there are cranes everywhere. Obviously I want it to change for the better, but just watching the process is so exciting.”

Whether it’s The Lennon Wall in Prague or construction cranes in Nashville, Schuessler’s motivation is rooted in the excitement he sees and feels in the world around him.

“That’s why I’m wanting to work with designers, because I feel like you can plan the whole space. You’re not just painting a picture; you’re planning a whole environment, and I want to be a part of that excitement. It keeps me motivated to know that my work can find that kind of a home.”

To see more of Schuessler’s work, you can follow him on instagram @realdailylife. Scan the QR code to get information on his next solo show, coming in mid-April to downtown Nashville.