Danielle Mastrion: Beautifies Cities And Empowers Communities With Immortalizing Murals

Danielle Mastrion is a New York-based artist whose beautiful and intriguing murals can be seen in many major cities worldwide, particularly New York and the surrounding boroughs. Mastrion started her career as a traditional oil painter but later switched to working with spray paints to create her signature murals that range from commemorating individuals, landmarks, and social issues to immortalising iconic figures from Notorious B.I.G, Prince, and The Beastie Boys to Maya Angelou to name a few.

Danielle Mastrion
Danielle Mastrion

I want to use my gift for good, tell stories, and let my art be able to help, change and educate

Danielle Mastrion

Mastrion’s mural work extends to a wide variety of public and private commission work. She has worked with major brands such as Nike, Starbucks, Mass appeal and the iconic Spike Lee – having been the cover artwork artist for the 30th anniversary of Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” as well as painting several murals for the anniversary and featured paintings inside Criterion Collection’s DVD release including (outside of Lee’s 40 Acres & A Mule studio in Brooklyn).

Yet, for Mastrion, public art is more than just making a space look nice. It’s about using art to unite and educate people and make them feel invested in their community. For her most recent project, Mastrion was commissioned by Brooklyn Pilsner to paint a mural that celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and creativity on the bricks of London’s Brixton. This mural has a twist as Mastrion used paint infused with Brooklyn Pilsner’s new brew to transport locals to the New York borough of Brooklyn. This is especially significant because Brooklyn is officially twinned with the London Borough of Lambeth, of which Brixton is a part. The mural is located at 500 Brixton Road, London.

We caught up with Danielle to learn more about her new mural work, what inspires her, and what is next for her as an artist.

Q: Hi Danielle, Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us. Can you please introduce yourself for those who do not know?

A: Hello! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. My name is Danielle Mastrion, and I am a painter and mural artist from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been painting murals both locally and internationally since 2012. My training is in classical oil painting, and using this knowledge, I taught myself to translate my brush skills to my work in aerosol.

I’m best known for my murals that showcase cityscapes, street relics and heavy portraiture, often focusing on social justice, specifically women’s rights and youth education. Some of my most iconic art includes commissions for brands such as Netflix, and Nike, a makeover of Spike Lee’s production offices and my large-scale portrait of The Notorious B.I.G.

Danielle Mastrion portrait of The Notorious B.I.G
Q: You have been painting murals both locally & internationally since 2012. Can you tell us how you started in arts, how art has played a role in your life, and why you decided to become an artist?

A: I have been drawing and painting my entire life. There wasn’t a time as a child that I wasn’t drawing. My mother saw this and always enrolled me in art classes – both during school and any programs after school. My mother is an art lover too, and we would spend our weekends visiting different museums around New York, so I had exposure to art from a very young age.

And growing up in NYC in the 1980s, I was always surrounded by graffiti. So, my experience of art was a mix of the traditional fine art painting that I saw in books, galleries and museums, alongside the bright and bold colours of graffiti that I saw on the streets around my city. I went to a high school for art before attending the Parsons School of Design and receiving my BFA, and have been pursuing painting my entire life since.

I don’t think I decided to become an artist. I believe I was born an artist. It’s a way you see the world, a way you look at everything around you, and I was born with a skill and talent that I’ve been lucky to refine and practice my entire life.

Danielle Mastrion - The Beastie Boys
Danielle Mastrion – The Beastie Boys
Q: You are a classically trained oil painter who transitioned your work to aerosol. Your themes range from cityscapes and street relics to immortalises figures in public spaces. Can you tell us more about your practice, the difference between working with oil paint and aerosol, and your inspiration and the creative process of a mural?

A: Working with oil and working with aerosol are two completely different things, completely different mediums, but I believe my background in oil painting made picking up a can of spray easier. As one of my mentors told me, I already knew how to paint. I knew how to use colour, and I had the speed. I always created large-scale art and painted with my whole body; I knew composition, light and shadow. So, I wasn’t necessarily re-learning how to paint when I picked up a can.

I was learning a new medium (aerosol), but I already knew how to paint. However, they are two completely different experiences. Oil painting is a slow, laborious process. It takes a very long time for the paint to dry, you can always re-work it by applying oil, and it never really dries completely. You work in layers; you build up colours and textures. You need oil or another medium mixed with the paint. You can’t use oil paint alone. Aerosol is the complete opposite.

It is quick, fast, dries in minutes, and the colours are pre-mixed. You can blend colours together, but you cannot mix colours together to create new colours like you can with oil paint. Aerosol can be applied to almost every surface. It’s more practical for exterior work. Metal, brick, wood, vinyl – aerosol can go over anything, really. It’s an entirely different medium.

Danielle mastrion -shirley chisholm state park enterance mural 2019
Danielle mastrion -shirley chisholm state park enterance mural 2019

My creative process varies. It depends if I’m working on a commission or a personal piece. Personal pieces tend to let me ‘play’ a little more, experimenting with different styles and techniques. Commissions are more straightforward.

I always research and learn as much as possible about the area I’m painting in to learn the history.

The people, nature, the environment, what has shaped this neighbourhood, or this place? I always want my murals to tell the stories of their surroundings. Whether that’s with people, landmarks, the landscape, the cityscape, nature, or something else, I also want my murals to be educational so people can learn something about the subject or the area from the elements on the wall. My creative process, therefore, involves a lot of reading, conversations and learning, and in turn, this forms my sketches and renderings.

Q: Art has always been a powerful tool for social justice and education. You have dedicated your time and energy to making a difference by working with organisations focusing on gender equality, inclusive safety, women’s rights, and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Can you tell us more about this side of your work and how it influences your art?

A: I want to use my gift for good, tell stories, and let my art be able to help, change and educate. Yes, it’s always nice to paint a beautiful image that makes people happy, but I feel like I’m wasting my talent if I don’t put it toward something good. Telling stories, sharing history, and giving a voice.

I also know that it can be easier to share a message, especially if that image is eye-catching and engaging. I find that if you can discuss and present complex issues and topics beautifully, people are more open to having those conversations and discussions.

Danielle Mastrion-Mike Brown Memorial Brooklyn
Danielle Mastrion – Mike Brown Memorial Brooklyn NYC
Q: Your mural in the heart of London’s Brixton is the first of its kind to use beer as paint. Can you tell us how this collaboration with Brooklyn Brewery came about? What was it like to paint with beer? And what is the essence of this mural? Why is it important?

A: I was contacted by Brooklyn Brewery, who were looking for a Brooklyn-based artist to help launch the brewery’s newest beer, Brooklyn Pilsner, by painting a Brooklyn-inspired mural in London’s Brixton with beer-infused paint. Immediately, I thought that it was a great collaboration – having someone born and raised in Brooklyn representing their home, their borough, in the UK.

I have been familiar with the Brooklyn Brewery for years, decades. They have been a well-known local business in Brooklyn (Williamsburg, to be exact!) for as long as I can remember. So, I thought it was the perfect match-up.

Danielle Mastrion - Brooklyn Brewery 500-Brixton Road
Brooklyn Brewery 500 Brixton Road

The mural represents the essence of Brooklyn. The things that make me feel like I’m ‘home’. There are a lot of little symbols that you will recognise if you are from Brooklyn. The water tower, the smoke stack, the famous parachute jump tower in Coney Island, the hoop earrings that most Brooklyn girls wear, the bodegas (grocery stores), the pigeon… There are many little gems in there that my friends in Brooklyn saw and loved.

When I was in Brixton, I realised that they really are sister boroughs – Brooklyn and Brixton. I felt right at home with the vibe, energy, and flow. When I was there, I actually found out they are officially twinned as neighbourhoods with an energy that inspires others, fostering communities of culturally diverse creatives. You can really sense the collective creative action towards social progress brewing in both.

I love that the mural was infused with the beer we were launching, and painting with Brooklyn Pilsner was interesting! It was fun – the large areas of colour are all painted with a mix of paint and pilsner! It was nice to infuse Brooklyn Brewery into a mural that represented Brooklyn, but also create something aligned to the values both neighbourhoods share – creativity, inclusivity and diversity.

Q: You were the cover artwork artist for the 30th Anniversary of Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” you painted several murals for the anniversary and murals that covered the outside of Spike Lee’s 40 Acres & A Mule studio in Brooklyn. Can you tell us about the process of creating these murals, how the situation came about, and what it was like to contribute to this film’s iconic milestone?

A: Working with Spike Lee was a dream of mine from the first time I saw one of his movies. The way he represented Brooklyn and his visual art direction, all of it resonated with me.

I began working with Spike Lee 5 years ago when I was recommended to him by a friend of mine and asked to custom paint a series of sneakers that he was giving the cast of She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix. That was the first time I worked with Spike. Shortly after that, he asked me to paint a custom pair of sneakers for him to wear to the NBA All-Star basketball game.

Danielle Mastrion – Cover and memorial mural – for the 30th Anniversary of Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”

After that, he asked me to paint a tribute mural for Prince at his Prince tribute ‘Purple People” block party, which took place in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. That mural is still up. After that, I was contacted by both Criterion Collection and Spike Lee to paint a mural on the outside of his studio in Brooklyn. That would be shot for the 30th Anniversary DVD of “Do The Right Thing”.

Criterion Collection 30th Anniversary of “Do The Right Thing” DVD

I was also hired to paint two paintings for the inside DVD sleeve, making this a three-part project. Criterion Collection presented Spike with a few artist options, and because of my previous work experience with him, he selected me for the DVD.


Once that project was completed, Spike asked me to come back and do two more “Do The Right Thing” projects – one is a memorial mural for the actors who passed on the actual block. Where “Do The Right Thing” was filmed in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, the other was to continue those memorial portraits on the outside of his studio, side-by-side with the mural used on the DVD. It has been a long, great working relationship. Spike even purchased the two paintings that were used in the DVD sleeve for his personal art collection! Thank you forever, Spike Lee, for these opportunities.

Q: They say the studio is the sacred temple of creativity. What are three things you can’t live without in your studio?

A: As most of my work is exterior mural work, my studio is out on the street.

1) Music 2) Respirator 3) The correct spray paint caps. 

Danielle in action
Q: What’s next for you as an artist?

A: I have several projects coming up in Brooklyn; one is at my High School. Another is in Coney Island, which I am very excited about. I am also mentoring two young international artists as a part of Next Level Global.

Q: Lastly, what does art mean to you?

A: Art is everything. It is my soul. It is how I express myself and how I give back. It is how I teach. It is a universal language that everyone can view and respond to. Art is life.


©2022 Danielle Mastrion, Brooklyn Brewery