artist painting a mural
Jade Small
Jade Small
January 28, 2024 ·  3 min read

These Artists Paint Gigantic Bookcase On Side Of Apartment Building Featuring the Locals Favorite Books

Where did street art originate from? Art is an age-old form of expression. It is used to bring communities and people of all walks of life together through its vibrant use of colors and thought-provoking imagery.

Street art originated with tagging or scratching names or messages of importance on street walls. It can be dated back to the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, it inspired people like Keith Haring who drew chalk drawings in the New York City subway systems to take it further by creating art. Not just in the form of tagging or scratching, but masterpieces that subliminally provoked emotion and thought in the viewer.

Jan Is De Man is a Dutch mural artist known for creating incredible illusion murals. His artworks are not only pleasing to look at but thought-provoking at the same time!

Literature Themed Mural in Utrecht
Image credits: janisdeman

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Art on an anonymous building

Recently, Jan created a charming mural on the side of a building in Utrecht that is not only inspiring people but bringing them together. He teamed up with a graffiti writer and tattoo artist Deef Feed and together they transformed the anonymous building’s side wall into a marvelous bookcase that looks almost real! The best part of the mural is that all the books featured in the mural were suggested by the local residents of the building and community. 

Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents' Favorite Books
Image credits: janisdeman

Jans’s friends, who live in the building, said that they had been asking Jan to create a mural for quite some time. However, his original idea was quite different from the bookcase. Jan originally wanted to paint a large smiley-face on the side of the building. Why? Well, research had shown that one’s mood drastically changes when seeing a smile. However, after meticulously studying the shape of the building Jan decided to settle for the bookcase. That was when he called his friend Deef Feed. Jan had worked with him in the past on other projects to help make this one happen.

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Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents' Favorite Books
Image credits: stefanieweijsters

Bringing together a community rich in culture and diversity

Jan has also reported that where the building and mural are located lies a community that is rich in culture and diversity. This mural was the perfect opportunity for him to reflect the diverse culture of its residents through the books on the shelves. Jan and Deef set out into the community and asked its residents for their favorite book titles. Their plan? To place these books on the mural’s bookshelf! The only condition is that it must not include religious or political titles. So, in the end, the books are a true reflection of the culturally diverse residents in which it is located. The area is boasting literature in eight different languages.

Trompe L'oeil Art by Jan Is De Man
Image credits: janisdeman

We’ve noticed that this project brought people together without pushing it,” says Jan. “They meet each other through books. Regardless of the differences in cultures, regardless of the differences in political points of view. Regardless of being extreme right or extreme left. Books are magical. They tickle your brain. And everyone can read the same book, but feel something different.”

So, it takes the same set of skills, creativity, and discipline to write a book as it does to create a piece of artwork. By fusing his street art with the magic of literature Jan is able to uplift a communities spirit in a positive way, and in true artist style, he managed to sneak in a few smiley faces on a couple of the book spines, just for that extra positive touch and to make sure that all who saw it had a smile.

If you’d like more info on Juan Is Da Man and his art, you can check out his websiteInstagram. and Facebook

Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents' Favorite Books
Image credits: janisdeman

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  1. Street Art: Definition & History.” Study. January 1, 2022
  2. Street Artists Transform an Ordinary Building into a Spectacular Bookcase.My Modern Met. April 19 2019