The Gorilla Blog


artist drawing

I’m one of those artists who enjoys doing a variety of creative art forms. I’m lucky in that my job involves mural painting, airbrushing and cartooning because these are some of my favorite types of art but in my personal life I also enjoy fine art, performance art and photography as well.

Recently I’ve been diving back into photography and rediscovering my love for capturing still images. I don’t know about you but when I am concentrating on a certain type of art, my creative mind doesn’t want to be interrupted with thought or ideas about any other type. It’s very difficult for me to work on photography at the same time I am painting abstracts, for instance. I’m not sure why this is but my mind only wants to concentrate on one creative outlet at a time, which makes my artistic life always look very compartmentalized. If you meet me at one period, I may show you all of my recent photographs, but another times I may have several new canvases to display. Rarely will I have new art from several different expressions.

I wonder how artists such as Picasso could work on so many different types of art pieces at the same time. Some artists seem to have this well of creativity inside them that must come out in whatever form is handy at the time. They can paint a landscape or snap portraits in the same day and still feel a sense of fulfillment.

How about you? What is your creative process? Can you work on several different types of art projects at the same time? What’s your secret?

— Rick

Welcome to the Jungle

Jungle murals and themes are always fun to create, especially when the space is on the smaller side. The surrounding jungle mural can give you a real claustrophobic feeling, similar to what you might feel in the real jungle. In this theme for Highlands Church in Cumming, Georgia, we created a jungle environment that is a mix of cartoon and storybook, with some elements of the realistic. 3-D vines and airbrushed leaves, trees and foliage provide a dense canvas for the jungle feel while 3-D elements such as bamboo awnings, door frames and jungle rock walls give everything an added pop. The sign-in area features lighted jungle torches and coconut candles and a 3-D toucan to welcome the kids into their new space.

Jungle themes and murals are always a great idea for a kid space. The animals and detailed design provides an environment which stimulates a child’s imagination and sense of adventure. It’s a theme which lends itself equally well to small areas and large areas and a wide range of budgets. It’s a good choice for churches, amusement areas and daycares. For a consultation about your space, contact Imagination Atmospheres at 423-762-2932.

Checking Out the Check Ins: Your Themed Sign In Desk

No matter what type of themed environments you utilize in your church, theme park or pediatric office, the first impression most people will get of the experience that awaits them is the Check In or Sign In Desk. An interesting and exciting themed Sign In Desk is a vital part of your facility design, so don’t forget it when planning your project.

Jungle Sign In Desk

The Check In Desk serves many functions. In a church environment it may be where the parents register the children for Sunday or Sabbath school  and drop the babies off for nursery care. In a theme park, the Check In Desk may be where tickets are sold or information is distributed. In a medical environment, the Sign In Desk may be where nurses or other staff members greet patients, gather information and  secure appointments. Whether your venue is a museum, haunted house or restaurant, the Sign In Area is often where your patrons initially gather, so it makes sense that it should be designed for both theming and function.

The design of your Sign In Desk will depend on your needs, your budget and the theme of your environment. Imagination Atmospheres can custom design your Sign In Desk from the ground up. If needed, we can incorporate sound, lighting or other special effects. We can add 3-D sculptures and mural techniques to ensure that your Sign In area draws your customers in and give them a focus for the start of the experience that awaits. If your needs are more simple, Imagination Atmospheres can create smaller kiosks for computer terminals or even theme your existing desk or structure to fit your environment.

Your Sign In area is one of the most vital parts of your themed environment, so don’t neglect it when planning your theming project. Ensure that it has an exciting design that will give your customers a perfect introduction and keep them coming back for more.

Our Location

3-D tree sculpture carving foam

Since 2004 we have created murals and themed environments all over the United States. We have projects in Texas, New Hampshire, California, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana, New York, Florida and South Carolina. We’ll travel to practically any place in the continental USA that needs our work.

Our mural studio is located in Atlanta, Georgia, our theming studio is in Chattanooga, Tennessee and our sales office is in Nashville. This gives us a centralized location to many cities and venues in the southeast and eastern United States. Most eastern United States locations are a few hours to a day’s drive from our studios.

We’d love to create something in your city. Give us a call and let’s make a project!

A Different Kind of Main Street Theme

Today, one of the more popular themes for children’s church areas is the “Main Street” theme. This flexible theme converts a plain, ordinary church hallway into a design that calls to mind a classic, small town Main Street, complete with store fronts, street lights and 3-D signage. The model of this theme, of course, is the Main Street, USA at Disney theme parks. It’s a salute to hometown Americana with it’s retro decor and design with shops such as candy stores, ice cream shops, barber shops, arcades, police and fire stations. You can see several examples of Imagination Atmospheres‘ Main Street designs in our gallery but in this article I’d like to focus on a different kind of Main Street design and one that works quite well in a children’s ministry church environment. This is a “Biblical Main Street” or “Old Jerusalem Town Square,” complete with Biblical-style storefronts, merchants and vendors.

Jerusalem Temple Main Street Stage Design

A worship room stage has become a Jerusalem temple in this Biblical themed environment.

Types of Biblical Main Street Themed Environments

Imagination Atmospheres has created several Biblical Main Street themed environments and we’ve discovered they generally fall into three main design categories:

  • Realistic Design
  • Storybook/Cartoon Design
  • Modern Design with Biblical References

Let’s take a quick look at the different categories.

Realistic Design

A Realistic Design would be one that fabricates an authentic Biblical environment. This type of design is rare in children’s ministries and is usually created for theme parks, stage or film sets. The purpose of this type of theming is to capture the realism of a Biblical landscape. architecture and experience. A professional theatre company producing a Passion play, for example, would have need for this type of environment and would request Imagination Atmospheres to build a village, room or set with the most authentic detail. Creating this type of detail would involve many artists and would require a larger budget and timeline but the end result would be an atmosphere of stunning realism.

Storybook/Cartoon Design

The Storybook/Cartoon Design uses the Realistic Design as a model but creates a visual environment closer to the illustrations in a child’s storybook. Architecture, murals and other details have a more stylized or cartoon feel to them. This design is the most effective for children’s rooms in churches. Depending on the needs of the particular children’s ministry, the design can range from the more realistic look to an extreme, stylized, cartoon version. This allows for a fun, humorous environment that also serves as a teaching tool. Many of the Main Street designs created by Imagination Atmospheres have a Disney or Looney Tunes feel. This allows the environment to appeal to kids and adults alike. Because Imagination Atmospheres custom designs all of their themed environments, your particular theme could be created to focus on preschool, elementary school, middle school or even high school kids.

Often, the Biblical Main Street themed environments reflect the standard Main Street environment in that they also feature “store fronts” and “vendor shops” along the themed street or square. These can feature the humorous as well. Some of the “store fronts” we’ve created in the past are:

  • Delilah’s Barber Shop
  • Joseph’s Carpentry Shop
  • Paul’s Travel Agency
  • Mary & Martha’s Bed and Breakfast
  • Goliath’s Big and Tall
  • Noah’s Pet Shop
  • David’s Music Shop
  • Elijah’s Chariots
  • Matthew’s Tax Service
  • Dr. Luke’s Office
  • Samson’s Gym

The options are limited to your imagination and it’s a great opportunity to completely customize your own themed space.

Cartoon Biblical Main Street

A cartoon Biblical Main Street brings humor and teaching opportunities to kids.

Modern Design With Biblical References

This design isn’t really a “Biblical Land” environment, however, we put it here because it is a modern Main Street theme with Biblical references. This is also currently a popular choice for children’s church areas. The distinguishing characteristic of this theme is that it looks like a contemporary Main Street theme but the store fronts and vendors (and frequently street signs as well) have names that evoke Bible characters and stories. The shop names are usually the same as the ones in the Storybook/Cartoon Design mentioned above, while still incorporating a contemporary design. This gives a humorous level to the atmosphere which kids always appreciate and teachers can utilize for stimulating questions and teaching points. In this type of themed environment, you get the best of both worlds while still being very customizable and personal.

I should mention briefly that it is possible to do the opposite to this design, where you have a Biblical environment with modern references. This is also a great way to incorporate humor. For instance, “Delilah’s Barber Shop” may have murals featuring contemporary barber tools and furnishings in her ancient store front. Often the Storybook/Cartoon Design utilizes this technique to some extent anyway so it is indeed possible to have a theme incorporating all of the different Biblical Main Street design elements.

Childrens Ministry Bible Village

Biblical Main Street store front options are limited only by your imagination.

The Main Street themed environment is a popular design for children’s worship areas today. The added dimension of Biblical style and elements make it a fun and unique way to bring your teaching curriculum to life while giving your kids a fun atmosphere they will want to come back to on a regular basis.

You can start designing and customizing your children’s ministry space today by contacting Imagination Atmospheres for a free consultation.

Heading into 2017

It’s been an interesting 2016 and as we move into 2017 we want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and say thanks for supporting us and allowing us to create some fabulous themed environments for you! We’re getting ready to start planning new themes for 2017. Maybe we will be designing for you this coming year?

We plan on using our blog more often in the coming year.  Our first big article will be pricing for murals and themed environments since that is always an area of concern and we constantly get questions about it. We’ll be letting you know how we come up with pricing, how you can plan a theming budget and how we will work with the budget you have available. Check back soon for that article.

Stay safe out there! Happy 2017!

Main Street With Garage, Park And Train Station

This theme was large enough to cover several areas including nursery, sign-in area, hallways and a worship room. The Main Street theme served as the anchor concept for the other themed areas: a City Park for the nursery, a Train Station sign-in area and a worship room themed as an antique garage. The Main Street themed hallway included individual “shops” such as a pet store, florist, bike shop, barber shop and cafe as well as a Police Station and Fire Department.

Airbrushed murals, wood cutouts, 3-D sculpted pieces and actual found objects included for authenticity. The theme featured two large sculpted trees, 2 marquees, several 3-D signs and a full-scale gas station area.

This custom-designed theme covers a sign-in area and entrance, nursery, hallways and a worship room.

$60K – $75K