By Desiree Johnson
Killeen Daily Herald
When you walk into the lobby of Kidz Therapeze in Killeen, a center offering pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy, the first thing you’ll notice is a giant tree painted on the wall. Swirling with browns and yellows, the tree stretches from the baseboard to the ceiling, accented by striking butterflies that seem to float away. On a nearby wall, a similar tree is accented with a flowing river in multiple blue hues.
The murals are the result of one local artist who’s making a difference in the way people decorate, one wall at a time.
Five schools and eight years after Hope Casmer first realized she wanted to be an artist, she graduated from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor with a degree in studio art. She began searching for a way to utilize her major without becoming a “starving artist.” Working as a live-in nanny in Dallas, her first gig fell into her lap when the mother asked her to paint the four kids’ rooms.
After discovering there was serious business in painting walls, Casmer teamed up with her older sister, Heather, who was working as a Web designer.
“We hated each other growing up, but things changed over time,” Casmer said. “She’s a little more structured and logical but still has an artsy side. She has all the business skills. She taught me how to go from art major to businesswoman.”
The two merged to become Presley Design Studio, a company that has made its artistic mark on Central Texas. Heather takes care of the Web services and marketing material, while Casmer concentrates on doing what she loves most: being artistic.
“We really support each other a lot and always fall back on the ethics and morals we were raised on,” Casmer said. “We always work together and go above and beyond what people might expect.”
The scenes Casmer creates are a testament to the family business success. From Tuscan villas to faux finishes, playful Christian scenes to landscapes, it’s apparent Casmer is just plain having fun.
“I’m a total hippie; I’m a big nature lover,” Casmer said. “God has given us all this stuff to work with. It’s great.”
From beginning to end, having a wall painted by Casmer is a personal experience. After getting an idea of what a customer wants, she returns to the drawing board to merge ideas with palette colors.
“I start with an outline or a scribble and go from there,” Casmer said. “I take note of the art around a person’s home and just piece everything together.”
While she’s able to bring a specific idea into fruition, Casmer says she does her best work when customers have no idea what they want.
“A concept is fine, but it’s great if someone has no idea what they want and I get free reign,” Casmer said. “I’m a big fan of the process, I try to get on the wall as soon as possible.”
The result is a piece of artwork that is eye-catching and worth every penny.
“I looked at three different muralists, and she was my favorite. She has such a fun and bubbly personality,” said Kelly Barr, owner and director of Kidz Therapeze. “Her personality came out in her work and shows that she loves what she does.”
Barr was searching for a scene that made her therapy clients feel comfortable, no matter the age.
“I didn’t want the kids to feel like they were walking into a nursery and as soon as they walk through the doors, they are comfortable immediately,” Barr said. “It was a good investment, she definitely made the place.”
Casmer’s work has even taken her to Africa, where she painted a giant Noah’s Ark mural as part of a mission trip.
“We were refurbishing these buildings from the 1940s that were falling apart,” Casmer said. “I ended up doing an entire African-inspired gospel track and Noah’s Ark scene. It was awesome.”
Africa is only one of her destinations. Since her business began in Dallas, Casmer often finds herself traveling back and forth between the Metroplex as well as hitting other destinations.
“I’m single, and I don’t have any kids, so traveling is definitely not a problem for me,” Casmer said. “I will go absolutely anywhere to paint, no problem.”
So why should anyone trust their precious wall space to Casmer? The answer can be found in her well-stocked portfolio.
“It’s all about building up a portfolio,” she said. “Once people can see the work I’ve done, they can trust me enough to put me on their wall.”
And her work is everywhere. Besides private residences, she’s also completed a subway scene just off U.S. Highway 190 and multiple murals in bright colors for schools and businesses such as Kid Therapeze.
For more information, call (254) 773-3770; visit 3320 Pecan Valley Drive, Ste. A in Temple; or check out presleydesignstudio.com.