Internationally-renowned Detroit muralist shares stories behind her work in Roanoke

Internationally-renowned muralist Louise Jones (née Chen), aka Ouizi, couldn’t stay away from Northeast Indiana for too long. Nearly a year after her last installation called “Big Peony” on The Landing in Fort Wayne, Jones returned to the region to install downtown Roanoke's first mural in decades. 

Jones’ new mural is at Reusser, a digital agency located at 150 S. Main St. in Roanoke. Thanks to a partnership between the Huntington County Visitor and Convention Bureau and Reusser, Jones was selected for her expertise in large-scale floral mural installations and was inspired by common Indiana flowers, including peonies and black-eyed Susans.

Muralist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones painted the side of Reusser, a digital agency located at 150 S. Main St. in Roanoke.

Born and raised in Santa Monica, Cali., Jones currently lives in Detroit. She says her affinity for botanical subjects began with fond memories of picking figs with her grandmother. This passion grew after she was introduced to the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe.

We sat down with Jones to learn more about her signature botanical style, life as a traveling artist, and her mural in Roanoke.

Detroit-based artist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones paints a mural in downtown Roanoke inspired by common Indiana flowers, including peonies and black-eyed Susans. 


IFW: Why did you become a muralist?

LJ: Well, that is sort of a long story, but I'll give you the short of it. I studied art in school, drawing and painting. I went to the University of California in Santa Cruz, and I knew I always wanted to be an artist. In many cases, artists must go to an art school and get a graduate degree. I didn’t want to do that. We couldn't afford it anyway, so, I said, “I'm just going to make my own way.” I ended up hustling for a while in LA. Then I fell in with this awesome artists crowd of bicycle nerds, punks, and musicians. My friends were doing a project in Detroit, and they invited me to come to be a part of it. That is when I fell in love with Detroit. I started taking whatever gigs I could. One of those projects available was a mural. So, I jumped on it. That was around 2014. I got a lot of work in Detroit, like at the airport and some coffee shops, before I even moved there a few years later. 

Detroit-based artist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones paints a mural in downtown Roanoke inspired by common Indiana flowers, including peonies and black-eyed Susans.

IFW:  What was it like installing your first mural?

LJ: It was exhilarating. I would say the first one that I did was this freestanding wall in the middle of the city in Detroit. I only had like a few hours to do it because I was supposed to fly back home to LA the next day. So in the middle of the night, I was working on it. I had my friend drive up and put his headlights on the wall, and I painted it through the night.

Detroit-based artist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones paints a mural in downtown Roanoke inspired by common Indiana flowers, including peonies and black-eyed Susans.

IFW: What is the process like?

LJ: For the most part, I used to do my sketches by hand. Then I started doing more illustrative stuff, and then I moved into more scientific illustration. The concept is put together with real photos, and I just like mocked it up in Photoshop. Then I work directly off of this sketch. But really, it's just photos that are pieced together. If I open up the Photoshop file, there are like 50 layers or something! It’s complex. 

Muralist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones painted the side of Reusser, a digital agency located at 150 S. Main St. in Roanoke.

IFW: Why do you focus on botanicals?

LJ: I started painting flowers because of my love of fashion and textiles, and I was copying a lot of floral patterns. Botanical murals were the first thing I started doing. I just love how the old wallpapers and textiles are like screen printed almost. So I tried to copy that idea, and I incorporated it into different concepts. Then eventually I just took my botanical illustrations and started painting that everywhere. In 2014, I didn’t see anyone else doing it. Then people ended up being like, “Oh, yeah, you're the girl who paints flowers.” At first, I kind of hated it because I didn't want to fall into this stereotypical female feminine artist that just paints flowers, but I know that I'm not just a one-dimensional artist. So, I did it anyway. It took off, and people love it. Then I just started getting work all over the country.

Muralist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones painted the side of Reusser, a digital agency located at 150 S. Main St. in Roanoke.

IFW: Why did you decide to come back to Northeast Indiana?

LJ: Well, I previously worked with local artist, muralist, and public art leader Alex Hall (of Art This Way in Fort Wayne). She was the person who forwarded me the contact info for this project. Also, I just had a good time working in Fort Wayne before. I like working in small towns. It’s so chill. There are fewer interruptions, and I can also connect and chat with people, too. People are more down-to-earth. People here are friendlier. I feel really supported. People are like, “This is something cool happening in our town. Let's all take really good care of this visiting artist.” I feel really special. It’s also really well organized. The building is nice, and everything is like the setup for me. It’s like the best situation.

Detroit-based artist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones paints a mural in downtown Roanoke inspired by common Indiana flowers, including peonies and black-eyed Susans.

IFW: What do you want people to know about your mural in Roanoke? 

LJ: I want the community to learn, if they don’t know already, about Indiana botanicals, and that peonies are Indiana’s state flower. I want them to learn about and care about the other flowers that are in Indiana, too. Education is something I try to do every time I do a mural in different cities. It’s fun to research the location and their particular flowers and plants.

Muralist Louise 'Ouizi' Jones painted the side of Reusser, a digital agency located at 150 S. Main St. in Roanoke.

See Louise Jones’ Mural in Downtown Roanoke

The Huntington County Visitor Bureau and Reusser encourage the public to visit the mural site located at 150 S. Main St, Roanoke or venture out on the Huntington County Mural trail that features 14 murals located across the county. Details on the artists and locations can be found at visithuntington.org.

This story is part of a blog series with Reusser.