“The reason I came here to Port Hardy is a good story,” said Mehran (Raz) Razmpoosh as he finished painting his beautiful new ocean-themed mural at the North Coast Trail Backpackers Hostel in Port Hardy. “I heard about Chemainus, all the murals, and it was pretty interesting how it was this well-known town of murals. I wanted to have a chance to be one of the artists in this famous town, so I went to the town hall and asked if there was any wall space available.”
Raz noted he was then told by the town that “maybe in five years, and only if there is a new building in town, then you might have a chance.”
His reply was, “Never mind, I’m going to make my own Chemainus.”
From there, Raz decided to hit the road. He had always been curious about what life was like on the north end of the island, so that ended up being the direction that he chose to go.
When he first arrived in town, he stayed at the Quarterdeck Inn (then known as IV’s), and the owners asked him what exactly he could do with their ‘ugly looking’ fuel tank outside.
“I’ll turn it into a beautiful fish tank,” said Raz, “and the owner told me ‘okay, you got the job’.”
After that first mural, he moved on to painting the backside of the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce, and then decorated the inside of the local swimming pool with his artwork.
Ever since he arrived in Port Hardy, Raz has kept himself busy over the years by adding more and more murals on more and more walls around town as he comes and goes.
Raz, who was born in Tehran, Iran in 1960, has been an artist pretty much his entire life, which he credits to his father’s influence, as he was an established artist himself.
He left Iran in 1980 and never looked back, travelling throughout Europe and then Canada, creating artwork along the way to support himself.
He said he can’t think of what his favourite mural that he has made over the years would be, but said he loves doing wildlife inspired pieces and that he truly just enjoys the process of creating.
“Murals have a life just like us, they get old, they get sick, and they get knocked down,” he said, reminiscing on his previous work. “It’s happened to many of my walls.”
Now that he has finished his latest piece at the backpacker hostel, he’s moved on to painting a lighthouse on the side of the new Baptist church on Elk Drive.
“Because I’m working on a church, my group of friends like to call me ‘Razangelo’,” he laughed, noting the new nickname was inspired by Michelangelo, who famously painted the Sistine Chapel. “It’s great, and I like that they are putting this name on me.”