‘If These Walls Could Talk’: Former California tagger uses talents to make his mark in different way

Some of Colton Valentine’s murals have gone viral on social media

A local muralist has come a long way since his humble and, sometimes, troubled beginning. Colton Valentine's work has gone viral on social media.

SAN ANTONIO – At one point, Colton Valentine got his kicks by using a can of spray paint to make his presence known.

The southern California native admits he once was a tagger, someone who illegally scrawled graffiti all over signs and walls.

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But he says after moving to Texas in 2015, he was convinced that he should use his natural artistic abilities in a different, more legitimate way.

“My father was really good at art and he didn’t do anything with it. So my grandma was, like, ‘Stop wasting your talent,”” he said.

Valentine decided to try his hand at painting murals.

Valentine uses spray paint to create his realistic murals. (KSAT 12 News)

While he still uses spray paint to make his mark all across the city, his work now is much more appreciated.

“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “You can’t just jump in and, like, think you know what you’re doing.”

While getting everything just right took a lot of practice, he says getting permission to display his work on the walls of businesses took a lot of persistence.

“I would ask them if I could paint murals on their walls and I think I got, like, 29 no’s,” Valentine said. “It’s crazy because now some of those same places that told me no have actually hit me up to do artwork.”

Some of his work is in especially high demand.

A mural of the late rapper Nipsey Hussle has become a spot for Instagram photos. The words in his beard are graffiti that were not part of the original design. (KSAT 12 News)

What have become iconic paintings of rappers Cardi B and the late Nipsey Hussle on a wall just north of downtown have attracted attention from around the globe.

This is how the Cardi B mural originally appeared before Valentine added a coronavirus-related mask. (KSAT 12 News)

Thanks to social media, the images on a building on San Pedro Avenue near Interstate 35 have gone viral on social media sites such as Instagram.

“Some people have come through and they’re, like, ‘Yo, I drove four hours just to come see this mural of Nipsy Hussle or Cardi B,’” he said.

Valentine later added a mask to his portrait of rapper Cardi B amid the coronavirus pandemic. (KSAT 12 News)

The attention has come as a welcome surprise and a boost of confidence for Valentine.

A man who, just a few years ago, had no real plans for his future now can’t stop thinking of ways to make it better and brighter.

About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.