Photography by Yuvie Styles.

The Lakewood mural at Gaston and Abrams. Psychedelic stairs at Mockingbird Station. A cityscape at Shops at Park Lane. Deep Ellum’s Fire Station 03. 

There’s a good chance you’ve seen one of 33-year-old Mariel Pohlman’s murals. 

Bright doodles, detailed sunsets, colorful Southwestern pastoral, funky pets — there’s a certain joy to her work. She’s become one of the most prolific muralists in the city, painting everything from private homes to corporate offices to crosswalks.

“I’ve lived in Dallas for awhile now. I’ve gotten to know all these different neighborhoods and then to be able to kind of put my mark on these public places and have so many people just be able to stumble upon it,” she says. “That’s been really cool.”

She spent her childhood on a cattle ranch in Portales, a small town on the edge of eastern New Mexico. Her mother’s family had lived there for several generations. Pohlamn’s father, an accountant by trade, left Houston to help run her grandfather’s hardware store. 

“That was really a great place to grow up and spend a lot of time out in nature,” she says. 

Then Walmart moved into town, and the hardware store closed. Pohlman’s father went back to his career as an accountant, and the family moved to East Dallas for a job when Pohlman was 11 years old.

She studied accounting in college. Her father had done it, and she had the mind for it.

“I was trying to pick a major in college that was practical and that I knew I’d be able to get a job. That’s really why I picked it,” she says.

She worked as an auditor and then technology consultant for three years. But people often told her she didn’t seem like an accountant. 

“As I got into that career path, I just didn’t really see a future that I was very interested in,” she says.

So she quit.

“It was just a very personal decision. So I knew that I couldn’t really wait for someone to give me permission,” she says. “I just needed to do it for myself.”

With a one-way ticket to Hong Kong and no plan, Pohlman spent the next year abroad. There were four months in southeast Asia. Somewhere in Vietnam, she bought a sketchbook. She’d only ever taken one art class.

“That was really the turning point in me having a purpose for the traveling and way to process all of my experiences being solo,” she says.

By the time she worked her way to Amsterdam, she had a book full of sketches. The scans of her illustrations became the base of her new website. She was going to be an illustrator.

“I basically just made business cards and made a website and then came back. And I just started telling people that I was starting a business,” she says. “I really didn’t have much of a plan other than just having confidence in myself.”

She did a presentation about her artwork at Common Desk, where she had worked out of for the last bit of her 9-to-5 job. The coworking space asked her to paint a mural on the side of Ross Avenue’s Fiction Coffee, owned by Common Desk.

She finished the Christmas mural with ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year” in 2017. People started flocking to the coffee shop for photos. The Dallas Morning News wrote about her art. She’s repainted the side of Fiction Coffee several times since then.

“It was a little bit challenging because every project, I was figuring things out for the first time, and I would get an opportunity and say yes, and then, you know, have to come up with a plan,” she says.

There was a lot of worrying the first year or two while she transitioned into art as a career. Was she going to be able to support herself? Would the projects dry up?

“When the pandemic started, I think that was one of the scariest times because I just thought everything was going to come to a stop, and I had lots of projects get cancelled,” she says.

Her client list has since grown to include Lyft, Heineken, Walmart and Frost Bank.

The challenge has changed from managing finances to being able to manage her time and health. She’s connected with other local artists for collaboration and support. And she’s carved out time to travel.

“It was about three and a half years that I was just working so hard that I was almost scared to step away,“ she says.

She spent this past January in Argentina, working on her Spanish. And there’s a trip planned for Colombia in the summer.

“It’s been great to get back into traveling,” she says. “It’s really one of my main sources of inspiration.”