Last year was a whirlwind for fine artist Liane Ricci, but not in the pandemic-sort-of-way it was for many of us. Over the past few months, Ricci found her artistic career escalating to a level only dreamed of by many aspiring artists. Spending the year perfecting her craft of painting large-format artwork, she now has introduced custom hand-painted mural panels to the interior design marketplace.

“I always had my sights set on becoming an entrepreneur,” Ricci says from the office of her new downtown Durham studio, which has a small showroom for meeting with interior designers and a workroom with lots of wall space for hanging up the in-progress customized painted wallpapers and wall murals slated to hang in homeowners’ residences all over the country. “I couldn’t wait to ditch the side jobs and stay true to my intention,” she adds. But it was those side jobs and the resulting work experience that gave Ricci the entrepreneurial foundation to support her artistic passions. She worked in a costume house in New York City and in several graphic design positions before she made her way to Los Angeles in 2004. By that time, she was already displaying her artwork regularly in NYC gallery Susan Eley Fine Art, showing her contemporary paintings focused on color and structure. “I’m fascinated by color relationships and the tension between form and line in painting,” she says. “An alluring use of color can invigorate and emphasize a fanciful quality, creating works that are both timeless and contemporary.”

While in LA, Ricci took a position as an in-house designer for a carpet and rug showroom, where she immersed herself in textile design and began developing initial ideas for her own brand. “That was when I first got the idea of turning my skills into a business,” she says. She started by replicating her paintings into repeats of rugs and fabrics that were suitable for home design projects.

Ready to add depth to her art education, she traveled to Italy to enroll in a fresco workshop. The massive scale of the frescoes she saw there stuck with her. Thus began her love affair with large-format art, which drove her to leave LA, return to North Carolina, and open Ricci Studio in 2017, where she began hand-painting custom wallpapers and digitally printing some of her other designs. From there, she launched custom-painted muralpapers in 2020, selling to the trade nationwide and catching the attention (on Instagram, of all places) of internationally known design curation guru David Sutherland, who offered to represent Ricci’s work in his showrooms. She traveled to Sutherland’s Dallas showroom to begin installation of her most recently introduced muralpaper, Tectonic, while simultaneously installing other mural panels in a Dallas decorator showhouse. In her studio today, she works diligently on a second Tectonic muralpaper that will soon be installed in Sutherland’s Florida showroom.

“The Tectonic mural grew from sketches and photographs that I took while traveling through the village of Geiranger in Norway,” Ricci says. “A steep mountain road weaves through the village, leading to the most extraordinary views over the fjord. The colors and textures of the terrain are truly breathtaking.”

Since Ricci has shifted much of her focus from art galleries to interior design, she plans to release two more digitally printed and two custom-painted wallpapers this year. Above all, her design inspiration is driven by art. “My art practice is a steadfast quest for  beauty. I want the work to evoke elegance, playfulness, and adventure in imaginative and innovative ways,” she says.