Children’s book author Dallas Clayton’s mural was recently unveiled at Union Market. (Rachel Orr/For Express)

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted on Oct. 10, weeks before allegations against Dallas Clayton began to emerge.

Instagram is on a mission to “turn walls in cities around the world into colorful beacons inspiring #KindComments.” To that end, it has partnered with artists to paint murals in select cities. Washington’s Union Market (1309 5th St. NE) is home to one of those murals, created by children’s book author Dallas Clayton, who unveiled his work with the help of local artists earlier this month. Clayton invited anyone who wanted to help him paint the mural, so I picked up a paintbrush and worked alongside him as he answered a few questions

How did Instagram approach you to do this #KindComments wall?
I tour around and paint murals on things all over. Instagram and I have been friends for a while. They were doing this mural campaign, #KindComments, and they reached out. It just felt like a perfect synergy.

I have a tattoo of your art. How do you feel about people tattooing your work on them?
I am amazed every time it happens. It’s really kind of a beautiful thing. I live in Los Angeles and a lot of people there are actors or pretenders for a living, ya know? And sometimes when you’re a fan of them, you’re not really a fan of them. You’re a fan of someone they played a long time ago. And so, I feel like when people say that they’re a fan or that they like what I do, it’s saying that they like what I believe in. … It doesn’t feel like if you had a tattoo of Teen Wolf, something that’s a fictional creation.


Dallas Clayton works on his mural at Union Market. (Rachel Orr/For Express)

What’s your favorite way to spread kindness?
I think just through humanity, right? Like, just try to interact with everyone on a daily basis, the way I hope they would interact with me. To try to shake people up at every possible turn. To get them out of what they think a traditional interaction should be. Maybe even to recognize that the smallest transactions, that even within the grocery store, or the line at the DMV, that there’s still joy to be made.

What is something that keeps you up at night?
If you mean something that I think about often, you know, the fact that this could all be a hologram. The fact that we don’t really know why we’re here or what we’re doing or that we spend all this time instituting and then trying to keep systems operational that ultimately built a greater illusion. Not to get too trippy. Why are we here? What are we doing?

What was your favorite children’s book as a kid?
I really like [Shel Silverstein’s] “The Giving Tree.” I think it’s super-important, but I think Dr. Seuss is also a real genius.

How do you feel about having been compared to a modern-day Dr. Seuss?
I do not mind that in that bands don’t mind being compared to The Beatles, I’m sure. So, it’s hilarious, but I’ll take it.