It’s hard to imagine anyone drawing a better dragon than Rob Carlos.
“I’m known for my dragons,” Carlos said over coffee.
There is a community in which that particular talent is fully appreciated — fans of fantasy, magic and science fiction — and Carlos is a card-carrying member.
Literally. The Tacoma artist, a transplanted Floridian, has a business card with an infant dragon emerging from an egg. He is a well-known participant in fantasy shows around the country, including Norwescon, an annual convention in SeaTac.
“There’s a Dragoncon in Atlanta that draws 80,000 each year,” Carlos said. “I take 24 paintings, maybe 150 prints, when I go to a convention. One year I sold 100 prints and half the paintings.
“I set up a table and draw people. I’ll take 45 to 90 minutes on each one, and I’ll do 35 a show.”
Then there’s his local gigs, including a once-a-month table set up in the Crescent Moon Gifts shop, which just moved to 2502 Sixth Ave.
“The first Saturday of every month, I have a table and I draw dragons,” Carlos said.
Not just any dragons.
“I draw dragons that reflect the personality of the person I’m drawing for,” Carlos said.
There are plans for him to draw a mural over the front wall of Crescent Moon, a goddess-like woman with hair flowing out and around the doorway.
And a couple of small dragons.
Carlos has been drawing them since he was 9, when his father gave him a copy of “The Hobbit” — the book, not the movie. It introduced the boy to fantasy and to a dragon.
Now 46, Carlos has been drawing dragons ever since. Flying dragons, friendly dragons, terrifying dragons and dragons hidden in leaves, behind the portrait of a beautiful young woman.
Friends with the owners of Crescent Moon Gifts, Carlos took a hard look at the shop’s long outer wall, which overlooked a parking lot and could be seen from Sixth Avenue.
“It was faded yellow-beige and had graffiti on it,” owner Angela Wehnert said. “I thought having four goddesses, one representing each season, would look wonderful.”
Carlos, who had done five murals in his career, agreed to tackle it. Normally, he said, the fee would have been $10,000 — the wall, after all, is 100 feet long. But the Wehnerts were friends, so they worked something out.
Carlos brought on board an apprentice, Adam Ruth. And on the day the shop had its new-location grand opening a few weeks ago, Carlos got unexpected help.
“We had a lot of volunteers, probably a dozen of so, between my age and 5 years old,” Carlos said. “Everyone got a brush and some paint. We put up green for the grass and blue for the sky. Some people stayed 30 minutes. A few 10 hours.
“By the end of the day, we’d covered most of the wall.”
Then came the detail work. Carlos was working from a computer printout of his drawing.
“I drew chalk lines one foot apart all the way down the wall,” he said. “DaVinci did that with all his large works. We had the four goddesses. I put Mount Rainier in. The stag deer? That was an afterthought.”
Along with the deer, a fox was at the feet of one goddess, a cat near another.
There were few problems.
“There are always things you deal with in the middle of the project,” he said. “I look at the mural and my original and see that in the original the fox was furry. On the wall, he’s not.”
“It’s physically exhausting — one day, between cleaning brushes and getting paint I was up and down the scaffolding 80 times. At the end of the day, my legs and shoulders hurt.”
That wasn’t the most difficult part.
“I’m afraid of heights — and being on the scaffold 20 feet up the first day? That took me some time just to get up there, then stand,” Carlos said.
The last thing Carlos did was sign the mural. Apprentice Ruth signed just below his name.
“We left room below our names for the volunteers who helped,” Carlos said. “If they stop by the shop, there’s a brush and a can of white paint waiting. So far, the response to the mural has all been wonderful.
“I’ll do the front wall, with the small dragons, when the weather allows.”