Tampa artist Cam Parker remembers when Lady Gaga became an icon for him.
It was her performance of Paparazzi at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Between her singing, masterful piano playing with one leg propped up and hanging from a chandelier while bleeding, the performance resonated with Parker as straight-up art.
Gaga became an inspiration for Parker, 33, whose artwork contains themes of feminism, breaking down gender barriers and love. So it's no wonder that when he secured a mural at 1701 N Franklin St. through Robertson Billiards, he chose to do a tribute.
He had planned to use a projection to aid with rendering her likeness but scrapped those plans and, quite remarkably, is working only from a photograph.
With Gaga's sold-out concert coming up Dec. 1 at Amalie Arena, Parker is working feverishly, sometimes logging 16-hour days.
And he's on a mission to get Gaga to take a selfie in front of it.
A few days ago, Parker started blasting the near-finished mural on social media, tagging Gaga on all platforms. He also tweeted an image to the Amalie Arena account and soon after the venue shared it, encouraging people to come take a selfie in front of the mural and tag Lady Gaga to help with Parker's mission.
"I don't want to use the word stalking," Parker said. "But I've been screaming from the top of my social media lungs."
He included his and Gaga's Instagram handles on the mural — @painkillercam and @ladygaga— so they'll both be tagged when people post photos online. He may also create a hashtag. His strategy to lure people to the mural is to give away free prints of his artwork.
The Gaga mural will be Parker's sixth in Tampa Bay (or seventh, he doesn't keep count). The Northern Illinois University graduate moved to Tampa about five years ago and started showing in group exhibitions, where he met fellow artist Bekky Beukes. The two became fast friends, and she encouraged him to start painting murals.
Parker plans to camp out at the mural the day before, of and after the concert, awaiting Gaga's arrival. He says he hopes to get some tears out of her.
"My message to her is that there's someone out here, in Tampa that is willing to spend hundreds of hours on a wall perfecting your likeness," Parker said. "Because you give me so much energy, so much creative juice and so much inspiration, I just want to give something back to you."
Times photographer Alessandra Da Pra contributed to this report. Contact Maggie Duffy at email@example.com.