ASHLAND Hager Elementary students returned from break to be greeted by their favorite characters painted on the walls outside the library.

Outside of the library, a new mural was painted over break by Madeline Tipton.

Tipton is a local small business owner and 2017 graduate of Ashland. Kelsey Price, Hager’s library media specialist, had Tipton as a student.

Price decided she wanted a mural to encourage students to come into the library. She wanted a unique space that is inviting.

Price said it is easy to get students to check out a book to read once they are inside. Once inside, the students also have access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) bins and a maker space to build and learn. They also have a book exchange where students can bring in books from home and switch them for ones other students have brought in. 

Libraries have become more than shelves of books. They are places for people to gather, said Price.

The mural is bringing new excitement to what’s already going on in the library. The response from the students has been great; they have been excited to see the new mural as they visit the library after break, said Price.

Tipton said the design took a few hours to mock up on her iPad. Once she began the process of putting the art on the walls, it was about a five- to six-day process. 

Price told Tipton to make it colorful and fun, then gave her creative freedom. Tipton asked for a list of the students’ favorite book characters and included them in the design.

The goal was to give kids an immersive experience that was magical and whimsical, said Tipton. She wanted it to be something different that what they would normally see.

Price was Tipton’s math teacher when she was at Oakview Elementary. 

“Even as a student she was always very motivated and, of course, she was very talented …so this doesn’t surprise me,” said Price of Tipton’s artistic ability and business prowess.

“It’s kind of just full circle, because art class and my art teachers really shaped who I am,” said Tipton. “Going to college I literally had no idea what I wanted to do. I wasn’t going to go into art, I was going to go into teaching.”

Tipton found that teaching wasn’t for her and moved into the communications field while studying at Morehead State University. Her plan was to work with non-profits and get her MBA. 

However, following graduation in 2020, Tipton moved back to the area and began commissions. Art and painting were always hobbies, she said. A friend of her mom’s took a chance on her, believed in her and asked her to complete her first mural. 

Since, Tipton has created her own business, The Tipton Creative, where she primarily paints murals as well as other commissions and brand designing. Tipton shares her work on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok under the username @thetiptoncreative. 

From her time as an elementary student to thinking she would teach, Tipton’s path has brought her back into a school setting.

“I wanted to help kids and now this is like another way,” said Tipton.

“It really meant a lot to me that she saw the value in my work to support my business,” said Tipton. “Artists in general aren’t always seen as a respected occupation or people expect artists to work for free, and so seeing that respect from her and also the recognition from the community.”

Price said she already told Tipton to be planning for next year. She wants to wrap the mural inside the library.

Price and Tipton were complimentary about the community support they have both received. The library was given a grant through the Ashland Kentucky Urban Arts Project, said Price.

“My library has been very blessed,” said Price.

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