The Painted Whale:
Making a Splash in Alaska’s
The Painted Whale, a cultural tourism operation focused on public art, is the first company of its kind in the Kenai Peninsula and state. Owner Justine Pechuzal was a freelance artist teaching and painting murals when she became inspired to explore a business idea focused on sharing stories and art with locals and tourists alike.
Pechuzal connected with the Small Business Development Center to prepare to launch her business and shared, “As a person new to the business world, SBDC helped me feel more confident about launching my mural tour & art experience company, The Painted Whale. Cliff advised me regarding various borough and state regulations so that I felt at ease about the legality of my endeavor. He also shared valuable feedback about the company’s online presence and marketing strategies. Assistance from the SBDC provided one more support in the complex structure a new business needs to succeed!”
What a success it has been! On a Painted Whale tour, visitors enjoy seeing a dozen of the Mural Capital of Alaska’s collection of eye-catching murals and are immersed in the experience as they hear the stories behind the pictures- how the artist came up with the idea, what process is used to make murals, and what the imagery is about. On the 1.5-hour walking tour led by a local artist, participants gain a deeper appreciation for the culture and history of the area, such as the Iditarod Trail, Mt. Marathon Race, and commercial fishing in Alaska.
Pechuzal’s business advisor, Cliff Cochran shared, “Justine has done a remarkable job starting her wall murals walking tour in Seward. She’s done everything, from painting some of the murals herself to creating a detailed budget, writing a business plan, and delivering a highly-acclaimed tour. It’s not common to meet an accomplished artist who’s also good with numbers, too. I’m excited to see her continue to succeed and will sign up for a tour myself, next time I’m in Seward.“