HAVING made his advertising firm a multi-million dollar enterprise, Tyson Hunter has overseen signs for big names such as Coca-Cola, Ford and Nike.
But the son of former long-time Albury shoe store owner Gerard Hunter has not forgotten his Border roots and was rapt his company, Apparition Media, was chosen to hand paint a mural promoting Albury-Wodonga tourism in Melbourne's CBD.
"I thought the artwork looked great; it was humbling it took me back to being a kid in Albury, seeing all the landmarks," Mr Hunter said of the layout which includes Lake Hume, Albury railway station and Bethanga bridge.
"We do a lot of campaigns and a lot of the time there's not the emotional attachment but obviously with this it was special being my hometown.
"It's full circle really, two best mates go away and create a business and eight years later we're doing a promotion for our hometown."
Mr Hunter is referring to Mount Beauty-raised Tristan Minter, his closest friend since they met in year 9 at The Scots School Albury.
After moving to Melbourne and combining on a book, Coffee Encounters, the pair began Apparition Media in 2013 following Mr Hunter seeing a retro-style advert on the side of an old milk bar as he drove home at night.
Adopting that yesteryear realism as a hallmark and bringing artist Hamish McBride on board, the firm touted for business.
"It was bloody hard for the first two years to manage cashflow and workload," Mr Hunter said.
"We turned a profit in the second year but it was minute, it was a good three or four years before we started to make serious money."
A pivotal moment came when Mr Hunter begged his mother Kim Alexander for $36 for a Jetstar flight to Sydney which resulted in landing a deal with Coke.
"There was a lot of luck with timing in what we did, brands we're engaging in authenticity and going back to talking to consumers ," Mr Hunter said.
"It was when McDonald's went from that plastic fantastic look to the more wood-grained cafe style."
The business has 10 to 15 full-time staff and 40 casuals with offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
It averages five to six signs a week, with up to 20 in summer when demand peaks.
Computer software is used to create the artwork and what Mr Hunter calls an "advanced paint by numbers" process is applied to bring it to life on walls.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The Border plug emerged when an advertising agency, used by Visit Albury Wodonga, approached Apparition Media to paint the mural which is on the side of Melbourne Central shopping centre facing La Trobe Street.
Visit Albury Wodonga staff only realised Apparition Media's Border ties after being approached for this article.
Tourism chief Sue Harper said the mural was part of a campaign Always in Season which aimed to show the all-year round appeal of the area.
Melbourne provides 32 per cent of visitors to the Twin Cities.
The advertisement, which is in front of a bicycle lane and can be seen by passing tram passengers, went on display at the start of June and is expected to be on show until mid-July.
Tourism officer Suzy Watson was invited to help and added some brush strokes to the work.
Overall the eight by four metre commercial took two weeks, two artists and 10 litres of paint to complete.
However, for Apparition Media it has not been all about commercial deals.
In 2020, Mr Hunter, who played football for the Murray Bushrangers, said they decided to pay tribute to AFL champion Adam Goodes, whose career ended with him being booed regularly by opposition supporters.
"We just thought it was horrible the way Adam was treated and we had a platform to make noise with, so we said 'yes we're an advertising business, but it doesn't mean we can't comment, when we need to comment'," Mr Hunter said.
So they outlaid $20,000 for a giant portrait which now adorns the side of a three-storey building in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills.
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