Local artist and Stumptown Otaku owner Tommy Ly told KOIN 6 News that he is actively working on the mural, which he is painting onto a 20-by-16-foot portable canvas that will be affixed to a wall in his shop at 133 2nd Ave. in Downtown Portland. Ly said his inspiration for the piece came from his love of Portland and was partially inspired by Travel Portland’s Studio Ghibli-themed promotion from 2019.
“I chose this design because I really love Portland,” Ly said. “I’ve been here since I was 3 years old and just appreciate the beauty of it.”
The soon-to-be-completed mural places Pokémon characters like Pikachu, Squirtle and Charmander among prominent Portland landmarks like Steel Bridge, KOIN Tower and the Tom McCall Waterfront Park — you’ll have to take in the mural yourself to catch them all.
The mural matches the theme of Ly’s business, which merges local art with classic anime. A combination of Portland’s “Stumptown” nickname and Otaku, the Japanese word for someone with an obsessive interest, Stumptown Otaku features a variety of locally-made, anime-themed art and figurines.
“We’re an anime shop,” Ly said. “We create stuff from Japan to make sure Americans have access to stuff that is usually exclusive to Asia.”
After starting the business in his parent’s garage at the height of the pandemic, the 33-year-old social worker opened his first brick-and-mortar shop in October of 2022. Although Ly has kept his day job, he said that his business has been successful enough to expand in recent months, swallowing up neighboring retail space in the Haseltine Building.
While the shop’s art is primarily designed by Ly, other artists interested in selling their work out of the business are encouraged to apply through the business’ website. Ly also encourages visitors to check out the Pokémon mural during store hours when it is completed and mounted, which will likely be by the end of May.