Table Talk: Chris Rutterford on painting cows for a living

Table Talk: Chris Rutterford on painting cows for a living

Edinburgh-based artist talks about the importance of artwork and design in making a restaurant stand out

I have worked professionally in the art industry for well over 20 years, originally mainly as a magazine editorial illustrator. At a certain point in my career, I wanted to make the transition to larger, more ambitious artworks but I didn't really feel any aspirations to be a 'real' artist and present my art within galleries.

Working with restaurants and bars providing custom-made artwork for businesses is not second prize for me – it feels like a far more worthy venue for my type of art. Unexpectedly, I have developed a line in life-size cow painting. I also transform quarterly the landmark cow that resides at the west end of Princes Street for Kyloe Restaurant. Kyloe estimates 30 people an hour stop to have their photo taken with the cow.

My main speciality, however, is in murals. I've produced around ten in the last five years, most of which reside in cafés and restaurant spaces. Recently I painted a 16ft x 8ft mural for the newly launched Badger & Co pub, of the characters in Wind in the Willows. In the same week, I painted a 16-metre-long Jock octopus attacking a café in Glasgow. Artwork in the restaurant business is not just about icing the cake. It can have a transformative effect. In a competitive marketplace, bland solutions don't offer any guarantee of success – they can make restaurants invisible. Spectacular artwork is a tried and tested technique to ensure public spaces have an edge in the marketplace.

Chris Rutterford is an artist specialising in creating work for public spaces.

Kyloe Restaurant & Grill

The Rutland Hotel, 1–3 Rutland Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AE

Glitzy dining in steak heaven, with a decent wine list and cheerful service.