Let your wall inspire you

Thriving in each other – Bonfire mural story

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I finished the mural at Bonfire yoga studio. And for those who are interested in how it all began and developed, and who was involved, I’d like to share my experience, some stories, and thoughts.

It all began… No, I don’t feel like starting like this 🙂

Bonfire mural Thrive_by Kat Smirnoff_Kat\'s Mural Art



I would like to say thank you to my good friend Bek and the foundation Follow Your Dreamzzz for so many things that happened to me in the last year. I must admit, when this girl came for a room inspection when we were looking for a housemate, she made an impression of a very nice and chatty person, barefoot and with messy hair, and though with so much depth and spirit – but at that time I didn’t even imagine all the good things that would come out of our relationship, and I believe many more amazing things a yet to come.

Being a passionate yoga teacher and the manager of the yoga studio Bonfire in Brisbane, Jindalee, at that time, Bek introduced me to yoga, first. And first, I was quite skeptical. But you see, Bek will never push you to do something, she’ll just keep talking about all the amazingness of the things that she does, and in the end, curiosity always wins, so I started doing yoga. Then, she introduced me to the Karmi group at BonfireBek Nicole Kat Smirnoff Bonfire


This is something I absolutely admire and I fell in love with this concept straight away. The work karma in Sanskrit simply means deed or work but it is also associated with the saying “What comes around, goes around”, in the sense, if you do good, good will be done to you, and the opposite. Following this principle, Bonfire family created a possibility for people – aka Karmis – to look after the studio, to make it clean, to bring a positive vibe to it, to love it and to care for it, and to be able to practice yoga in exchange. It appealed to me because the money was tight, and I wanted to do yoga, so I signed up for the Karmi exchange.

First, it just meant cleaning to me. But gradually, I started feeling joy coming on Sunday nights, having a chat with the people, polishing those mirrors, folding those towels, because more and more, they felt like my mirrors and my towels. I felt appreciated, I heard the words “thank you” so many times that I seriously developed warm feeling towards this studio. Is it possible to fall in love with a yoga studio? 🙂


But of course, nothing stays the same, things always evolve. Bonfire started renovating because a new aspect of health and wellbeing was being integrated into it – Bonfire Dental. I call it the triple SSS of health now: Chiro for the Spine, Dental for the Smile, and Yoga for the Soul. So as they were renovating, the idea of a mural came up, and Bek thought of me straight away. I had just started my mural business Kat’s Mural Art, and she wanted to help me to get exposure, to give me a place to practice, and she believed the mural would come out nicely anyway, so it would be good for Bonfire as well. See, the same thing – exchange without money. Who needs money if we all can just do things for each other? 🙂 Such a beautiful concept!

She told Bonfire management that she had found an artist to paint the mural but she didn’t tell them it was me. So I just kept doing my yoga and cleaning, and nobody knew for a while. Soon enough, I blurted it out, kinda being a bit unsure, if Dr. Aaron, the founder and owner of Bonfire, would let me do it, with no artist resume and no references except Bek’s one. But just as always, I was blown away by their support, trust, good will, and appreciation. Of course, it’s all yours, he said. And I started painting.

Bonfire Yoga Jindalee Kat Smirnoff Mural Artist



I worked at night, mostly, because I had paint standing around and a ladder, stuff everywhere, which could be a potential hazard to people coming to do yoga during the day. Normally I like to sleep at night and to work in the morning, so it was a bit of a change for me. And, coming closer to Bonfire Birthday Bash and the opening of Bonfire Dental on 25th of February, there was constant construction work going on every night. It was kind of hard to focus and to be creative. But again, the people were awesome.

Nathan and Neil from the dental team were very helpful and even helped me to create the lettering for the word THRIVE as a part of the painting. Nathan is very passionate about this Bonfire expansion project and full of ideas, and he supports my art as well. He always comes up to me with new ideas how I can show my paintings to everybody and win new clients for Kat’s Mural Art. Thank you Nate!

Bonfire Mural Progress_By Kat Smirnoff_Kat\'s Mural Art

Bonfire Mural By Kat Smirnoff 2Nathan And Neil Bonfire


The idea of the painting was clear to me from the very beginning. It took me a couple of days of sketching until I decided how exactly I wanted it to look.

Bonfire Mural Thrive 1_By Kat Smirnoff_Kat\'s Mural Art


I wanted to picture the fire of hot yoga as a new birth. Two people, a man, and a woman, together, connected, in the infinity pose, which is also a spine twist (representing chiropractic), smiling (representing dentistry), under the flame of Bonfire (their logo). The flame of hot yoga may not be pleasant, it may hurt, it will definitely be hot, they may struggle. But this flame is not a destructive fire. This fire brings life. So after we burn, we can rise from the ashes, like a phoenix, to live a new life, in infinity.

The infinity symbol (which she is also wearing around her wrist) also means to me that this process will repeat again and again. Like the phoenix will live for a while until it will go up in flames again, burn, turn to ashes and be reborn again, and again, again. Not only one new birth is a step towards a happier life. All of them are. Every time we rise, and every time we fall so we can rise again. As we do that, we grow, we expand and we thrive. And every new birth is stronger, more beautiful, and more inspiring. With wider wings, and a more beautiful song.

It’s funny how Nathan’s idea of the word Thrive fits in so well, although he didn’t know what I wanted to paint, and I didn’t know at that time about his idea of THRIVE. I was also touched when Linh and Trang from the dental team came up to me and said that the symbol of phoenix meant a lot to them and was an important symbol in Asia. I’m happy people can relate to this painting and feel good looking at it.

Sometimes I get asked who the people in the painting are. Nobody really, just a combination of pretty faces 🙂 But I must admit, to be able to paint the bodies in this position correctly, I needed a reference picture. So I tortured my boyfriend for 15 min, making him sit with me in this pose and smile, so I could take 20 pictures or so with a timer, running back to the camera and saying “One more, last one… Ok, last one… No, one more”. I want to thank you, Val, for being so patient and supportive, from the very beginning, for encouraging me to do what I like, for supplying me with tools, and for being my best friend. … So I painted Val’s body the way it is, just without the tattoos, my body the way it will be after many hot yoga sessions ????, and somebody else’s faces. There you go.


Now, Bonfire has offered me to paint everywhere inside the studio. That is so wonderful. Even more wonderful – and I am so humbled and bowing down before them – they offered me yoga and chiropractic care for my art. The best possible exchange ever! And also, I got a new project – a 17 meters long retaining wall outside the yoga studio, as a job for Jindalee Home Commercial Center. Exciting times are coming for Kat’s Mural Art!


This brings me back to Bek – the girl without shoes and with messy hair inquiring about a room – and the foundation Follow Your Dreamzzz that she founded. It makes me think. Every day and every moment can give you an opportunity to step closer towards your dream. You never know when, you just got to trust. And every person we meet and spend time with is a temple with thousands of doors to your fulfillment. To the fulfillment of this world.

I imagine this world, the whole universe, as a massive maze, where all the roads are interconnected, with no categories, and no dimensions. We can evolve and thrive through a person, through nature, through experiences, through thoughts or no thoughts, we give and get, and there is no difference between them. I am one with everything, and there has never been a separation, only in my mind. We all are the fulfillment of everybody’s dreams. You can say, show or do something and bring somebody closer to their burning desire, and sometimes it’s what you don’t say or do. And the other way around. All the ways around. What comes around goes around. That’s Karma.

I love the concept of Follow Your Dreamzzz. It believes that we all have something that we can give to help others to fulfill their dreams, and we all have gifts that we can offer. So often, money is the last thing we need, when we think about it. We need knowledge, support, skills, advice, equipment, people, places, so many things that can be simply exchanged by the members of the community. Like back in the day: vegetables for clothes, healing for milk, support for herbs… And no madness like the one created by money.


I am very excited about my path. Because I also want to thrive, that is probably my biggest desire, to thrive in everything I do. So natural, so human, and so beautiful. And I want others to thrive through me and my art.


Lovely people, please accept my gratitude: Val, Bek, Dr. Aaron, Azza, Nathan, Neil, Dr. Trang and Dr. Linh, Dr. Stuart, and everybody in my Bonfire family.


Kat Smirnoff

Version 2