The story behind Austin’s iconic ‘I love you so much’ mural

When one thinks of iconic murals in Austin, Texas, the “I love you so much” wall on South Congress Avenue often is the first that comes to mind.

But not many know much about the mural, like when it first came to be and whether or not the original artist is profiting from the recognizable tagline. Thanks to a new episode of Tiny Talks Austin — a live event experience where some of the Capital City’s most intriguing people share their experiences in bite-sized presentations — natives and transplants alike now know the answer.

But the story is much deeper than many may think, and the person who placed the tagline on the wall claims they are not receiving a dime despite being promised royalties. In the Tiny Talks episode that was filmed on June 11 at the Austin School of Film but posted on YouTube on July 9, the artist, Amy Cook, revealed the story behind the mural, and what she says happened later down the line.

According to Cook, the idea behind the simple yet powerful mural stemmed from a trip to New York City they took with their then-partner in 2004. As they were strolling through the Chelsea neighborhood, they stumbled upon a brick wall in an alley with “I love you so much” spray-painted on it in yellow cursive.

For the next six years, Cook thought about the “I love you so much” tagline she and her former partner, Liz Lambert, the co-founder of Jo’s Coffee, stumbled upon that fateful day in NYC.

Then, in 2010, Cook said she decided on the wall outside the coffee shop. Since she had painted Jo’s iconic green wall countless times before, Cook figured she’d spray paint the tagline in the now-recognizable red ink on the side of the coffee shop for her partner to see before painting over it one more time. Yet, her partner loved it and so did the community. 14 years later, the mural remains one of the most iconic parts of the SoCo area, and Austin as a whole.

But, Cook stated that towards the end of 2012, she and her partner parted ways, and things got a bit messy in terms of alleged unfulfilled financial promises.

Artist who painted ‘I love you so much’ speaks out about royalties

Though Cook claimed on Tiny Talks Austin that she was promised she would have a percentage of the coffee shop and a percentage of royalties, she said that she has not received “a dime in royalties.”

Cook said she hired an attorney but has been unsuccessful. Additionally, it’s not cheap to start a legal battle with a corporation over copyright as Jo’s Coffee is run by Bunkhouse Group, which reportedly operates under Standard International.

“All I’ve wanted, from basically from the very beginning, was just to be able to let go of this,” Cook shared during the Tiny Talks Austin episode. However, this has proven difficult considering the numerous items in stores around the city and online that feature the mural with the tagline she painted.

But, as Cook tries to move forward, she’s reflecting on what matters most, such as community and friendship. As for the “I love you so much” mural, Cook said she’s happy to have made something that means so much to the community “and no one can take that from me.”

If you want to support Cook’s original work, you can view her ”I love you so much” merch here.

You can watch Cook’s full episode on Tiny Talks Austin below:

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