The best way to describe Richard Zeigler, better known as Ziggy, is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s a leather craftsman, a furrier and a fourth-generation cobbler.


“Since I was about 7 years old, I guess, my father used to take me to a shoe factory in St. Louis,” he said.


For Ziggy, the best way to make a living is working with his hands, something he says few people do these days. He said at one point there were a half-million cobblers and shoe repairmen in the United States; now there are fewer than 3,000.


“You wonder if this will even be around when I’m gone,” he said. “No one wants to learn it.”


While making leather belts and fur hats keeps him busy at his Fourth Avenue store, Arctic Treasures Trading Post, behind the building, is where his real art comes to life.


For 30 years, he’s used the alleyway buildings as giant canvasses for airbrushed murals.


“When you put the eagle and the raven together with the sun in the middle, it’s called the love bird,” Ziggy said, explaining one of his pieces.


He’s already painted about a dozen walls between Fourth and Fifth Avenue. Another four businesses have donated their blank spaces for him to fill as well.


“This could be a landscape with maybe bears popping out at you,” he envisioned on a wall behind a tattoo shop.


Almost all of the money for the murals has come out of his own pocket. Now, he’s started a Kickstarter campaign in hopes that others might pitch in to help him paint.


“It gives me the kind of happiness you can’t get from anything else,” Ziggy said. “I can walk through and be really happy about what I’ve done, that I’ve given this back to my community.”


He said painting the murals is a craft in itself, making something out of nothing — a way to leave his mark on the city.


“I want them to last forever,” he said. “I want them to last when I’m gone. I want people to know someone took the trouble to do this for them. It’s my way of giving back.”


Ziggy hopes to raise about $4,000 from the Kickstarter page, though, he says, that will only cover the cost for one wall. He’s optimistic others will donate to his project, so he can continue to cover downtown Anchorage with airbrushed art.