World Cow: how a Vermont-born mural became a global phenomenon

MARSHFIELD — When Middlesex-based artist DJ Barry first started painting cows in 2015, he never imagined that his work would become a global phenomenon.

Barry is the founder of World Cow, a global brand and art movement sharing a mural of a cow with spots in the shape of the world map, often accompanied by the slogan "we're all spots on the same cow."

Since its founding in 2016, World Cow has spread across the U.S. and to 40 countries around the world.

"The message is simple. We're all spots in the same cow," Barry said. "So no matter your race, your gender, we're all in this life together. Our feet are on the same ground. We're breathing the same air. We should be kind to each other."

DJ Barry (left) and Jen Gordon (right) man a World Cow mural at the Marshfield Inn & Motel in Marshfield on May 23, 2023.

From Vermont to around the world

World Cow originated in 2015 as the campaign "Cows For a Cause," for which Barry traveled around Vermont, often donned in a cow costume, selling cow art and donating the proceeds for local nonprofits such as the ANEW Place shelter.

Following this campaign, Barry finalized his cow design with the world map spots, and got the idea for the slogan "we're all spots on the same cow" from his family. He began driving around Vermont, asking owners of general stores, small town inns, and other businesses if he could paint a World Cow on their building.

A World Cow mural in Maun, Botswana.

In early 2020, Barry began reaching out to street artists around the world to see if they would be interested in painting a World Cow in their hometown. Barry would mail the artists the stencils they need, and they would spray paint the cow, sharing pictures of the results to a growing audience of fans. The brand now has over 153,000 followers on TikTok.

"Nobody really knew that world cow is from Vermont. I didn't know World Cow was from Vermont for the longest time," said Jen Gordon, Barry's partner and collaborator. "It just makes me feel really proud. It makes me feel like we are portraying our state values and how we choose to be as a community."

A World Cow etching in a corn maze in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

A global moo-vement

There are now thousands of World Cows painted across the globe, according to Barry. Countries where World Cows have been spotted include Botswana, Germany, India, Panama, France, and more. In addition to murals, World Cows have become T-shirts, tattoos, and even corn field mazes.

This past April, World Cow launched its flagship store in Montpelier, serving as a home base for the brand to spread its message of kindness and community.

"I'm so optimistic for the future with World Cow," Gordon said. "I just see big things for it. I have since I came across it years ago, before I even knew DJ, and now that I get to be a part of it, and help it to grow and spread across the world, it's just — it's amazing. Feels like a dream most of the time."

The World Cow store is located at 8 State St. in Montpelier. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. every day of the week except for Sundays, when it is closed.

Contact April Fisher at amfisher@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AMFisherMedia

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: World Cow: How a Vermont-born mural became a global movement