Posts tagged Art Community
The Streets of San Jose: Interview with Costa Rica en la pared
icejPmQ4.png

Before moving to Costa Rica, my knowledge of what the art scene here was going to be like was limited. I knew little beyond a few successful local artists, like contemporary abstract painter Federico Hererro, or the sculptor, Jimenez Deredia. However, one of the most exciting aspects of San Jose I have discovered so far is the vast amount of incredible street art. With architecture as likely to be white as it is to be a soft pastel yellow, burnt orange, or a saturated blue, the tags and murals blend in with the colorful structures but also stand out individually as high caliber works. Especially in hip neighborhoods like Barrio Escalante, the artworks painted on exterior walls seemingly equal or outnumber the ever growing amount of trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes. This led me to the questions: how, why, and most importantly, who are these artists? 

On Instagram, I found a virtual hub of the street art scene in the area, aptly named Costa Rica en la pared (Costa Rica on the wall). Founded and run by a charismatic young Tico (local slang for ‘a native Costa Rican’) named Mario Molina, the organization currently coordinates tours and events that showcase the city’s great talent in street art. I sat down with him recently to discuss his interest in urban art, the history of graffiti in the city, and what he aims to achieve by continuing to grow Costa Rica en la pared.

First, a bit of history. He explains that street art began in earnest in Costa Rica around the late 90’s. The roots of the artists working today can be traced back to two major graffiti writers from the US and one from Nicaragua who became integrated with skate culture here during this time. For many years, however, the style of the work being produced was restricted by the kinds of paints and materials that were available. Fast forward about ten to fifteen years and once better quality spray paints arrived, there was a noticeable shift in the color palette and in the complexity of the art being produced. Rather than just graffiti, more murals began popping up after 2010. Additionally, the new generation of urban artists have access to digital tools that help them create their works and that many also have backgrounds in graphic design or related fields. The combination of better tools and more experienced talent caused a proliferation of quality street art in the past several years - this was a significant part of the impetus for launching Costa Rica en la pared. 

Mario has always been interested in art and has a genuine love for the nature and street culture of the area where he grew up. Though he began in a different field of study, he eventually pivoted to pursue a degree in tourism at the Universidad Internacional de las Américas, which he will soon be completing. After working at a restaurant for some time as a barista, while developing an interest in photography on the side, he left to pursue his interest in urban art. He does create tags periodically that focus on themes of social justice, but the motivation behind starting Costa Rica en la pared wasn’t about promoting his own work. Instead, he wants to act as a medium through which the local community can connect with street art.

One would assume that such a strong presence of street art and graffiti must be funded, organized, or supported in other ways as is the case with Miami’s Wynwood Walls or Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Project. According to Mario, however, besides a few murals that were commissioned by brands, artists are largely producing these works by themselves. Even without explicit permission, most artists don’t encounter issues with the authorities and often tag their work with their social media handles. Nevertheless, passively accepting that urban art is being created in your neighborhood is not the same as actively supporting it. This is where Costa Rica en la pared comes in. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 5.20.12 PM.png

Mario founded his organization around three years ago and initially began reaching out to the artist names he would repeatedly see around the city. Recognizing their distinctive codes and tags, he would find them on Instagram and ask to hear about their stories. Most were open and very willing to speak with him. Based on these interactions, he started to share what he had learned via series of posts on his Instagram page (@costaricaenlapared). These stories shared alongside strong visuals and a catchy hashtag has drawn a lot of interest over the past few years and his handle has now reached over fourteen thousand followers. While an interest in marketing and an eye for photography have surely helped grow his audience, what is unique about Costa Rica en la pared is its well-honed voice. He places a clear emphasis on social impact and supporting local artists in a way that nobody else is at the moment, with the ultimate goal being to have tourists and locals alike better understand and appreciate the urban art all around them. 

His other main source of engagement in addition to social media are walking tours that he calls urban art safaris. As he and the tour participants navigate various neighborhoods throughout the city, Mario leads the group in a discussion that is equal parts art, history, and sociology. His love for what he does is evident as he lights up when I ask him who are a few of his favorite local street artists. He considers the question carefully and ultimately settles on three that he pulls up on Instagram to show me. The first is @ulillo, an abstract muralist who promises one public art project for every private one he completes. Then there’s MUSH @mushongo, who Mario respects for his “purist”, old school style of lettering done with spray cans and praises as one of the influential pioneers of the graffiti movement in Costa Rica. Finally, he tells me about @negus_artevida, a talented tattoo artist in addition to mural and graffiti artist, who Mario describes as someone who creates big productions with significance and is a supporter of the old school style like MUSH.

As our conversation winds down, I ask him to tell me about what else he has planned for the rest of the year. He will keep hosting tours and planning events and he recently began selling t-shirts to help raise funds to support more street art projects. The talent is there, but what’s missing is someone to manage the logistics of connecting potential sponsors with artists. With his passion, it’s clear that he’s the right person for this job. He will be adding additional members to his team shortly so that they can continue to expand their reach, build partnerships with local hotels and hostels, and complete their first fully funded mural in barrio Aranjuez. From there, he hopes to eventually move beyond the city to other towns across the country. After all, he says, it’s not San Jose en la pared, it’s Costa Rica en la pared. 

Article by Alicia Puig
Featured in Issue 15!

Community Over Competition: Jamie Smith, founder of THRIVE
JS-216.jpg

On this episode, Kat talks with Jamie Smith about her journey, starting THRIVE and the importance of community and accountability for artists. 

ABOUT THRIVE

Being artists is very important and often lonely work and it’s our belief that to be thriving artists we must make art, meet our people and do the work. THRIVE is a membership community of worldwide visual artists! Our Mastermind program welcomes trans and cis women, as well as those who are genderqueer, femme-identifying and non-binary.  

MASTERMIND BY BRITNEY BERRNER CREATIVE

MASTERMIND BY BRITNEY BERRNER CREATIVE

DETAILS

  • THRIVE Mastermind starts in June. The deadline to apply is May 15th!

  • Meet for a year once a month online with other working artists all over the world. 

  • You can be based anywhere in the world and they have different meeting times for all the time zones. 

  • Visit www.thriveartstudio.com to learn more, watch their info video and apply. 


Jamie’s recent work and process

Why I Started Create! Magazine
Photo by Emily Grace Photography

Photo by Emily Grace Photography

I started my first magazine from a tiny studio apartment six years ago out of a desperate need for a creative community. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, and since I didn’t have the funding to start a physical gallery space, this was the next best thing I could come up with, and I am so thankful that I did. This desire to connect with other artists and empower them on their journey has been a constant over the years, and continues to inspire me to grow Create! as well as venture into exciting new projects that will support the growth of the emerging artist community. While I was developing my painting practice, there was a missing component of human connection and support on this unpredictable journey.

Back then, I had no money, no design experience, and all I had was a random idea that I decided to execute after working numerous minimum wage jobs. It took lots of Google searches, studying every publication I could get my hands on in Barnes and Noble on my lunch break, and teaching myself how to build websites, design magazines, and do basic business. I was discovering how to find artists and took lots of trips to galleries and museums to promote my humble publication. There was a period of time where I even walked into galleries in person to introduce myself and handed out free copies of the magazine. As you can imagine, some were super supportive and kind, while some were suspicious or disinterested.

It took many years to build a strong community. Over time I became more and more brave and started partnering with galleries and organizations that were so out of my league, it wasn’t even funny. This forced me to level up, increase the quality of the publication and stick to my commitments. Years and years later, the magazine became my actual job. I am now proud to work with a small team of four incredible women. We work together virtually, so we don’t get to see each other very often in person, but I know each one of us is driven by the love of art and the desire to support fellow creatives, especially those new on their journey.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from starting a creative business so far is that we are so much more powerful than we think. Taking responsibility for our own luck will speed up our success rate faster than waiting on some “expert” to come validate us. From my experiences, being bold and starting something will bring support faster than by wishing for it. We are definitely not meant to do this alone and there will be people on this journey that will help push your career forward, but remember that they also human and had to start somewhere just like you at one point in their life.

I used to approach influential figures in the arts with the notion that they surely must have something I don’t. I used to give myself excuses such as “I don't have rich parents, “I didn’t go to a fancy private art school,” “I don’t know how to do business” or even “I am not attractive or cool enough.” But when I took a chance on myself and got started, things began to shift, and the right people showed up with support.

The entrepreneurial path is not easy, but at the same time it’s open to anyone willing to find missing information, to fail over and over again, to have days where they have no idea what theу are doing and to try again and again until something sticks.

Building a business may not be for everyone, but I encourage you to contribute to a cause that you often think about. Maybe you found a way to do things better in the art world and want to make improvements by launching a better version of what already exists. There is more than enough room for new contributions, and I am excited to see what you create.

More than anything I want you to know that this magazine is for you. I may not get to work directly with each artist, but please know that you are always at the forefront of my mind with every new launch, article, or podcast episode.

Thank you for being a vital part of our community.

Cheers,

Kat

P.S. If you enjoy this content check out my podcast Art & Cocktails or subscribe to our glossy, colorful publication.

If you are an artist looking to get your work published, we always welcome submissions to our free blog and open calls.

Celebrating YOU! Info about our October event at PAFA and podcast interview with Kate Young

On this episode of Art and Cocktails, Kat does a brief introduction to the Create! Magazine two-year anniversary launch party at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on October 4, 2018, from 6:30-9:30 pm generously sponsored by PAFA and Bluecoat Gin. This event is a celebration of our magazine and the art community that makes it possible.

Kate also interviews, Kate Young, Venue Sales Manager at PAFA about the beautiful space. 

RSVP

Dear Artist,

It is my great pleasure to invite you to the Create! Magazine two-year anniversary launch party at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Hamilton Building) on October 4, 2018, from 6:30-9:30 pm. This event is a celebration of our magazine and the Philadelphia art community that makes it possible. I am honored to have PAFA sponsor the venue and give us the opportunity to meet important members of the art community. 

The launch will include complimentary light refreshments and beverages for our guests. 

You will get an opportunity to meet various organizations in our community, including Conrad Benner from Streets Dept., Center for Emerging Visual Art, Artist and Craftsman Store, Central Tattoo Studio, Paradigm Gallery and more. I am inviting an exclusive group of artists and art organizations that make our publication possible by submitting work, subscribing and supporting the magazine in a multitude of other ways. 

I hope to meet many of you in person, introduce you to other like-minded creatives in our community, and celebrate in the beautiful venue generously sponsored by PAFA. 

Please confirm your attendance. Because this event is free, we welcome any donations to help us cover the food and drinks for those attending. A percentage of the donations will be donated to local art organizations. . 

Looking forward to meeting you at the event and celebrating our thriving Philadelphia arts community in October!

If you are not able to make a donation, please send an e-mail to info@createmagazine.com with (PAFA event in the subject) and confirm your attendance. 

Warm Regards, 

Ekaterina

create-party.jpg