Cutting it up with Denver Artist and Muralist, Jaime Molina
When it comes to the art scene in Colorado, there might not be a more mentioned and recognizable name than Jaime Molina. The Denver artist makes folk-inspired sculptures, paintings, and murals, many of which adorn the walls of buildings and restaurants, and sit in local parks. He, along with a myriad of other artists, have created a Denver art scene rich in diversity and flush with innovation. We talked with Jaime about his characters called cuttys, the life/work struggles, and of course, his favorite pizza toppings.
Words to live by: Don’t hate the painter, hate the paint.
Guilty pleasure: Cheesy music
Last book you read: Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keefe
Talent other than art: I’m no chef, but I really enjoy cooking.
Best pizza topping: Mushrooms and black olives
Any NYE Resolutions? Make more to do lists.
Best advice you've received: Follow what moves you and let others catch up.
Every artist should have: Someone trustworthy who supports them and can act as an honest advisor, editor, part-time assistant, and part-time idea bouncer off’er.
How did you get your start as an artist? I’ve been making things, drawing, and being creative since I was a little kid, but I think I started taking it serious after my oldest daughter was born in 2007.
Tell us a little bit about your style: I make folk inspired sculptures, paintings, and murals. Many times, my work is inspired by things and experiences from my childhood as well as the people around me today. All of this gets pushed through a desire to transform found objects and sketchbook doodles into bigger work.
Is there a message in your work? There is always a narrative in my work. Sometimes, I know exactly what that is when I’m making something and can clearly articulate it. Other times, I make things intuitively and figure it out along the way. In both cases, I’m happy to tell people about it, but I usually prefer to let the viewer to tell me what it is about. It’s always more interesting to me that way.
Cutty is the name of your bearded character in a lot of your work. Where does he come from? They are some characters I made up a while back. I was doing a bunch of different characters that all had different looks and personalities, but the cuttys just stuck around because they had a lot of personality. To me, they were these rascals that lived in this imaginary town and just drank wine all day and played pranks on each other. To me, they embodied the rejection of societal conventions. They were content to just be themselves, be kind to others in the town and mess around with their friends. Nowadays, they don’t always have that same story behind them, but I enjoy having them help to tell different stories in my work. People often tell me they have a calming presence, which I really appreciate. If something I create can offer someone a calm moment, I am super honored and happy to do it.
You've worked on so many murals in Denver, what have been the most challenging and most rewarding? They are all challenging in their own way. Luckily, I have a great partner, Pedro Barrios, to create them which helps to break up the tough moments when they happen. There are so many different variables when you’re working on the street, or even if it’s indoors. Often, there are obstacles to overcome. I think the reward is finishing it and then walking away and watching the work take on it’s own life in the community.
How does your mentality change from a large scale mural to a small, gallery piece? I guess it’s just technical differences. Working on large murals is much more physical and you’re very aware of your surroundings. It’s usually kinda hot or kinda windy or kinda cold or kinda whatever is going on at that moment. When I’m making work in the studio, I just have on some background noise and just get into the zone for a long time by myself. It’s nice to be able to do both and hop back and forth to shake things up.
What do you love the most about the Colorado art scene? I appreciate how diverse it is. There is an incredible amount of talent and creative energy here and there are so many different facets to the art community in Colorado. I love that I get to be a part of it!
What struggles have you encountered along the way to being a professional artist? I think what I struggle with the most is fairly common in any job. It can be tricky to find the balance between family life and work life. I wouldn’t say it’s a struggle because I consciously make the decision to have boundaries, but it can be difficult at times to keep that balance. When you work for yourself, you are kind of always on call and always have to hop on opportunities when they pop up. Keeping those boundaries and keeping that balance is very important, but it can be a struggle sometimes.
You've accomplished so much. What's next for Jaime Molina? Haha thank you! There are a few things coming up soon, but I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had, and I hope to keep progressing my art and strive to stay true to myself, my family and my work.