Denver Artist Jher + Veritas = New Mural in the RiNo Arts District
Murals, tattoos and a singular vision: Meet the artist collaborating with Veritas on a new mural in Denver’s RiNo Arts District.
Denver artist Jher is truly a one-of-a-kind talent.
Over the course of his 30+ year career, his various areas of focus have included graffiti, tattooing (he’s a co-owner of Denver’s Landmark Tattoo), canvas work, music production, rapping and illustration.
With such a deep well of creativity to draw from, we knew Jher would be the perfect person for Veritas to collaborate with on a new, large-scale mural located in Denver’s RiNo Arts District as Veritas does our part to make the city a little brighter.
Taking a break from this sizable work in progress, Jher shares the inside story on his background, the role cannabis plays in his own life and offers a sneak preview of what fans can expect to see when this new canna-collaborative project is unveiled.
You work across a number of creative modes. What came first, graffiti or tattoos?
Graffiti definitely came first and that’s how I got into tattooing. I started painting graffiti in 1991, and that led to opportunities to paint legally at places like hip-hop shops, liquor stores—basically anyone that would let us paint. That was when I began to incorporate more characters and backgrounds into my work, so people wouldn’t look at it as “just graffiti.” Then a tattoo shop called Twisted Sol hired me to do a mural in their store and one of the owners asked me to do an apprenticeship. This was in 1999. Tattooing taught me more about compositions and art history. It taught me to refine my work more and use references.
Are tattoos and graffiti your two main areas of focus?
I also do a lot of canvas work, I produce music and I do illustrations for people. I do all types of art. While I wouldn’t call myself an emcee, I’ve been rapping for as long as I’ve been tattooing. My rap name is Self-Similar; it’s an homage to the similar patterns we see in nature.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I don’t have that brand-name recognizability that some artists do because I don’t necessarily stick to one thing. I have so many influences, and it’s so versatile, that I can’t really say I do illustrative stuff or portrait stuff or hot-rod stuff, because there’s little elements of all that in my work.
What have you learned as a result of working as a professional artist?
Every artist is their own worst critic. I have pieces that are already bought and paid for that I’m just sitting on because I’m not done with them. Sometimes you’ll just hit a wall, so you stop and say “I fucking hate this thing.” But that’s the tricky part of being a pro: Being able to walk away without overworking something.
How did you get hooked up with Veritas?
If you told me 20 years ago that I’d have a sponsor to paint a mural—and that the sponsor would be a company that grows weed—I would have said you were crazy. The city of Denver has so much great art and I think cannabis has helped with that. It’s been cool to see them intertwine. It all comes from the underground side of the city. The fact that Veritas and RiNo Arts District gave us pretty much complete freedom to paint whatever we want has been amazing and super humbling. I’ve barely been able to wrap my head around it.
Do you use cannabis in your own creative process?
I was actually puffing on something from Veritas the other day! Yes, I do use cannabis in my creative process. I like it because it opens you up more to new ideas and to thinking in a way you wouldn’t think normally. I’m also a fan of topical creams now. I use a lot of that stuff too because painting murals is not super easy on the body.
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What can you share about the RiNo mural you’re currently working on?
I am still currently in the process of painting the mural. This one is a collaborative piece. It encompasses at least five to six businesses and wraps around the entire building at 2625 Larimer St.
I’m curating it with another artist, Tuke, and we’ve hired people from both of our crews that are helping. He’s from the DF crew [Diabolical Funk Graffiti] and I’m from the RTD crew [Rebels Til Death]. Tuke and I are doing a lot of the background stuff. We agreed to do an urban theme, so power lines, paper stands, etc. I’m doing a woman with an owl on her shoulder to signify hope.
There are also other animal elements—all animals that you’d find in Colorado / Denver—that we’re going to incorporate. I also might do a trash panda character. It’s hard to explain but there’s going to be what looks like a zoomed-in graffiti scene blown up on a building with characters that look like stickers. People will be able to look at it and say, “That’s graffiti, but it’s really pretty.”
Follow @jher451 to see more of Jher’s work