“What’s your background?” I asked.
“Oh boy…” he responded.
And so began my conversation with Justin Barreras (Insta: jb.was.here), graffiti-artist-turned-graphic-designer. Via video call, JB began recounting his lovely, sometimes-illegal, always-challenging relationship with art. Elaborating on how his interest in art, and graffiti specifically, began at a young age, JB described how he “started to notice stickers and tags slapped on mailboxes” as he walked to elementary school with his mom. From there, the love affair gained momentum, until JB found himself climbing freeway overpasses, exploring abandoned buildings, and shimmying up poles so he could execute a graffiti project. Given the illegal nature of graffiting–and add in the irony of having a Dad who’s a cop–JB would ask himself “Shit… should I keep doing this?” but the answer was always a resounding yes.
After enough repeat offenses, JB came to a crossroads: carry on with the graffiti and gain “clout” as a graffiti artist, or translate his passion for art and graffiti into a career in graphic design.
“It’s like me catching a tag all over a company.”
Given that we’re here now, you probably know which path he chose. Having transitioned his love for graffiti into a love for graphic design, JB draws parallels between graffiti and designing for a marketing agency as he explains that creating logos for brands is “like me catching a tag all over a company.” In addition to his 9 to 5 job at a marketing agency, JB is a freelance designer. And that’s where our stories intertwine.
A friend of The K for years, JB’s first collaboration with the Kollection came in the form of tagging a van at The K’s Chaos in the Canyon event. After such a success, and with more time to prepare, JB began the process of creating the visual identity for the K’s November 1st event, Til Death Do Us Part.
Starting by “capturing the concept” through spitballing back and forth, and getting sketches down “and getting them down rough,” JB has turned the loose idea of a dead wedding into the refined and spectacular logos that have come to represent Til Death Do Us Part.
“I don’t think I’d be a very good artist if I didn’t say, ‘I’m never satisfied with any of my pieces.’”
In viewing his early sketches and his “Shit to Do” list, JB’s enthusiasm, passion, and total love for art become obvious. He explains how his inspiration can hit at any time, and how his mind goes crazy with ideas. When asked how it feels to create a truly incredible piece, JB said, “I don’t think I’d be a very good artist if I didn’t say, ‘I’m never satisfied with any of my pieces.’”
And though he may never feel fully satisfied with his work, we certainly do. It’s JB’s incredible inspiration and his insatiable passion that connected him with the K, and Til Death Do Us Part wouldn’t be what it is without him.
Forsaking his Dad’s cop uniform, the Halloween costume he’s worn for the past 6 years, JB will be suited up in his spookiest dead groom attire to celebrate the K’s Til Death Do Us Part event, which would be sorely lacking in spooky graphics without his artistic mind. So, huge thanks to JB for the incredible (we’ll say it if you won’t, JB!) art, and if you see him tomorrow, say what’s up. And without further ado, let’s get spooky!