By Daniel Paiz
Cypher Local #2 consists of meeting some local Denver talent. Many Denver artists out there are not getting as much attention as you might expect. That’s unfortunately part of being a creative individual who is putting your work out there. With that being said, I’m working to highlight some of those creatives that might grab your attention.
The following artists are in different arenas and each have a different perspective to deliver. Should you enjoy their work, there are links below to check it out further at your leisure. Many thanks to those artists who participated in this collaboration. With that being said, let’s look at said talented creatives.
Artist #1: Diego Florez
Diego Florez is a person who creates all the things, to be honest. A visual artist, graffiti artist, musician, poet, songwriter and overall interesting person. Below is a brief glimpse into the North Denver native.
Cypher Sessions (CS): What first inspired you to visually create?
Diego Florez (DF): I have always loved to draw from a young age. My grandma would draw with me both doodling, attempting what we could.
CS: How did you first into creating graffiti, and what’s your goal with your graffiti?
DF: Growing up my older cousin, Carlos, moved in with us when I was 8. At the time we was 18 with a sweet skull tattoo. He influenced me as an older brother. Everything from playing guitar to graffiti and tattoos he knew of and was willing to show me what he knew.
Over years of tagging I met Zehb, my mentor of many subjects but art as the primary focus. Zehb has done tattoos for over 20 years and murals for over 10. Learning from him has been inspiring to learn high level technique and attention to detail throughout the process of creation.
He is always pushing me to be and perform my best through his actions.
My work, whether it is legal or illegal the work I create always has a message. LuvChu. Liberation Committeee. Water is Life. Lovechuself.
CS: What kind of artwork are you hoping to create throughout your career?
DF: Ideally I would love to paint murals around the world in the summer and tattoo throughout the winter. Creating captivating and emotional imagery on skin or large scale buildings.
CS: How do you think about creating artwork, graffiti, drawing, etc.? What does art do for your well-being?
DF: Artwork as a process has grown sooo much in the last 2 years. From tagging and doodling to abstract painting to character painting to large scale illegal graffiti to large scale muralism. through it all, it all starts with a pencil and a good sketch. From planning colors to buying paint, budgeting, buying materials, talking with clients are all things I love to do regardless of if I am getting paid for it or not.
The process of moving my body mind and soul to align long enough to create and image to affect the people around me in a positive way is my over all mutual gift that keeps on giving.
CS: Where can we find your work?
DF: In the streets.
On Instagram: @LeonDeLasFlorez
All along the southwest.
Artist #2: Kayla Marque
Singer-songwriter Kayla Marque has been going through the paces of writing and creating music for some time. Marque recently released part of a new project this summer, and this artist has a lot to say in her work. Let’s dig a bit further to see what that is.
CS: What was that one moment where you realized you were going to start making music as a career?
Kayla Marque (KM): I can’t say that I realized I was going to make it my career. But, there was the moment my first year in college, I was severely unhappy on that path… I sang an acapella song at a talent show food drive on campus and remembered what it felt like to feel alive, to feel like myself again.
I withdrew from the university shortly after and began writing songs and performing locally…I had no idea where I was going with it, no idea that my life would look the way it does today. I only knew that’s what I loved to do.
CS: What is your creative process when it comes to creating?
KM: I have multiple process’ now, it depends on the situation (whether I am writing for my personal projects or for commercial use).
I enjoy both of the two, and actually find that I need the two avenues. My personal projects are a space where I can tell my story and express myself and that process can sometimes take years before I can properly tell the story. I typically start with a word or phrase, make a chord progression, freestlye jibberish over the progession, and then I’ll go back and edit/develop the concept.
Then I take the acoustic song to my producer and we build instrumentation in the studio; this is where I get to decide the personality and mood of the song. I like for the acoustic and the studio production to be quite different, because I can perform either of them, and the listener will get a different experience with the two versions… it is important to me to show how things evolve.
CS: Which project are you the most proud of?
KM: My projects are like children to me (laughs), I can’t choose a favorite. My first album, “Live and Die Like This” is my baby and I will always have a special relationship with that project. My double sophomore album “Brain Chemistry” is where I am now, with the first part set to release soon!
This project is really special to me as well, it shows immense growth as a person and an artist, and I’ve been able to bring a visual element in with this project… I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.
CS: What’s your writing process, what inspires you to form your message?
KM: My writing content is inspired by what chapter I am in my life. Until recently it has been a very reflective, introspective process, to kind of get to know myself better…
I’ve just been figuring out who I am and I do that best through music. It is just real and raw and sometimes uncomfortable, but I think many others can relate to what I feel.
CS: Where can we find your work?
YouTube – https://youtu.be/apxK0zCl1vQ
Artist #3: Josh Lucero
Josh Lucero has been drawing for a very long time, enough time to parlay it into a career. Pair that together with a tattooing career and this guy is drawing all the time. If you’re looking for artwork on your walls or your person, you might want to check the following out.
CS: What first inspired you to start drawing, and to start tattooing?
Josh Lucero (JL): Honestly, I don’t really have any specific thing that inspired me to start. When I was younger it was more of an escape from everything around me. I would listen to music all day and just draw for hours at a time, I specifically remember listening to The Black Album by Jay-Z all the time.
As for tattooing, I wasn’t really into the art even through high school. A year or so after high school my sister brought me home a magazine where I could order a cheap tattoo kit and from there on I just practiced on friends and family.
CS: How does drawing and tattooing differ for you creatively?
JL: It personally doesn’t differ too much for me as I do photo realism in both aspects. Of course I get a little more freedom with drawing compared to tattooing but overall they’re very similar. I personally prefer drawing over tattooing, only cause I get to make and create exactly what I want.
CS: Which pieces for each medium are you the most proud of, and what are the stories behind said pieces?
JL: When it comes to drawing, I couldn’t say what piece was my favorite. I would say any of the drawings of my children as they’re the most important people in my life and I know when I’m gone these pieces will mean so much to them. As for tattooing, I also don’t know if I have a favorite but one that comes to mind is the Kendrick Lamar portrait I did a few years back.
The day just went really smooth and everything just seemed to sit in the skin really well to make this entire piece look nice. I’m pretty sure he was just a huge fan of Kendrick, and was later gonna also add a J Cole piece.
CS: What’s your process when you start drawing, what do you do first?
JL: First I go back and forth for at least an hour trying to figure out what piece I wanna actually draw. After that I go about it like I do a tattoo stencil, making a simple map of where everything is laid out. It’ll be a really light sketch and have minimal info for the piece.
After that I just work on it every now and then when I can find the time between being a father and husband.
CS: Where can we find more of your work?
JL: I only share my work on my Instagram @spaghetti_kray.