Carlos Barboza realizes gift
By Larissa Copeland
It took Carlos Barboza about a week to finish the 13-by-11-foot mural in downtown Yukon, but making art has been a lifelong love.
“I was put into a cartooning class when I was seven,” Barboza said. “So, art was something I kind of kept doing, the older I got.”
Raised in Costa Rica, Barboza was no stranger to art at a young age. His great-uncle, he said, was a cartoonist, and he has a graphic designer and filmmaker as cousins.
When he was 10, Barboza moved to the United States and settled in Yukon.
He continues to paint and draw, but only when he isn’t working his day job with a land surveying company.
“I tried to do something not typically in the arts, because I felt like if I did it too much I’d get burned out,” he said.
Then a conversation started between Justy Stewart, Barboza’s friend and owner of Tease Hair Studio at 430 W. Main.
“She’s a good friend, and we were always talking about doing a mural back (behind the store),” Barboza said. “Murals are something I’ve always been very interested in doing – I love large-scale projects.”
When Barboza had a week off in March, the discussion became reality.
“I designed it, prepped the wall, painted it and finished in the span of that one week,” he said.
That’s not to say the process was easy. Once Barboza and Stewart finalized the design, Barboza created a digital version. He invested in a projector and, one morning before sunrise, sketched the piece onto the building’s brick exterior.
Then the real challenge began.
“It was a trial by fire,” he said. “It was hot and sunny, and I was using paint that was almost drying in real-time. I couldn’t blend it.”
Adding to the stress was knowing that he only had a week to finish the piece.
“But as I kept going, and the more hours I put in, I got better at it. The entire process of it was me trying to learn as I was going. Since I only had a week, I had to figure it out quickly.”
The colorful design, with its black-and-white centerpiece of a woman tying back her hair, contrasts sharply against the surrounding walls.
“It was a very cool collaboration, because we wanted to reach a happy ground where she was happy with the final design and it would also be something I was very proud of doing and happy to show off to people. I think we found something we’re both extremely happy with.”
Since then, a lot has happened. The mural created enough buzz for Barboza to decide to quit his land surveying job and try his hand at being a full-time artist.
“So far it’s been pretty great,” Barboza said. “I love doing it; it doesn’t feel like work.”
While the mural at Tease Hair Studio is Barboza’s first solo mural, he said it wasn’t his first experience working with something on a larger scale. When he was in high school, he and his friends were hired to put together a mural at Myers Elementary.
Barboza said his style is open to interpretation.
Despite being mostly self-taught, he tries to challenge himself, whether that’s experimenting with new mediums or trying to capture a specific emotion in a piece. He often finds himself working on portraits, producing detailed close-ups that seem to leap off the canvas.
“It starts out with an image in my head,” he said. “With portraiture, it can be a very complicated thing. If the mouth is tilted in a particular way, or an eyebrow is raised too high or too low, it communicates something entirely different. Portraiture is about being precise with the emotion you’re trying to convey.”
And while Barboza says he does use reference photos, he doesn’t try to just produce a perfect copy of an image.
“If you’re aiming to do something that’s just photorealistic, it can be kind of redundant,” he said. “As an artist, I’m trying to create an image that no one’s ever seen before. I do use reference photos, but I try to make a whole new image. I see my work as an adaptation rather than a recreation.”
Barboza said he’s thrilled to see people sharing images of his mural on social media.
“That’s kind of the beauty of public art,” he said. “It’s available to anybody and everybody.”
More of Barboza’s work, along with his contact details, are available at www.carlosbarboza.com.