Artist Profile: To see into the future, Patricio DeLara looks to the past

Artist Patricio Delara poses for a portrait // Photo by Tony Saunders

Patricio DeLara has no interest in committing to any one medium. He much prefers to focus on the idea he’s trying to portray and then find the style best suited to represent it. This fluid creative process has opened doors to a wide array of media, from painting to graphic design and illustration—and looking ahead, the 21-year-old artist has his eye on film.

With storytelling at the forefront of his inspiration, Patricio drew on both personal and universal experience when visualizing the concept for this cover, which he ended up creating using acrylic on canvas, “with a spritz of digital magic.” Growing up with a dad who worked as a gallery curator, he was immersed in art from a young age. “We’d have artifacts from India, Morocco—[my dad] has this wall of masks in his living room and I’d just stare at them for hours. Which is interesting, because the masks play a part in the cover. So it’s all kind of coming full circle.”

For as long as he can remember, Patricio has been creating art, drawing so much as a child that his mother had to buy paper by the ream. Born in Puebla, Mexico, Patricio moved as a child to New York City with his family when his father was pursuing a job in fine art curating. “He always tells me, I’m probably one of the only children to ever slide down the stairs in a cardboard box at the MoMA,” he says, admitting, “We used to get in trouble quite a bit.”

Patricio currently works as the assistant lab lead alongside Greta Kotz in the graphic design lab at Juxtaposition Arts in North Minneapolis, where he started as an apprentice in 2017 before completing an internship there in marketing and communications. Now, he works professionally with a rotating team of young artists and designers on internal projects and for outside clients like 3M, the Guthrie Theater, MPR, and Target. 

“A perception that people have about JXTA is that it’s the street youth kids making art, that kind of thing. But people get very surprised when we know our stuff,” he says. “We come in and hand in a project that’s on par with a downtown Minneapolis agency—that’s partially because we have to prove ourselves that much more. We’re trying to get away from that [perception], that it’s not just a street youth gang, or getting kids off the street, which has been told to our faces before. It’s changing the conversation.”

While in the past he’s seen companies give themselves a pat on the back for working with JXTA, more and more these corporations are taking them seriously as the bona fide artists that they are. “I think it’s due to the fact that we’ve shown that we can be at the level, and that we want to be at that level. We don’t want them to sugarcoat anything—yeah, we’re learning, but a studio should always be learning as well. You should never want to stop learning. So I think it’s evolving, and they’re willing to work with us because we do pretty good shit.”

When imagining what “next gen” looks like to him and his peers, Patricio kept returning to the roots, reflecting on the foundations that—for better or for worse—have been built by generations that have come before. Embedded in the cover are themes ranging from cultural heritage to gender identity to the fight around climate change, all issues that have seen a tidal shift among younger generations. 

“We don’t have to do what our parents did or do what their parents did, or follow history exactly as it was. We can write our own history,” he says. “But also recognize that a lot of the same concepts that are happening with our generation happened before—there are a lot of big movements that have swung that tide, and it just keeps swinging and keeps evolving.

“And the work won’t ever be done,” he adds, “because that would mean we’re all dead, probably.”

Peering into his own bright future, Patricio doesn’t need to know exactly where he’ll end up—he trusts the process, so long as he’s always exploring new territory while staying true to himself. “Just try to always keep thinking about new ways to tell stories and be authentic,” he says. “Try to be me, and keep that empathy going. It may be hard sometimes, but keep it going.”

Medium: Paint, digital
Currently resides: Minneapolis

Growler cover design by Patricio Delara