Eau Claire: City or Canvas?
Jaden Flores is painting up a storm on the walls of Eau Claire buildings
words & photos by Ron Davis |
Jaden Flores calls himself a “Street Artist,” and though much of his artwork is free for the public to enjoy, he works on commission, bringing to life his client’s ideas for messages, emotions, or visual concepts from airbrushed flames on the gas tank of a motorcycle to a restored, fifty-foot banner on the wall of Banbury Place.
I first became interested in Jaden’s work after seeing a mural on the side of a garage near Lakeshore Elementary School. Being a moto-journalist, I naturally figured the painting featuring the word “RIDE” in six-foot letters was about motorcycling, but given its proximity to one of Eau Claire’s main bike trails, I should have guessed this was more about “silent sports.”
“They wanted an outdoor activity-themed mural, something to inspire others to discover and enjoy the bike trails, parks, and the natural settings that Eau Claire offers,” Jaden said. As is his process, Jaden created a series of images digitally, then transferred them to a photo of the garage. “Working digitally, I can hand my clients a clean layout of their walls. They can see exactly what their mural will look like. The “Bike Mural” superimposes a natural setting over a city map showing some of the bike paths, with the single word “RIDE.”
Jaden’s interest in art was fostered early since his mother is a painter and his father is a tattoo artist. “I’ve had a pencil in my hand ever since I could hold one,” he said. He excelled in art at Elk Mound High School, earning him scholarships to UW-Stout and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, which he attended until the pandemic ended studio work. Since then, he has used books, YouTube videos, and advice from fellow muralists to broaden his skills and grow his business over the last three years.
I don’t bid my work as high as I could because I like what I do and I just want to make an honest living at it.
I feel very rewarded by the work I’m able to do.
local street artist
As a muralist, Jaden works primarily from May to October, but during the winter months, he paints murals inside, creating wall-sized images in dining rooms, living rooms, and children’s bedrooms. Again, his final images are a result of first meeting with clients, coming up with a variety of images, then portraying them digitally.
Jaden says building an independent contracting business has been a struggle. “I had equipment and experience from my house painting days in high school, but for my first year, I made no money, I did everything out of pocket. I even did work for free, just to build my portfolio. I don’t bid my work as high as I could because I like what I do and I just want to make an honest living at it. I feel very rewarded by the work I’m able to do.” The biggest challenge, Jaden said, is finding clients. “Some clients are easy to work with, though sometimes I’ll spend 40-50 hours working on designs until everyone is happy.” Still, Jaden says being a muralist is his dream job. “I can work a 12-hour day and still feel rewarded at the end of it and be excited to go back the next day.”
Jaden said he has a lot of murals lined up for this year, possibly including a two-story, 40-unit apartment wall that stretches to 400 yards. “I like working with small business owners the most,” he said, though his next project is working with 60 other street artists in the Lynn Lake Art Series as they paint a neighborhood in Minneapolis near where he went to school. He has done nearly 20 murals in Eau Claire, both interior and exterior.
You can see a portfolio of his murals by searching “@jayflo99” on Instagram, or you can always hop on your bike and see some of them in real-time at places like the Banbury Building, Silly Serano, Forge, the Passion Board Shop, and the Sticker Spot. Contact Jaden at firstname.lastname@example.org.