For me, an important part to connecting to someone’s art is connecting to their story as well. I recently met an artist by the name of Jake Prendez and while I was very impressed by his art, I was also very interested in journey. The pieces that Jake creates involve elements from his life, culture and the plight within the Latin culture. One of my favorites of his would be a painting of Maria Felix who was an iconic Mexican actress. It was this piece that instantly had me striking up a conversation with the artist. I was able to interview Jake on his personal journey of becoming an artist and his involvement within his community through mentoring young artists. This is his story… 

Where did the inspiration come from for you to start painting/drawing?

I have always found myself drawn to art (no pun intended). Even as a young child I was obsessed with art and drawing. Through out my K-12 experience, art and being an artist was discouraged. It wasn’t till I was in my 30’s that I rediscovered art and painting. Now I work with youth and community to show the power of art as a tool of self-expression and community development.


What were some of the first things you drew?

As a kid I’m sure it was about super heroes and my family now I try to infuse cultural imagery with pop culture, tattoo and rockabilly aesthetics.


What pieces are you known for?

It kind of depends on the circle of people. Some know me for my cultural paintings of Mayans and indigenismo. Others know me for my paintings of Chicano cultural icons like Fernando Valenzuela, Bob from La Bamba, and of course Morrissey. I’m also known for my paintings of mainstream icons like Han Solo, Princess Leia or Johnny Cash. Others like my tongue and cheek work like Charlie Brown Pride and then others know my political poster art from Pro Immigration and anti-hate campaigns. I guess it really depends on who you are talking to.


I purchased a beautiful piece of Maria Felix by you. Why did you decide to paint her image?

She is such an icon of Mexican cinema. I have a friend covered in Maria Felix tattoos, who turned me on to her years back. The painting was for a show I hosted a couple months back entitled Tributo al Cine Mexicano.

What can you share about the Art Jam Collective/Buen Pastor Mural Project?

Wow! How can I keep this short? It was one of the greatest experiences in one the worst periods of my life. 10 LA artists organized for a year to fund a delegation to Guanajuato Mexico to paint 2 murals at the Buen Pastor shelter. For two weeks we painted, got to know the community and worked with the most amazing group of children, teaching them painting, photography, stenciling, drawing and more. I came back from Guanajuato a changed man.


We spoke briefly about your struggles growing up and discovering that you had dyslexia. What has pushed you to overcoming these events in your life?

I didn’t find out I was dyslexic till I was about 34 and done with the course work for my masters’ degree. I was constantly told I was not good enough or smart enough. Today, I work with youth empowering them, giving them a voice and a means of self expression. Perhaps I had to go through what I went through so that I could make sure it didn’t happen to others.


You can find more on the artist on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest by Searching Jake Prendez




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