From the Ring to the Drawing Board
"You’re not a wimp growing up here for sure," Jarred Santos said as he showed some of his recent art. "But it’s changing. The Cal Neva steak deal used to be 2.99 for steak and eggs and now it’s 5.99 which is still cool. But I don’t want it to be $13.99 when I’m 30 …"
Santos, a 2015 national collegiate boxing champion at 132 pounds and member of the UNR team which won the overall national championship after a two-decade drought, now spends hours alone working on drawings, many of them depicting a seedy Reno -- motel kids who hop around, drug users, castaways, gamblers and the like.
“My art is agressive cartooning that’s not super well structured or traditional at all," he said. "I use bright colors and I have a lot of greens. I model some of my stuff off of old skateboard art, punk rock posters, album art."
Santos also wants to instill pride and awareness in a Reno he finds is being pushed away rather than helped.
A Struggling Artist with Reno Pride
Santos graduated with an art degree from UNR with a minor in psychology, but for now he says he works for a cleaning and restoration company to pay the bills. He’d like to live off of art and wants to get into computers more to design logos.
Like other effective movements such as the Keep Tahoe Blue drive, he wants to create one for Reno pride. "I grew up with everyone wanting to leave Reno. And when California kids come here to study, they all talk about how cool it’s to be from California. But I like that I’m from Reno," he said.
He has an Instagram where he promotes his art, but doesn't believe he'll cash in through that platform anytime soon. His Instagram bio is: Reno Struggling Artist. "There’s not a lot of money in art but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do," he said. "And I still want to eventually live off of it. But I do another job to get by, even if I don’t get paid well there either, so I am struggling."
Sticking to Simple
Even if he is thinking of using computers more, he still relies mostly on pen, pencil and paper, as well as color markers and Sharpies.
"Simple is better," he said. "Why fix it if it’s not broke? I don’t think art should become fully based off of computers and having to know that craft, because there is a whole separate craft that is also involved in it, that I don’t think should be lost in the transition."
He'd like to paint but says it's too expensive. "When I was going to school, I would get discounts and coupons to go to the art store. It made it easier. Going to the arts store now you can drop a couple of hundred dollars on paint, and that’s why I don’t paint," he said.
Gentrification in Progress
He says change is coming quickly to Reno, but that some of it to him is just inhumane, especially when old motels are razed to the ground, reducing options for affordable housing.
"There are tons of kids who grew up in those motels, who would hop from room to room," he said. "For people to just assume they need to tear them down because it’s an eyesore or because there’s hookers or whatever, it’s also going to affect the community in a negative way. We’ll have even more homeless kids. If we are tearing those down, to put up a Whole Foods, I think that’s stupid… And also sometimes maybe in five years there still will be nothing there."
A Question of Perspectives
With the so-called fight on blight, Santos says too much emphasis is put on eliminating the blight, rather than thinking of what might have caused the blight and how to help people living in the blight.
But he says, as an artist, he can only get people to think.
"We as a community need to stay educated on everything and look at things at face value and look at what affects what. It’s going to take everybody period," he said. "Do we allow heroin drug motels all over the place and embrace it or do we tear it down? We need to address the problem that led to the heroin problem."