“I Want To Be An Artist That Is Known For Changing The World” – An Interview With Miami Artist Alexander Mijares

Photo Credit: Alexander Mijares

Alexander Mijares burst upon the art scene around 2011 and has been making his way to the top ever since. Inspired by Miami and his Latin American heritage, Mijares’ art is known for its colorful scenes and unique structure. This uniqueness isn’t unlike his artistic journey, where he went off the beaten path to find success. Early on in his career, Alexander realized that art galleries only want artists who they can mold into their version of success. Alexander wanted to be an artist on his own terms, and though it might have been harder, he struck out on his own. 

Through social media and online outlets, Alexander Mijares’ fame has only grown. He has worked with the likes of David Beckham, Tori Kelly, and even Mr. 305 himself, Pitbull. He has been named One of the Top 10 Most Influential Artists by both Forbes and Elite Daily, and he is also the youngest artist in 50+ years to be named the cover and poster artist of the 2014 Coconut Grove Art Festival. His work has been recognized by outlets such as GQ, DETAILS Magazine, and The Huffington Post. 

Also a philanthropist, Alexander works closely with charities in Miami such as Blue Missions’ Agent of Change Program and Miami’s Overtown Youth Center. Most recently he worked with the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to create a mural for the hospital’s patients. His influence in the Miami art scene is unquestioned, and his artistic vision can only grow from here. 

Haute Living was able to chat with Alexander Mijares about his journey, his most-special pieces, and his advice for the artists of the future. 

Photo Credit: Alexander Mijares

HL: Why did you become an artist? 

Alexander Mijares (AM): Well, I had just moved out, I was doing my masters, and I got my first apartment. And I was like, “Man, I have zero money for art.” But, as a kid, I’ve always doodled, and if I could do that when I was a kid, that means it’s still got to be in me; I should be able to paint whatever art I want. So, I remember going to the store and buying a roll of canvas. And I put everything on the floor because I didn’t have even enough money for an easel. I started painting and I’m like “This is horrible!”

2 weeks later I finally finished the piece. I remember bringing it to this place where you can stretch the canvas and put it with the wood and stuff so I can hang it. And, while I was there I remember talking to the guy and he’s like, “You painted on the wrong side of the canvas…” *laughs* I was painting on the fabric side! I actually still have that painting today, but that’s where it all started. Then I started doing these paintings where it was just a bunch of little shapes together so that when you step back you end up having this beautiful piece. So little by little, it started to evolve into what looked like stained glass. 

The time that I really felt like an artist though, was probably 8 months down the road. A friend of mine calls me up and says “We have this furniture store in the design district that’s called Baltus, we’ll put your art up, and we’ll do a show.” And, I thought to myself ‘There’s no way anybody is going to buy my art. The only person that likes my stuff is my mom.’ But, I did my first show. I exhibited 22 paintings, and I sold 20 paintings that night. And that’s when Mijares, the artist, was born.  

HL: How has Miami inspired your art?

AM: All the colors of Miami, the dancing, the Latin culture – that’s where all the bright colors come from. My family being from Cuba and Spain, it’s in our blood; the dancing, the loud music, the screaming really loud when you talk, all that kind of fun stuff. To me, it’s like action lines and tons of color, so I feel like Miami definitely inspired my color palette and also the movement in my pieces. A lot of times you’ll go into a gallery and you’ll see a painting and it looks beautiful, but it doesn’t move you. Like, when you hear Latin music, – you feel that beat, and you start kind of shaking. That’s what I wanted to feel with my art, I wanted you to want to jump into that painting and to dance with the piece. And that’s why you see a lot of quick-moving lines on my work because I wanted to portray that feeling of movement, of happiness, of culture, of joy, – all packed into one punch.

HL: What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve created? 

 

Welcome To Miami

Photo Credit: Alexander Mijares

AM: So, the [Welcome to Miami] piece was really special because I had one mentor as I got into the art world. He was a gallery owner and he said, “You don’t want to be a one-trick pony. You have to constantly keep evolving. You have to get better. You have to force yourself to change and get better.” What I loved about this ‘Welcome to Miami’ piece is the fact that it incorporated bits of every single style I’ve done since day one until now, and mixing mediums –  you have pencil, you have acrylic, you have oil, and you have pen. And, it was really cool that I incorporated several things that represent Miami because I’ve never done that before. My style has always been inspired by Miami, but I have never included in my paintings anything related to Miami. In that piece, you have a lifeguard tower, the sailboats, the Miami skyline. There are actual [Miami] things in it. It’s not just inspired by the colors, the dance, and party life of Miami. So, that was really cool. 

Photo Credit: Alexander Mijares

The ballerina dancer – that one is super special to me because my mother was a ballerina for 20 something years. And, I remember being picked up from school and I would sit there and watch her either teach or actually do ballet. And, I always was so fascinated by the discipline and the strength; there’s so much power. And the sculpture of a dancer is kind of like an homage to my mom. And it was cool because the ballerina also was the first time I’ve ever done a sculpture that size. This thing is 98 inches tall, it’s the life-size of a person, and it weighs about 500 pounds. And to me, it was one of those next-level pieces.

Photo Credit: Alexander Mijares

[The Motherhood piece] This is a new chapter in my life. I’m going to be bringing a child into the world, I’ve got a son coming! Hopefully, I get a little painter out of him. *laughs* I always thought that was just a really special piece. I have it hanging right next to my dinner table. It’s a piece that I feel like a lot of mothers can relate to, and, especially in a time where we live today where there is just so much body shaming, I wanted a piece that made you feel comfortable in your skin; made you realize that bringing a child into the world is beautiful, that being yourself is beautiful. It’s not just so much like ‘here’s my wife that’s pregnant’ – I want it to just convey that all women are beautiful, all women are strong, all women are tough. 

HL: I see you work with the Beckhams quite frequently! How did that come about? 

AM: About 2 years ago, someone told me that the Beckhams were going to be in town. So, I went ahead and painted these soccer balls and I was able to get into a VIP event where I gifted the soccer balls to him and George Moss. It was like a “Hey! Thank you!” and that was it. Then a couple of weeks later, I get a call saying, “Hey! We got your soccer balls. We have them on our desk. We love them! We want you to do this mural for us, are you interested?” And, this is the one that’s in Brickell that’s about 5,000 square feet.

David Beckham in front of the mural designed by artist Alexander Mijares
David Beckham in front of the mural designed by artist Alexander Mijares

Photo Credit: Instagram: @davidbeckham

And then, they [The Beckhams] ended up coming back to Miami recently instead of being in London because of COVID. And they were looking for someone to do an art day with their family. So, I set up an undisclosed location, as I wanted to keep their privacy, and I brought them all over and we did an entire evening. I thought it was going to be an hour, super quick, but we ended up being there for 4 or 5 hours.

And a couple of days later I get a call from Victoria [Beckham] saying “Hey! My son [Cruz] would love to do a mural with you.” So, we did that. And then he just became so obsessed with it, and we just kind of built a relationship because he wants to get into the arts more and he’s trying to dabble in all kinds of different things to build up his portfolio. 

Cruz Beckham and Alexander Mijares

Photo Credit: Alexander Mijares

HL: What advice would you give to younger artists who want to follow in your footsteps? 

AM: It takes lots and lots of work. Just when you think you’ve done all the work, you need more. I always tell people “Look, do it as you feel. Don’t do what an art teacher tells you. Don’t stay inside the lines. Color outside the lines. Color what makes you feel.” My biggest thing is “Don’t let society decide your art style or your art career.” People have been known to critique, saying “Oh, you don’t know how to paint!” Of course, you know how to paint! It’s just that society critiques you into thinking that you don’t! You’re an artist the first day you pick up a brush. So, keep going and don’t let anybody tell you what to do. Just stay in your lane. The worst thing that you can do as an artist is trying to compare yourself to other artists because it will mentally destroy you.

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