25 Stories: Patricio De Lara

A young person holding a bottle with a decoratively designed label. Title: 25 stories for 25 years, Patricio De Lara

25 stories for 25 years. Since 1995, Juxtaposition Arts has provided arts education, employment, and development opportunities for young people in North Minneapolis. In 2020, 25 years since we started our work, we’re sharing 25 stories that help illustrate the impact, growth, and learning opportunities these 25 years have provided. We’re asking some of our alumni, artist collaborators, donors, clients, board and community members, and current program participants to share their stories. Follow along as we share the impact JXTA has had in just a quarter of a century.

Want to help ensure our legacy of impact continues? Donate today! Gifts of any amount will ensure we can continue to provide programming, employment, and a space for creativity for young people. Thank you!


At 21 years old, JXTA’s Graphic Design Lab Assistant and Communications Intern, Patricio De Lara, is working with Dangerous Man Brewing Co. to produce his first solo exhibition on one of the most unlikely of canvases – a line of beer bottles. 

Through JXTA’s youth employment program and with support from Greta Kotz, JXTA’s Graphic Design Lab Lead, Patricio has designed artwork, branding, marketing, and packaging for Dangerous Man’s four limited edition winter releases. Through his illustrative lens of place and storytelling, Patricio’s artwork visualizes the connection between humankind and the natural environment. “We think about narrative and we think about a certain experience,” says Patricio. “Film, books, painting, fine art – all of that is storytelling in a way. And graphic design is also storytelling. We’re giving a face to a story and bringing it to life.”


The quality of work being produced for this client project speaks to the immersive experience of our JXTALabs program and the creative genius of our young people. Here, youth ages 14 to 21 are mentored and trained by professional artists and designers to produce services and products for local and regional clients. Patricio has been working in JXTA’s Graphic Design Lab for two and a half years and boasts a number of client projects under his belt. “Fortunately, this project kinda fell in my lap,” says Patricio. “Dangerous Man wanted to hire a youth apprentice from JXTA’s Graphics Lab to create four beer labels for their limited releases. We gave them a selection of personal, internal, and client projects that Graphics apprentices had been putting out and they happened to like the botanical elements in one of my pieces. But the best part about this project for me is that they said ‘we want you to create a piece, create a theme, create something. Just make sure it has vegetation in it.’ So this is where I got to create a story.”

In his creative practice, Patricio primarily draws on lived experiences and connections to place to drive his work. Due to the nature of the client, he was able to create an exploratory theme for this project. Of his process, he says, “With client work, I look at what some really great designers are doing and try to gear it towards the client’s needs. But when it’s something more personal or experimental, I look to my past and my memories because there’s a very specific feeling that a memory has. You don’t really know how fond memory is gonna be until further down the line. So I try to go within myself and within my past experiences, within my culture. I was born in Mexico, a place in which I spent a lot of time, but also have spent a lot of time away from. I’m trying not to worry about creating for others. If you create something that you like, most likely others will like it as well. And if it’s visceral, if it’s raw, if it’s genuine and has thought behind it, I think that’s the most important part to creating.” 


The staggered release of the limited-edition beers has already begun with the first and second beers having been released in November and December 2019. Upcoming releases are planned for February and March and will be paired with VIP experiences prior to their public release events. Each beer release will be clad in artwork depicting intersections of human and natural life. “Since there are four labels, I wanted them to be influenced by different places in the world,” Patricio says. “The first one was inspired by a large US city, like New York. The second was inspired by Spain and Mexico. They have a lot of architectural similarities and Mexico is a place I have experience with. The third will be Iceland, so these big landscapes and mountains. And the last one is Japan. Through this project, I’m trying to explore and travel through research while kinda having this micro-adventure in these beer labels. It’s kind of an odd place for a story to live, but why not?”

In addition to producing artwork for the client, Patricio is also cutting his teeth in creating a full marketing package for the releases – including material for web and print – with support from Gabby Coll, JXTA’s Communications Manager. This work experience will serve him in the future when he is ready to release his own project. “My role is storyteller, project executor, and marketing manager,” Patricio says. “I have to step up a little bit and bring the story together in a way that incorporates strategic marketing and is comprehensible to its audience. And be able to communicate every aspect of why I made this decision as a designer and where the story is going.”


“Collaborating with JXTA and Patricio has created something more fun and beautiful then we anticipated,” says Sarah Bonvallet, Dangerous Man Brewing Co.’s Co-Owner and Creative Director. “Building relationships in our community that feel both empowering and experimental in nature is inspiring. The professionalism that JXTA and Patricio have brought to this project has been top-notch and makes me look to the future with bright eyes.”


Patricio recently graduated from the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), but he says the heuristic learning experiences he’s had at JXTA have built a foundation for him to excel in his practice. “Compared to JXTA,” says Patricio, “the curriculum [at MCTC] moves at a snail’s pace. It’s pretty rudimentary compared to the experiences we cultivate here through client projects, skills training, and through the experiences that we’re able to have with and learn from those around us.” 


Projects and collaborations like this one are changing perceptions around what design can do and who can design. “I think more people are beginning to understand what Northside is capable of and what the neighborhood really is,” says Patricio. “But also, staying true to the culture and keeping the roots is the most important part. Many people had never heard of anything like JXTA’s model and that’s the best feeling. Being a part of that work is changing the way I see design and creativity and where those things can come from and the design sector itself. JXTA is doing marvelous things to change that landscape.” 


We are excited to work with clients that understand our values and believe in the work just as much as we do. “I love how JXTA has created a business that builds young people’s skills and confidence through the arts,” says Sarah. “It’s amazing to see all the collaborative projects happening. We need spaces like JXTA where individuals can come together and create beautiful things that reflect all sides of our world.”


What’s next for Patricio? His work has been featured on the cover of Growler Magazine’s January 2020 issue as a result of working on this Dangerous Man project. Make sure the remaining Dangerous Man Brewing Co. release events are on your calendar! Find more information about the VIP beer release experiences on Dangerous Man Brewing Co.’s website.