JC RIVERA PAINTS A KNOCKOUT ON THE THREADLESS GARAGE DOOR
Here’s another original to make the Threadless office just a little easier on the eyes. To mirror Threadless’s fighting spirit, we called on JC Rivera to outfit one of our garage doors with his main homie and original character, The Bear Champ. We asked him a few questions afterward to get a better understanding of the man behind the carnivorous champion. Keep reading to see what we learned about JC Rivera and to take a peek at the winning work he did for us!
The Bear Champ living up to the hype on our garage door!
Tell me a little about yourself! Where are you from?
I’m a dude that likes to paint on everything. I also like fried rice, sushi, and peanut butter - but not together. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but currently live in the best city in the world: CHICAGO!
What specifically sparked your interest in street art and what compelled you to stick with it?
It’s fun and spontaneous, in my opinion. I do a lot of other stuff, but painting walls is what I like most. The interaction with people passing through is the best.
JC Rivera focusing on some fine lines.
Who is The Bear Champ? Who/what inspired it?
The Bear Champ is a character I created back in 2010. It represents a bit of myself. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a boxer and my mom wouldn’t let me. You know… overprotective mom!!! So I never got a chance to break someone’s face in the ring. The Bear Champ takes care of that for me now.
Why do you continue to reinvent The Bear Champ instead of keeping him consistent?
I like to keep it fresh! Glad you noticed!
There’s no escaping The Bear Champ’s reign!
Isn’t there something paradoxical about a natural predator fighting with boxing gloves?
It takes the killing away… I don’t believe killing is a solution, but a good fight with a nice pair of gloves, some rules, and a handshake at the end would fix a lot of problems.
What kind of art do you create other than painting?
I paint, design, sculpt, and customize urban vinyl toys.
You’re never too old to play with toys this cool.
How would you describe your artistic style?
I don’t really know. I just like to be creative.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everything around me. I try to get the most out of everything I see or hear.
Some inspiring words from the champ.
How did you hear about Threadless?
Everywhere! I always wanted to submit designs, but I felt that they weren’t strong enough. Instead I ate ice cream and watched Seinfeld reruns.
Why do you think your art fits in with Threadless?
Character creation… that’s what we are all about! By the way, thanks for the opportunity to paint at Threadless! Shout out to Lance Curran for hooking it up. :)
How did you decide what to paint on Threadless’s garage door?
I wanted to paint the Bear Champ because it’s the most recognizable character in my work, and I enjoy painting it. I feel like it was a perfect fit for Threadless. Simple and fun!
What does art do for you as a human being? How does it help you grow?
It helps me stay young (inside), and connect with others. I’m not the most outgoing person.
Do you ever create backstories for the subjects of your paintings that the viewer would never know about?
Yeah, all the time! I always have a story for my paintings. Sometimes I keep it to myself and let the viewer make their own interpretation. I like when other people share what they see.
A closer view of Rivera’s work at Threadless HQ
You’ve created toys modeled after the Instagram logo and the John Hancock Center. Why are you drawn towards making art in the form of toys?
I love designing toys! Seeing an idea made in 3D that you can hold and play with as if you were five years old again is the best! It’s almost as exciting as when my kids were born. ;) Just kidding!
JC Rivera hitting the streets. We hope he’s on the right side of that barbed wire!
What advantages do certain mediums of art have over others. Digital? Painted Murals? Toys?
All have their advantages and disadvantages. I prefer to paint with real paint, but it would be nice if you could undo a mistake on a painting or mural as easy as you can when working in digital.
What’s it like creating street art in Chicago during the brutal winter months?
Yeah! Brutal! I only do it if necessary and if it’s a paid gig. Other than that, nope. That’s when I think about Puerto Rico a lot. :)
The Bear Champ showing his soft side after all.