Eight years ago Juan Muniz was peddling $20 paintings on the sidewalks at First Friday hoping that someday he’d be a full-time artist supporting his family. Now he’s omnipresent. His work is featured at Holstein’s at the Cosmopolitan, the Oh My Godard and Wyland Signature galleries on the Strip, at Vegas StrEATs, at Beauty Bar events, and on several Downtown buildings. His rabbit character, Felipe, has been a familiar fixture in certain neighborhoods, being worked into a vinyl toy and, soon, he’ll be edible. Yes, edible.
The Sugar Factory is looking into making candy based on Felipe. Muniz is already working with the company on T-shirts and on Dec. 20 and 21 he’ll be in the Paris Las Vegas Sugar Factory store, making art and signing the shirts.
His work has been featured in LA, San Francisco and now Hawaii. “It’s just surreal,” Muniz said. I’m lucky I created a character that people like and fell in love with.”
Muniz says Felipe was born five years ago when artist Danny Roberts suggested Muniz, who’d been selling out at events, exhibits and festivals, make one character and make it personal. Thus, we get Felipe, a forlorn, mischievous, loveable, innocent, reckless and amusing character that ends up in different and sometimes unpredictable predicaments.
The character at Holsteins is similar to Felipe, but rather than a person in a rabbit costume, the Holstein’s character is a pig in a cow costume.
“When I did Holsteins, I knew it was going to be fun. I knew it was going to be big, but I didn’t know how big it was going to be. I was just excited to have art at the Cosmo,” Muniz says. “The fact that I could do something like that on the Strip with so many tourists is amazing.”
But it’s not without hard work and long hours. “I ended up doing every art event, coffee house and festival,” he says. “The art business is a business. I market myself as a brand. I promote it. I push it. I put it out there. I emailed 100 galleries a night every night for a week.”
The 29-year-old artist, father and husband, isn’t only about commercial work. He’s shown in Arts District galleries, Brett Wesley and Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art and is working on a mural for the Arts Factory.