Kratos, the popular video-game hero of “God of War,” and Kratos, the not-so-well-known Payson spray paint artist, share obvious similarities: bald heads, bearded chins, scars of battle, and colorful tattoos.
Oh yeah — and a rollicking, over-the-top creative energy.
A character in a game, however, cannot match Kratos Lira’s inner strength, a drive to create, and the skill to transform a bare surface into a spray-painted marvel of design.
Kratos’ current project is helping bring life to a wall with a mural and a salute to the many generations of veterans. You can see it on Highway 87, going south just past the Twin Pines shopping area.
Lira, a construction worker, worked a backhoe with precision and skill for 20 some odd years. Originally from San Diego, Lira and his family gravitated to Arizona so his daughter could attend the University of Arizona. Eventually, they found their way to Payson and have recently purchased a home.
Nine years ago, he injured a knee, but continued to work until the need for surgery arose, two years ago. He went to physical therapy, but never recovered enough to resume his construction work. That put a crimp in his paychecks.
But in truth, Kratos, also known as Giovanni Lira, has always been an artist at heart. A tattoo artist friend recognized his talent and encouraged him to put his drawing skills into another medium — tattooing. Kratos said ‘no’ to that. So his friend suggested spray painting.
Intrigued by a challenge, Kratos splattered his art with cans of pressurized, colored liquid. He discovered Brandon McConnell, a famous spray paint artist, and viewed his YouTube videos. This introduction provided a variety of skills for applying his art.
Using common household tools, Kratos regularly surprises onlookers with his deft ability to spray paint original art onto any surface. Doors, tables, cabinets, tiles, poster board, glass, whatever. He transforms ordinary objects to works of art as he smudges and smears and splatters and sprays.
Creative people always find an outlet, sometimes more than one.
Kratos’ creativity craves a constant expression — airbrush techniques need exploration, duradangos look for an outlet, glazes await discovery. Kratos’ electric energy surges through conversations, throwing off sparks of insight.
Careful with his colors, Kratos’ instinctive style blends complimentary primaries together as distinctive designs take shape. Many of his scenes are other-worldly, as if he sees other planets, other solar systems.
His workshop explodes with art. Paintings are stacked here and there, some look finished, others abandoned; tools lie on a workbench as if just thrown on the table moments ago.
Cloths drape over areas of the studio, hiding important pictures, covering that which is private. One feels the comfort zone of this space. Intense work and creative ideas are born here and manifest themselves on any surface Kratos finds available.
Sometimes life imitates art, or does art imitates life? In this case, the similarities of a game character and the artist blend, flow and mix into each other much like the spray-painted work Lira produces on a regular basis.