Spray Paint Artist Has Over-The-Top Creative Energy

Backhoe operator turned artist makes any surface explode with color

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Some of his work is done by request, others just happen through ideas, conversations or life events. With spray paint as a medium Kratos does not have a typical artist’s tool box.

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.

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As a tribute to the 9-11 Twin Towers event, Kratos created this piece.

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.

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A discarded cabinet door is transformed into otherworldly artwork. While he blends a bit of Salvador Dali, Ryan Bliss and El Greco into pieces, they all retain the unique signature of Kratos. Many of his pieces are woodland scenes, waterscapes, and skylines .

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 into 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 otherworldly, as if he sees other planets, other solar systems.

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Pencil in hand, paper in place - the imagination of every artist starts with these most basic of tools.

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 otherworldly artwork, 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.

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