Julio César Jiménez

Mexican-American street chalk artist uses his paintings to inspire others

Explaining chalk street paintings has never been easy.

For Mexican-American artist, Julio César Jiménez, it has taken about 10 years to develop, explore and explain his skills with chalk.

Jiménez’s love for art began in a high school class, but it was after meeting a street artist that he truly found his passion.

“At first I was in shock,” said Jiménez, who had never been exposed to street chalk art. “But I got into it, I loved it and it’s been a huge part of my life, of my profession.”

Jiménez began street painting more and more frequently until he faced the choice of quitting a regular 9 to 5 job and trading it all in for his art.

“I started doing commercial gigs and advertisement,” Jiménez said. “Then I woke up to the notion that I could actually do this for a living.”

Jiménez got a job with a car manufacturing company and during an entire year he traveled the nation painting cars. He worked with other street chalk artists and finally, during the 2012 Olympics, Jiménez appeared in a popular beer commercial.

It was the commercial, in which Jiménez is seen painting with chalk, that helped his parents and family members understand that his art was more than just a hobby.

“The tables turned when I was on that commercial for 10 seconds,” Jiménez said. “I remember my parents getting phone calls and telling people ‘ese es mi hijo!’”

Jiménez is known for painting elaborate cars, fantasy worlds and 3-dimensional sceneries. This weekend, Jiménez is one of the fourteen renowned artists from eight countries that will be participating in the “DO AC 3D Chalk Art Festival,” an open-air museum of 3D chalk paintings in Atlantic City. During the festival he will be painting a 1932 Delahaye, French classical car surrounded by a tribal village.

“I like to take the beauty of different cultures and put them together in a fantasy world,” he said. “I think it’s very important to find the beauty of what every culture offers.”

But the 39-year-old artist said the best part of his art is when he is able to inspire others to pursue art and follow their dreams.

“It’s different from working in a studio because you’re out in public and people admire the progress, the process,” said Jiménez, who has also been experimenting with paint.  “It’s great for inspiring people.”

He does not regret quitting the 9 to 5 job and said he hopes to continue doing street art for as long as he can. In his Los Angeles home, Jiménez paints at least once or twice a week.

“I hope I can continue doing this forever,” Jiménez said. “But you never know what the art form can transform to. I think street painting has been preparing me for something completely different that hasn’t been figured out yet.”

As he looks back to his career choices, Jiménez said he is “genuinely happy.”

“I’m happy about the decisions that I made,” he said. “The most valuable thing in this world is to be happy. It shows you have to follow your passion, believe in yourself, inspire other people, help out other people and give opportunities—just how I was given support.”

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