The woman stared across the aisle. “Can I get a picture of your jacket?” she inquired. “I’m flying out to a new business meeting and asked the Universe for a sign. The words on the jacket are it.”
“VENI, VIDI, VICI” read the script in hot pink—Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
And so, at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Gate 5, original art on a black leather jacket, in pops of fuchsia, periwinkle and white, became a focus of attention as people gathered and read the jacket’s missives, which included “I kiss, I explore, I discover,” and “Not all who wander are lost.”
A product of artist Heps Fury, each blazer, purse, shoe, guitar, grand piano and vintage Jaguar (privately owned and residing in Wynwood) is colorfully personalized to the client who owns it. Jackets are custom-made with leather paint and metallic paint markers and finished with a resin coat for longevity; some include braiding, buttons and embroidery.
Embellishments are only limited to the client’s imagination. The Venezuela-born artist believes it’s all about staying true to oneself: Authenticity, glamour and individuality are de rigueur. Pops of color are a must. “There is no higher joy than color,” says the 40-year-old artist.
As a teen, Heps was down with fashion, color and texture, and graffitied denim jackets using fabric paint and paint markers. The trend took off with friends, but his goal was to breakdance professionally, for which he adopted the name Heps, an acronym for “Helping Every Person See.” Helping them see what, exactly? “Color,” replies the artist emphatically. “Color is my main motivator in life; I surround myself with color. It makes me feel powerful and it awakens the soul. One of my quotes is ‘My blood is hot pink,’ because the color hits me with energy, as does fluorescent yellow. With those two, I am on fire.” He adds, “I consider myself a color activist. We’re in a minimalist era where everyone wants white, which is so empty to me, whereas color is connected to chakras and it’s a connecting force.”
At age 23, Heps co-created the Street Breaks show at Universal Studios Orlando, followed by eight years at Disney World as a stuntman in the Indiana Jones show. Fast-forward to 2009 and the tireless artist created Salvador Live to combine fine art with breakdancing. “It’s about musicality in every performance and within every visual you see,” explains Heps, “The discipline began with Denny Dent, who was the first artist to perform speed painting live in the 1960s. He opened the door. I bring a whole different edge with dancing, action, acrobatic and stunt skills.”
The original show combines live painting with music, costuming, character work and dancers. Captivating and action-packed, it caught the eye of Hard Rock Live, which hired him to open for ZZ Top, Ringo Starr, Earth, Wind & Fire and the Jimi Hendrix Tribute Tour, with rock stars commissioning portraits. Heps has since taken Salvador Live to the NBA, international companies, cruise lines and hotels.
Many of the same subjects in Heps’ performance art are reflected in his fine art, which he paints under his given name, Juan Salvador Llobet. Three-foot-by-three-foot wood-on-resin portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix and Salvador Dalí are commissioned by clients around the world, along with abstracts and personal pop art portraits. Some clients want the fine art pieces transferred to a leather jacket to have Dalí walking city streets. “My Salvador Dalí influence goes back to when I was a child, completely immersed in in my poet father’s encyclopedia,” explains Heps. “I was a loner and spent hours in the book’s art section to learn about the Masters—Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet—to discover their styles, their histories, techniques, what they painted…and from there I was enamored,” he says.
As a child, Heps became an “expert mixer” and created charts that mapped every color combination. “I became a scientist of color and layers,” he says. His fine-art paintings come to life with 10 or more layers of base coats, acrylic and oil paint processes, metallic leafing and resin that create eye-catching pieces. Riotous, colorful layers are woven through the artist’s home studio. Paintings, sculptures, mannequins, musical instruments and a “funky buddha of happiness” collectively provide inspiration for the wearable art that graced the runways of this year’s Miami Fashion Week and are popping up on South Florida’s funkier fashionistas. “I like meeting with people and designing their personal piece of wearable art that’s a reflection of their personalities, hobbies, loves and aspirations,” says Heps. “I like to transform spaces and people through art. Why not traverse the globe wearing something that speaks to who you are?”
For more, visit salvadorlivepaintshow.com.