Jackie Barry is making her mark on Denver, with whimsical art appearing on everything from menu boards at Denver Bicycle Cafe to custom beer glasses at Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew. A barista by day and artist by night, Barry came to Denver hoping to join the art community and also enjoy the Mile High lifestyle, which she plans to celebrate by starting Front Range Flag Co., a custom flag business that celebrates outdoor adventures.
Growing up in Philadelphia, and in college she decided to study printmaking. After graduating the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, she worked on prestigious projects, including teaching screen-printing for a summer at Yale, hosting events for the Southern Graphics Council printmaking conference, and designing promotional materials for the Allen Ginsberg Estate.
But the art scene in Philadelphia was becoming overwhelming for Barry. "This sort of rat-race mentality was getting a little paralyzing for me," she says. "It's a lot more competitive in a way that I didn't want to be a part of, and it wasn't inspiring to me. I just felt really stuck."
Barry had visited friends in Colorado many times, and decided to move here two years ago. "The whole outdoor lifestyle is much more of what I'm interested in, rather than a more East Coast metropolitan style," she explains.
She found a warm welcome in Denver. "There's a powerful art community here, definitely, but it's very supportive of one another. Everybody is supporting each other and going to each other's art shows and is just friends with everybody," she explains.
After moving to Denver, Barry tried her hand at an office job, but after two weeks she was utterly bored, so she quit and got a job at Denver Bicycle Cafe. Having worked at cafes before, she knew the environment would be conducive to making friends and maintaining a creative lifestyle.
Today, not only does Barry have time to work on her art, but she also brings her art to work. She decorates the cafe's menu boards with fun drawings and creates fliers, pint glasses and other promotional materials.
Inspired by artists like Miranda July, Margaret Kilgallen and local artists Paul Michel and Eric Dallimore, Barry describes her style as playful and journalistic. "A lot of my work is extremely personal. Definitely a softer kind of take on harsh reality," she says. "I'm only interested in work that I find very sincere and honest."
And Barry's work goes far beyond the coffee shop. Aside from freelance projects, she is dedicating her time to a new venture, Front Range Flag Co., which she's started with a friend from college. "The whole concept is exhibition flags, with a focus on local hikes and the Fourteeners and emphasis on Colorado, but branching out into adventuring in general," she explains.
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Front Range Flag Co. is set to launch in the near future. In the meantime, follow Barry's blog for updates and more information.