Street Style: Artist Jose Roman on Frida Kahlo and What's In His Bag

Art and fashion go hand in hand, taking cues from each other. This week we spotted the perfect combination of art and fashion near Colfax and Broadway. Up-and coming artist Jose Roman, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to Colorado when he was seven year old. He describes his style as "unique, random and fun." So fun that we couldn't resist stopping to chat with him about art, fashion and where he shops.  "I express myself in many ways," he told us. "The art I make and the way I dress is a part of that. Fashion is all about personality. We are all so different with different ideas, and that's how fashion evolves:  from everyone around us."
Roman painted the face of Frida Kahlo framed by roses on the back of his jacket. "She is one of my biggest inspirations," he says of the Mexican artist. "I relate to her. She was so beautiful, cultural and in her own element — with big fancy earrings, colorful clothing, floral designs and her just being herself as an artist. She went through a lot in her life and was a very strong woman."

At the time Roman did this painting, he was going through a creative block and not drawing; he made the jacket as a tribute to Kahlo and to get out of his rut. "I love her story and I wanted to come up with new art, new ideas and new fashion," he explains, "so I used this black jacket my dad gave me and I just started painting on it with acrylic. That's how my jacket came to life."  

Keep reading for more from Roman.

Style inspirations and icons: "Everyone I see on the street inspires me, so street style itself. If I see something cool on the street that catches my eye, I try to put my own spin on it. The people who stand out to me in downtown Denver or on 16th Street are usually punks and skater kids. I love flannels and Vans. Skater kids have really cool style. They are comfortable but look cool...I'm really influenced by the local DIY scene as well. Missy Elliot and her cool videos and style have always influenced me; the dancing in her videos is so dope. I would like to be in one of her videos one day but that means I need to definitely practice, practice and grow as a dancer."

Favorite color: "That's a hard one because I like many different colors: black purple, green, turquoise, and I've been getting into gold lately, too. I like many colors and can't stick to one." 
Favorite accessory: "I like rings and necklaces for sure. I change my septum ring with different outfits. It's like jewelry for my nose. My accessories definitely enhance my style."

Style mantra:
"It really depends on my mood. I think to myself, 'Do I wanna be comfortable today? Or do I want to wear something I know looks good on me?' Each day I try to come up with something new unless I'm in a hurry or I'm feeling sad. If I feel very comfortable and look good, it enhances my mood. If I don't feel good, the outfit is not complete without confidence. "

Shops at: "Literally everywhere. Thrift stores, first and foremost. You can find such random, crazy, cheap stuff. Most of my fashion comes from thrift stores. Forever 21 and H&M also have cool stuff. I have also found some really cool stuff at Walmart and Kmart. No joke. I shop online. I feel like I am always looking for something that is different and that catches my attention." 

Of this outfit, he says: "Today my look is very punk because of my shoes, the black skinny jeans and the flannel. I don't like sticking to one specific look. I like boots and skinny pants, but I also like baggy shorts, loose-fitting flannels, beanies and Vans. I have a skater look sometimes. I can relate to the skater kids' style, but also their way of life: riding your board with the wind in your face. You feel free."  
We asked Roman what kind of things he carries with him on his day-to-day commute, and he shared some items with us that help illustrate his story and style.
Inside Roman's paint-splattered Jansport backpack were a variety of objects: two sketch books for art and writing, a Canon digital camera, a pack of line-painter markers, a wallet with a crescent moon, a small bag with an elephant that holds his passport, a Gameboy Advance SP and a pair of headphones. With those, Roman displays all the characteristics of a budding artist ready to paint the world.

Remember, Denver, we all in charge of our own destiny and can use our creativity to change the world around us — even if it is one painting or one outfit at a time.

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Mauricio Octavio Rocha graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in English writing and a minor in cinema studies; He has been writing about fashion and style for Westword since 2012. Rocha also writes songs for his music and art project, VULGAR FEVER.
Contact: Mauricio Rocha