California transplant Jantzen Peake's art comes out on the darker side of things, with a range of twisted skulls and grinning demons sitting adjacent to cartoon characters and goofy grinning ghosts. Even the logo for his business arm, Peake Graffix LLC, is a geometric fusion of a rat skull with a mammoth skull, though he notes that locals often take it for the Mandalorian symbol (think Boba Fett) of Star Wars fame. But just because his art is vastly different from the work of Renaissance masters doesn't make Peake's work any less important, at least not from his perspective.
"I believe all artists are superheroes," he says. "I put it like I'm Batman. ... The conservative mind can say, 'Oh, you're evil,' but what is he really doing? He's going where nobody else goes. He's going into the darkness, where the crime is. He's going there to save people and to fight crime."
Peake draws inspiration from many places, such as a pop-up book of monsters he had as a kid, movies and cartoons. As such, most of his work is self-inspired and fantastical — he says that he draws inspiration from everything around him.
"I had one piece that I did called 'Night Bombing,'" he says. "It's a skull surfer, surfing a wave at night. I saw waves in Van Gogh's 'Starry Night,' so I wanted to bring his style and my style together and see what I'd create."
The Springs' artistic market has not welcomed him with the open arms that might greet someone with tamer tastes. He's found it challenging to find spaces for his art.
"For the edgier art I do, there's not a lot of places to show," he says. "To be a full-time artist is not realistic in a sense, here. But I'm trying to build that the best I can."
Mostly, he vends his work at the Flea Market, but he's shown at Fifth Element Gallery and will be taking part in a show at Voodoo Leatherworks, scheduled for September. He also holds a weekly sketching group at the Downtown Perk. Though he's had better luck showing in Denver, he feels it's important for him to keep pushing his art in the Springs; he sees himself as a trailblazer for the weird kids who love nothing more than doodling monsters.
"I feel a need here," he says. "That's why I try to do what I can to provide a path for this younger generation [of artists]."