About Shop Sesh: Every month, I’ll visit the curators, artists, builders and designers who enjoy a little kush to help them push their creative boundaries. It just so happens they’re all also doing pretty impressive things to cultivate the arts community in Colorado and beyond. We’ll have a smoke and a chat in the spaces that often inspire them most — their own. If you’d like to request a sesh or have one to recommend, e-mail me here.
Shop: Like Minded Productions, 2700 Walnut St., Denver
Interview with: Jonathan Lamb and Michael Ortiz, co-founders
Sesh: Blue Dream, The Herbal Cure (medical sales only)
As painters, roommates, best friends and business partners, Jonathan Lamb and Michael Ortiz are obviously like-minded. Since co-founding a collective for artists in a RiNo warehouse in 2007, Like Minded Productions specializes in custom murals, digital media, graphics and printing for projects worldwide.
They are regulars at Art Basel gallery shows, create custom top sheets for Icelantic skis and Never Summer boards, can call Phish a client and found a friend in fan Lennox Lewis, the heavyweight boxer.
Locally, Cold Crush, TAG Burger Bar, Denver Kush Club, Galvanize and The 1UP are just a few of the walls where they’ve left their mark. (You can catch the two in action Saturday, July 26 in Denver at Meininger art supply. More info at the end of the interview.) So, instead of paying a visit to Like Minded HQ, I met up with Lamb (34) and Ortiz (32) at The Herbal Cure (THC) at 985 S. Logan St. in Denver, where they are putting the finishing touches on “Seed to Smoke,” a commissioned piece spanning 1,900 square feet across two walls. After a full day on the job, we hotboxed THC’s vintage caboose that sits in the parking lot and talked spray paint and sativa.
You guys go way back. How did you come together?
MO: So randomly…on an elevator in my old apartment building almost ten years ago.
JL: I asked him what he did and he said, “I’m a professional artist.” I said, “Well, so am I.” He invited me to come by and check out his work. We’ve been best friends ever since.
MO: We started painting together and got acclimated to working with each other. It took a few years to hone in on how to make what we were doing into an actual business.
JL: In the beginning, we were two strangers that found out we had this shared artistic background and vision. It’s been a constant push from both of us toward the same goal, and now we’re ten years in and it worked.
What’s your take on the street art scene in Denver?
MO: It’s crazy how fast it’s growing.
JL: A lot of it is a function of doing graffiti prevention murals for the city when we first started. The work we did was so well received, it gave us the exposure that allowed us to go into other communities to paint. From there, it spiraled into all of these connections with other artists from attending mural festivals and bringing not just ideas, but also artists back to Denver to contribute.
How exactly do you tackle a painting together?
MO: By now, we have it down — but it took some time for sure. I’m right-handed and he’s left-handed, so it’s pretty easy to know what side of the wall we’re each starting on.
JL: We cut series of art like bands cut albums. There might be 20 songs in a series and there are always songs we write between albums. But the goal is always the album.
MO: And the live show is the live show.
JL: We mix up parts from all of our albums and we even metaphorically relate to a band: “All right, you’re playing bass today, I’m playing electric guitar. You hold it down and I’m going to riff right on top of what you’re doing.”
How do you approach your live painting shows?
JL: You definitely have to plan to do something in a few hours. It’s not the time to experiment, so we rely on the scales and the notes we know how to play.
MO: We usually get all of the specs sent to us in advance, so we can make somewhat of a plan.
JL: It’s really about the art of performance and improvisation.
MO: And smoking weed.
Obviously music plays a big role in your process?
MO: It’s an addiction. We have a ton of music and are into pretty much everything.
JL: When you paint for a month on a mural, your playlist gets tired fast. We really got after it on a six-week project on 28th and Larimer by our studio. We were working until 2 a.m. most nights, so we had DJs come by at night to keep it going for us.
Your mural for The Herbal Cure is seriously impressive. How did you develop the concept?
JL: It’s our interpretation of the core of THC’s mission. From the very moment the seed is planted until the moment you smoke it — it’s all about sustainability.
MO: It brings together the shared ethos of Jamaica and Colorado. It stands for the bridge that’s building between our state and their country. Colorado is the hybrid for growing and they’re coming to us for knowledge. It’s up to us to share the model to help farmers step up their game and develop systems that can make a huge economic difference in their country.