A walk through the streets of San José can feel like a movie with people singing out numbers and names of products in hopes of enticing a buyer.
In the Plaza de la Cultura, Claudio makes his own music that combines a mixture of sanding, beat boxing and foot stomping.
“I bring the sound of happiness,” Claudio said. “It’s like cumbia.”
The artist makes hand painted glass plate souvenirs for tourists and locals. Crowds watch him turn ordinary round glass pieces to statements of Costa Rican culture. It’s a craft he says he learned from the street.
“My grandfather taught me to draw, but the two are very different things” he explained. “I learned to paint in the streets. I learned from many people who all have different techniques.”
His skill has taken him around the country and the world. Claudio says people bring him to their house to paint different projects. He also worked for a Norwegian cruise company. During the day he was a wine expert, but the rest of the time he painted designs on the ship such as a big bear.
However, Claudio says there is no place he would rather be than in the streets in the open space using his big personality to interact with people.
Down the street, José Herran spends all day painting pictures of scenes from Costa Rica. Herran is from the BriBri culture in Talamanca. However, he calls San José home. It was here in San José that he learned to paint.
Like Claudio, Herran says he loves the streets, and finds it relaxing to paint outside. However, the economy has made it so he doesn’t make as much as he did in the past.
He sells his large creations for 15,000 colons and his smaller ones for 3,000 colons. Thats’ about $30 down to $6.
“It’s a very cheap price,” he says.
Despite the bargain, Herran says he has a hard time selling his large pieces and that more people will take a small one. Locals recognize the deal more, he said, and they are his best customers, and not tourists.
Claudio has the same luck. He says after painting all day, he may sell two or three pieces.
Still this doesn’t stop his mood. In 15 minutes he can create a custom design for 4,000 colons. An extra 1,000 will buy the customer a stand.
The 15 minutes ends like it started with Claudio sanding, beat boxing and foot stomping. Then he assembles the glass pieces and sends the customer off with a good day greeting.
“If you need anything else, I’m here in the street,” he said.