SAN DIEGO — SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- “ShoLove” is the moniker and driving force for muralist Erick Delarosa, who said he gets paid for his work in smiles.
Delarosa has a prominent piece at Rady Children's Hospital, but when he's not painting, he can help you plan your retirement.
“I'm the guy that basically helps you understand how your 401(k) plan works,” said Delarosa with a smile.
A surprisingly conservative sounding profession for a man gaining so much attention for his beautiful artistry with spray paint.
“A big inspiration for me was graffiti,” explained Delarosa, “Even though, technically, I wouldn't call myself a graffiti artist. It is definitely a huge inspiration for me. I love it all.”
Delarosa isn't sure how many murals he's painted around San Diego and Tijuana, but he said each one -- like his recent work at the Fresh Start Clinic at Rady Children's Hospital -- is a venture of passion.
“When I'm painting, it's like my happy place. It's my Zen. It's like nothing else matters and my mind is just in freestyle flow,” he said.
Delarosa told ABC 10News it began with his parents and older brother -- all artistic in their own way -- who encouraged him to draw and paint. Though, as his father made clear, only with permission.
“My dad told me growing up, ‘Mijo, boys will be boys and I'm pretty much very lenient with you.’ He told me if you get caught stealing or spray painting on the walls, I'm going cut off your hands. And I know that sounds a little crazy … my dad has power tools, and he goes, ‘Bzzz, bzzz!’ And I'm a little kid, I'm like OK! I believe him,” Delarosa said.
Delarosa said his parents offered the family's backyard shed as a pallet. And as he began to seek other venues.
“I remember just asking people that I know, ‘Hey, can I paint on your wall,’ you know? I just wanted to paint. I love to paint. It makes me feel good,” Delarosa said.
Delarosa’s work is doing the same for those who said yes. Now, businesses, schools and civic groups, like Chicano Park, invite the man who signs his work "ShoLove" to share his colorful brilliance.
“Really just trying to put positive energy in the world,” said Delarosa.
And he's doing it without social media. With no Instagram or Facebook account, Delarosa prides himself on being old school, despite fellow artists nudging him with high-tech presents.
“I got this pen -- digital pen for my iPad -- and they keep getting on my case because I haven't even taken it out of the box yet. For right now,” Delarosa said as he held up a traditional marking pen, “I’ll stick to like the Deco, you know. And they kind of laugh at me.”
Delarosa said there is a nexus between his artwork and retirement planning. He said the company he works for, Mutual of America, is very philanthropic, which sometimes puts him in touch with groups wanting a colorful mural.
In fact, Mutual of America underwrote the mural project for the Fresh Start Clinic at Rady Children's Hospital, while Delarosa once again volunteered his time and talent.
Delarosa can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.