When my family and I drove around Costa Rica, we noticed a lot of upcycled tire art in various parts of the country. Tire toucans hung at restaurants. Tire hens decorated hotels. Several gift shops offered colorful tire birds for sale. And then, on our very last day of traveling, we happened to come upon the mother-of-all-upcyced-tire-art stores.
We were driving on Highway 702 from the La Fortuna area towards the airport. About an hour in, we started seeing big signs along the side of the road promising “Recicled Art” in big letters. My heart rate went up.
As you might know if you’ve been following my blog, I am deeply passionate about local arts as well as about upcycling. The promise of both combined got me pretty excited… And so, once we reached the little store, I made my family stop.¬†
It proved to be a heaven for upcycled-art/reduce-waste-obsessed enthusiasts like myself. I felt like a kid in a candy store!
The store’s owner, artist Erian Herrera, uses his vivid imagination to create colorful animals out of used tires. He had several colorful birds, of the kind you find in that part of the tropics. Clock-wise are a quetzal, toucan, hen and parrot:
There was even a peacock!
Herrera makes local frogs, some of which we’ve seen in real life in the forest:
He creates reptiles such as turtles, crocodiles and iguanas:
And also water creatures, like crabs and fish:
He even makes some local mammals, such as this monkey:
Or this mammal, which I couldn’t quit identify (but which was quite cute!):
Some of his tire animals aren’t exactly local, but they are fun nonetheless:
Herrera doesn’t only upcycle tires, however. He also has a magic touch when it comes to reusing plastic bottles and many other discarded plastic items. In fact, he told us his neighbors bring many of their discarded single-use plastics for him to give a new life to:
See if you can recognize what these fun animals use to be!
Finally, Herrera also upcycles coconuts and wood, making art of the kind you can find in other souvenir stores in Costa Rica:
I was impressed by all these amazing creations, and, as a recycling artist myself, also identified with this sign:
And so, we happily adopted some of Herrera’s animals, and helped him with his dream.
If you plan to visit Costa Rica and would like to visit this artist and see some of his upcycled tire art in person, you can find him on Facebook.