Jesse Mireles

Jesse Mireles

Graphic artist & painter


Mireles Design


Born in Mexico and raised in Toledo, Jesse Mireles creates both clear, attention-grabbing graphic design work for local companies and abstract, dreamy fine art that can often be found in local venues. From art student and corporate employee to community activist to self-employed artist, Mireles has been deeply connected to Northwest Ohio in many ways throughout his life. We caught up with our latest Creative Native to discuss his background, from where he gets his inspiration and the book he can't live without. 

Tell us more about some of your past projects?

This past year has been one of transition ? moving from full-time employee with part-time freelance graphic design projects to life as an owner of, not one, but, two businesses. Mireles Design is my graphic design company and I also work as a fine artist. However, in the last few years, my work was largely as an employee of the Metroparks. Much of that work was to develop branding to identify programs, events, and agency initiatives. The work was stimulating and challenging as it was inspired by nature and local history.

My challenge at the park district was to develop strategies to brand the look and feel of all the major fundraising initiatives, levy campaigns, events, educational programs, etc. Among my favorite projects were the yearly Autumn Adventure designs, developed as incentives to entice visitors to walk the trails at several Metroparks during the fall season. The Leaf People logo, originally designed for children’s apparel is now used in many other applications. The Battle of Fallen Timbers 100 Anniversary design, the Black Swamp Soire logo, the Mardi Gras fundraiser design are just some of my favorites, out of dozens of branding designs that I did for the park district. 

What current projects are you working on?

Today, I’m balancing my time working on graphic design projects and painting very loose, mostly large, mostly abstract paintings. The design projects are for businesses and community-based organizations. A portfolio for my branding and logo development work can be seen on my website. As regards to my fine art, this year I have produced a good number of paintings and have had a few gallery showings including the “Without Borders” exhibit at the Secor Gallery. That exhibit is now on view at The Registry, in the Secor Building, next to the gallery. A website for my fine art is in the works. 

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

As a visual artist I think Toledo is a great place to work, simply for the depth and breadth of the stimulation and resources that exist for creatives here and within a few hours from Toledo. The Toledo Museum of Art and its glass pavilion, incredibly are both free and open to the public. We are also fortunate to have the resources The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, the 577 Foundation, the Toledo School for the Arts, among others. The region is also very affordable ? my wife and I own our own home and I am able to rent a sizable art studio downtown at a reasonable rate. Today, because of the internet, artists such as I are able to live and work in Toledo, where the overhead is low and we are able to sell our work in hot art markets anywhere in the world. Toledo is a marvelous city, home to a wonderful community of hugely talented artists, many of whom I am grateful to be able to call friends. They provide me with great wealth of inspiration through their work, their conversation, their generosity and their wonderful humor.  

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

One of my greatest career successes is that I’ve had several logo designs published in several volumes of the Logo Lounge International Identity Books and the Logo Lounge Master Library Books. However, one of my most memorable successes happened at an early age, when I started school in the first grade. I was a sickly kid, missed a lot of school and didn’t know much English at the start. Very early, I looked forward to art projects. It was during a presidential election that I painted a picture in class, of a candidate campaigning with a lot of attitude, pomp and color. My teacher saw what I had done, brought in the principal and a couple other teachers and I thought that I was in trouble. To my relief, they were full of smiles and praises and pats on my head. Many years later, I came to understand that that incident was when I realized that I can make other people happy by just doing what I love to do? art.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

The work of other artists, especially the great Mexican muralists and German Expressionists, but also literature, music and the performing arts. However, nature inspires more than anything or anyone. Hiking woods or meadows or walking beaches and river beds, taking in sunsets and night skies in any season is where I go for inspiration. Nature as seen through images of the cosmos and NASA photos of earth and other planets also captivate me.

Tell us about your background.

I was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico but grew up in Toledo. I attended the former Macomber Vocational High School where I took a graphic design class that was offered. I won a scholarship in a regional competition for high school seniors to the Famous Artists School, a popular correspondence graphic design course. Soon after graduating from high school I served an apprenticeship that led to my first job as a designer at Libbey-Owens-Ford. One of my principle responsibilities was to design branding for the company’s distributors. LOF was a very stuffy, corporate setting but I and a colleague were able to produce some exciting, award winning work. This is where I learned that I enjoyed doing branding and identity design as a discipline. Also, during this time I worked while I attended the University of Toledo as an art major. 

I took a break one summer to work as a community organizer in Auglaize and Mercer Counties, Ohio. I ended up staying for more than five years, working as a migrant worker advocate in the summers and as a year-round social worker for low income residents, many from Appalachia. I’ve always been concerned with social justice issues and this very challenging but rewarding work planted me squarely, in the thick of it. 

During this time I got married to my lovely wife, Allen. We had our first son, Gabriel and moved back to Toledo where I worked for a couple of marketing agencies before being hired by the Metroparks.   

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by? 

I can forgive myself for failing at anything except for being a good father.

Favorite place for local culture?

The Toledo Museum of Art, no surprise.

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

 The Oak Openings Region, a globally rare ecological strip of land that runs through western Lucas County and West Toledo, is home to more rare species of plants and wildflowers than the rest of Ohio combined. A must see for any creative soul.

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

The walk from Farnsworth to Bendview Metropark and back.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . .

The Maumee River and Lake Erie shore

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

My studio... painting is one thing I do for work, but it’s also my recreation.

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

Find more ways to market the great work of local artists to hot global markets 

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

About a year ago I was one of a group of artists that had a very fun exhibit at Bozarts Gallery. The other artists were Doug Solomon, Richard Reed, Jerod Christy, Dan Lund, Mark Moffet, Will McCullough & David McIntire

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

German Expressionist, Franz Mark, Feb., 8, 1880 ? Mar 4, 1916 (my favorite artist)

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

The book, “The Dance of the Dwarfs”, by Geoffry Household

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Break the rules

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Joe Pass, Virtuoso

Mana, Unplugged

Vivaldi:The Four Seasons by Joshua Bell

Miles Davis,  Greatest Hits

Santana, Supernatural

My biggest vice is . . .

Munchies, especially cream is up there, too.

I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

A modern art museum

What’s the last dream you recall having? 

Sitting in the living room in the house where I grew up, conversing with my now deceased parents and sharing munchies with my dad (my dad never ate munchies in real life).

The last lyric that moved me was . . . 

“You may be right. I may be crazy, but it may just be a lunatic you’re looking for”, by Billy Joel (cracked me up when I heard it again recently)

One movie character I identify with is . . . 

Flap, played by Anthony Quinn in the classic movie “Flap”

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

Black and white photo portraits that my wife gave to me of my sons, Gabriel and Alexander, when they were younger, beautifully executed by our friend and gifted photographer, Marty Reichenthal. 

My most inspiring moment was/is . . . 

The birth of my two sons, nothing else comes close. 

I want my last meal to be...

A fideo dinner (made with angel hair spaghetti, mixed in a Mexican meat sauce served with a side of rice, refried beans, guacamole, the works...something you can’t find in Mexican restaurants around here)


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