El Runner

One section of the Bazurto market houses José Corredor (a.k.a. el Runner), his disciples, and adoring fans who photograph, video, or just simply gaze in awe in his general direction. I assume that the name “Runner” comes from his last name, which is the Spanish version of the word.

If you’ve been to Colombia or watched anything created from the coastal music scene, Runner’s eclectic graffiti-style poster art and unique colour combinations are integrated into public markets, events, music videos, and marketing campaigns… he is a folk hero and through his posters has defined the look of… well… Cartagena.

The style is well known and naturally catches your attention from a distance.

It all started with las fiestas picó where la champeta is popular; champeta is a style of African Caribbean music and dance specific to the Colombian coastal areas. Picó parties are massive weekend music events in Colombia that draw thousands of people to an outdoor venue.

When Runner was a young lad in the early 80s, he created one stylized poster advertising a picó party in his community and put it on a lampost near his house. When picó officials inquired about its origin they were surprised to find a young boy with tons of artistic potential. This surprise quickly turned into an opportunity and Runner has been creating posters for music events ever since.

More recently, political candidates, government culture officials, and musicians outside of Colombia have asked Runner to style their campaign posters using his colourful typography.

On the day of our visit, he was at the market and we had the opportunity to watch him work in the vibrant, beating heart of Barzurto Market.

In many ways, Bazurto and Runner have a symbiotic relationship: the market gives him a place to work and the inspiration needed for his work; while Runner brings colour, character, and marketable face to a place where illegal stalls, pirated goods, and the smell of rotting fish and excrement are omnipresent.

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