Interviewed in April of 2013
Raul Gonzalez III
Hometown: El Paso, TX
Current town: Medford, MA
Website: Click Here
Email: Click Here
1.) Tell us a little about where you’re from & where you grew up… and how that influences the type of art you’ve found yourself making?
I was born in El Paso Tx and had the pleasure of shuttling between Juarez, MX and Ysleta Tx. Those early years of my life were an immense inspiration, from the hustle and bustle of Juarez to the large gangs of kids my brothers and I would run with fighting off kids from adjacent complexes. Rock fights, Boxing matches, street dogs, shitty and smelly puddles, street performers with faces burnt from eating flames, the sounds of groups of adults praying in tongues, listening to my Grandfather speak broken English to sell a Sarape to a Gringo, my Father’s stories of riding the rails when he was a teen and my Mothers strength and wisdom are the backbone for the work I produce today.
2.) Your now pretty well settled here in Medford, MA, are there any specific areas or locations here in the Boston area that have had a profound meaning to you and your art? ie; Your schooling? A place of major inspiration?
I love the Boston area in general, it is an amazing place and when I reflect back on my experiences here I feel truly blessed. First of all I have spent 11 years living with Master Elaine Bay who is a major influence on my life and we are the parents of a wonderful boy named Rocket Raul El Gonzalez the Fourth. On the art side of things I never would have dreamed of having participated in such a diverse number of projects. I came to Boston wanting to be a comic book artist but the city and its energies have taken me on a wild ride through teaching, illustration, lectures and Museum and gallery exhibitions and right back to cartooning. It’s important to realize just how many opportunities there are for an artist in the Boston area. As well as the level of understanding one can attain simply by visiting the libraries, museums, lectures, film and music that this city bubbles up on a daily and nightly basis.
3.) Your work has this wonderful group of characters you’ve developed over the years from luchador wrestlers to roosters and crows. Any personal favorites to illustrate or one with more personal meaning to you?
All of the work I have created over the years are my reflection of the world as I saw it at that moment in time, from commentaries about Early American History and the dehumanization of the other too reflections on my culture and the needless violence my beloved Juarez is suffering through. My work doesn’t portray characters but real people and the situations they find themselves in or are born into. I make work about people that for too long haven’t had a voice or existence in our popular culture as if they didn’t exist or were beneath being portrayed in a real light.
4.) Dream client? Go.
I have never had a dream client, but I have many dreams that I work on constantly and this is deeply fulfilling.
5.) Workplace or studio; a disaster or super organized?
A bit of both. I have stuff and I make stuff so that makes mountains of stuff that sometimes topples over.
6.) Music while working?
Anything your listening to now that is pushing you or inspiring you. I like to listen to music and I like to listen to books, I can say that it inspires me and when it doesn’t I turn it off.
7.) What medium or product is your sweet spot?? Even down to the brand name, color, materials, found or purchased?
I love a good sheet of paper and have been using Anigoni Paper for my smaller works as it can really take a beating and it’s like drawing on butter it’s so soft. I also like Reeves and buy rolls of it for my larger drawing. Materials are mixed, coffee stains, beet stains, pencils, colored pencils, bic pens and for paints I tend to use Golden Acrylics.
8.) What’s been the most challenging part of building your career as an artist?? ie; family, $$$, time, inspiration, networking, etc….
Every day as an artist brings about a new challenge. The best approach is leaving yourself open to different opportunities that may come your way.
9.) You’ve worked on several collaborative projects involving the Institute of Contemporary Art & the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston educating children in your community. Talk about the importance of introducing the visual arts to the next generation.
I love working with kids on art related projects and I hope to continue doing it throughout my life. Being a child is tough stuff and being involved in art is a great way to teach that the ideas you have are valuable and necessary to the world.
10.) Who was the most important person in your life guiding your direction as an artist when you were young?
My parents can’t believe that I make a living drawing pictures but I would say that my family are the most important in guiding my direction. My mother took us to libraries at a young age and I became a devourer of pictures and words, my father told us great stories and my two brothers were fun to play with and as an adult I have had great mentors and plus I live with Elaine Bay who has taught me a lot over the years.
11.) Your work has some strong roots in comic book illustration, any particular artists or books you followed and read as a kid?
I read everything!! I loved everything and I still do. Standouts from youth were Jim Aparo, Rob Liefeld, Norm Breyfogle, Jeff Purves, Todd Mcfarlane, Rick Veitch, Chester Brown, Kevin Eastman and on and on… Basically whatever I could get my hands on at the time in El Paso.
12.) Most underrated artist out there right now ready to take over the world.
Every artist is underrated and there are too many that deserve better treatment, and better pay.
13.) What’s next for you? Any future project or client where people can see your work?
I am working on a series of books for Chronicle books with my friend and writer Cathy Camper called Lowriders in Space as well as my first Solo Museum exhibition, Wake Up Call, at the New Hampshire Museum of Art which was curated by Kristina Durocher.**