Giovanni Monarrez, 17
What school do you go to?
I go to Tacoma School of the Arts.
Do you feel like you have more privilege in the arts by going to Sota?
Oh yeah definitely, that’s why my senior project is to help other students at different high schools that aren’t in Sota, Sami, or Idea. It’s because I want to help them get the benefits that I’ve experienced all four years. I want to help them experience the art community the way I’ve experienced the art community. And to be able to get their name out there, when I already had a foot in the door as soon as I got accepted into Sota.
Do you feel like you are more inspired at Sota?
The school doesn’t inspire me, but it is the people there. The people I viewed last year were also illustrators, and I got to see how they drew and what inspired them; seeing their style really inspired me to want to go further. And this year since they graduated, there has not been barely any illustrators whatsoever. I feel like I have been a rut recently so I’ve been trying to find more people to give me that inspiration. Like what to do.
What can you always go back to, that inspires you?
Honestly, I want to say anime. I started drawing pictures of it. I’ve always liked anime so sometimes when I’m bored I’d always go back to drawing that. And there’s Naruto, and doing different styles and whatnot. I love the logo of the 90s. I like how blocky it was; clothes being blocked. It just looks nice. It’s something I put in my work. A lot of my friends tell me my art looks like 90s anime. Stuff like that. I like to do that. Especially how I draw my clothes.
What mediums do you involve yourself in?
I involve myself in traditional illustration, such as graphite and pen, and whatnot. But I’m really into doing marker stuff, like a colored marker. Recently I’m trying to figure out how to blend marker together and whatnot. And I love watercolors; I love it but I hate it. I love coloring in blocks, but once it comes to layering on top of each other and going from light to dark, instead of dark to light it really throws me off. So, I’m still trying to figure that out. Acrylic occasionally, I go with acrylic because of how fast it dries. I hate the long waiting of painting. Acrylic is one of my favorites to go with because you can go from dark to light right away.
Where do you want your art to go?
Dang man, I want it to go everywhere. I was talking to Daniel about it, I’m trying to get into Cornish right now like I want to go there so bad because it is basically like Sota. But so much more it feels like a place where I can really improve on what I want to do. I want to be able to make a living off my artwork. I want to be able to support myself by selling my art either through prints, shirt–making, stickers. Either me selling my art to companies as logos, doing commissions for other people. I just want to be drawing, I just want to create something for people to see and to use. In the long run, I want to inspire others the way others inspired me because a lot of my art is a combination of other peoples art. I see something that they do and I try to implement it into my style, but not like stealing. Either the way the strokes look in the drawing, how jagged their lines are, or how sharp they are. And so one day I hope people look at my stuff and are able to say “I want to do what they’re doing, let me add that to my own style.”
What is your favorite piece so far?
It’s this piece I made when I was actually a freshman. So the reason why I’d pick that one is that when I applied to Cornish, you have to make a portfolio you know, so I had to look through my big pieces and all of my sketchbooks from freshman year till now. So when I was a little 14-year old I was a little, a little sad boy. Like I was really emotional. And a lot of that affected my art at the time. So as a freshman I had just moved to Tacoma from Hawaii, I lived in Hawaii since I was 6 until I was 13. It was a complete change for me and 8th grade was such a crazy time over here, the big shift. I actually didn’t want to go to Sota, because it was hard for me to make friends here, I didn’t want to make new friends at a new school. But once I got in I was like I’ll deal with it and make friends.
I wanted to capture the feeling and emotion of that time. Pretty much sad boy vibes. I’m here in a place I’m not used to, I’m just kinda stuck.
How does your culture influence your art?
I don’t think my culture.Well, I’m Mexican, and I don’t think it really is implemented in my drawing that much. I‘d say the only way it is, is because I like the way Cholos are dressed so I draw them a lot. And my middle name is Aztlan. I use it for my Instagram. It’s the name of where the Aztecs came from and I’d say that’s the only place where my culture is implemented into my art. That name is branded on what I draw. The reason why I drew it like that, was because I was thinking of certain types of artist’s brush in Mexico. The way they use the stroke from thin to thick. The colors they use. The whole aspect of that. I was really entranced by it.
What is your favorite artistic event you’ve gone to in Tacoma?
I’d say Teen night, the first one, the first Teen night, because I was actually hired by TAM. I was a portrait artist. That was the first time I was ever paid for my art, and it was the first time I did what I wanted to do. It was also my first paycheck I ever got. It was in November, of 2016. It was great because I was able to draw people and I was making buttons and I remember one of the guys was mad at me because he didn’t want to make my buttons. Phylicia ended up making them for me.That was great. They were inappropriate so I guess it makes sense.
What demographic comes to mind when you think of art museums?
I think of families. A lot of families go to art museums, little kids, and their parents, or people going on dates, old people. I think a variety. But I don’t think about teenagers that much. Teens only go to it if they’re into the art. And if they are doing something that involves art. The majority is families with little kids I feel like little kids appreciate those things the most out of everyone else.
How do you think Tacoma could benefit from the voices of teens?
I feel like with this generation we are a lot more open-minded than previous generations. We are all pretty casual people, honestly, either casual or super intense, but that’s a good mix.I think, a good yin-yang, super casual and super hyped people. I feel Tacoma would really benefit from seeing the different aspects of everyone, a more unified community but also a very diverse one. I feel they are already doing that in some senses but it would be much more if they listened to what kids had to say. If they allow us to show what we can do instead of just seeing us as just teenagers. If there were more Teen Night type events, more stuff like that where teens can come together. Like hey perform for us, and show us what you can do with drawing; draw people if you want, all this and that. I feel Tacoma can benefit from that, Like-minded people with a good sense of heart. I feel like it would draw more like–minded people with a good sense of heart to the city. It [Teen Night] was cool too, while I was drawing at TAM I met some people and they followed me and I followed them. Like I said, it‘s a good place where people can connect with each other, and still be diverse in the same way.
Follow Giovanni on Instagram @_aztlan_