Thank you Joe for allowing me to do this Artist spotlight on you, it’s an honor to speak and learn about someone with a talent like yourself. Freedom Love And Bull Ent. Is a lifestyle brand that wants to promote positivity and cultural awareness through visual,vocal, and musical art. We want to uplift up and coming creative individuals and give them a platform to share their talents with an international and worldwide audience. Shall we begin?
YJ: Can you introduce yourself so our readers can become familiar with you and your work?
AJ: Well, my Mom calls me “Joey” and some people call me “Joe” so I guess as long as you get the first three letters right, it’s all good.
YJ: Let’s dig in a bit: Can we learn a lil more about you I.e hometown, age, ethnic background, upbringing, credentials schooling etc?
AJ: I was born in Lancaster, CA. As a kid we moved A LOT because we didn’t have a lot of money, so it was a lot of staying with relatives. When they would get sick of us (myself, a brother and a sister) crashing there, we’d have to pack up and move. As far as “hometown” goes…I guess you could say Huntington Beach, CA since that’s where I finished Jr. High and High School. My Mom’s family is a mixture of European (Dutch/Irish) but all of my immediate relatives were either born and raised in CA, or various places like TX, AL, AR. I like to refer to them as “European Rednecks.” My Dad’s family comes from Spain and Mexico. He’s second generation Mexican (didn’t speak English until he was about 6). My parents each had two kids from a previous marriage before they got married. I’m the product of their marriage, and the youngest of 5 kids total. My family tree has a lot of branches. As far as my age, I just turned 33 (same age as Superman) on January 29th, 2015.
I don’t really have a lot of credentials to speak of as it relates to art. I took all the basic art classes in High School, but never really liked the idea of someone telling me what I could/couldn’t draw. I would always draw whatever I wanted in class. It’s remarkable how I didn’t fail. Maybe my teacher appreciated the creativity and let it slide? Any talent that I have, I suppose is natural or self-taught. I’ve never really taken any outside classes or courses.
YJ: When did you begin drawing, and what was the spark that made this become your passion?
AJ: I guess I started when I was able to hold a pencil (or crayon). Maybe 3-4? As far as what sparked it, it was definitely cartoons. After we (my family and I) settled in our own home, my Mom would have to work A LOT to take care of her 3 kids. That left my brother (9 years older) and sister (12 years older) in charge. Since they were both just kids as well, they would park me in front of the TV while they did their thing and I would watch cartoons for hours. I distinctly remember growing up with Popeye, Super Friends and of course the onslaught of 80’s goodness like He-Man, TMNT, Thundercats, etc. I guess once I was introduced to that, something just “clicked” in my brain. When I was old enough to read, my brother introduced me to comic books and that was pretty much it for me. The very first comic book I ever read was Superman…and so began my lifelong love of the character and comics in general.
YJ: What artist influenced your style and as well as pushed your creativity?
AJ: I’ve always been a fan of Jim Lee. I mean, he’s not the only artist I’ve ever admired, but he’s always been my favorite. Even today when I see his artwork, I think “how in the hell does he make it look that good?” I would never compare myself to him or his work, but I would definitely say he influenced me in a lot of different ways.
YJ: Can you describe to us your subject matter? I’ve noticed through your Instagram it’s super heroes, comic book characters, and video game characters. How did these become the avenue and subjects for you, and what is your selection/drawing process?
AJ: I would say anything pop culture related is what I specialize it. It makes up 90% of what I do. I still get a lot of requests for pet art, portraits, and things of that nature. As for how if became “what I do”…I’ve just always been interested in pop culture. If you’re going to attempt to be an artist and make it a full time job, I think it’s important to make sure you keep it within the realm of things your interested. I’ve always felt that the best way to learn any kind of art (music, drawing, etc) was to relate it to something that interests you. For instance, if you’re learning how to play a guitar, and you instructor is busy teaching you how to play each individual string, your brain is likely to tune out (at least mine would). However, if you tell yourself that you want to learn how to play something like the “Blues Brothers” theme, then your brain is likely to connect, because it’s something you’re interested in (at least for me). Illustration is the same way. If I were forced to draw flowers, and dogs every day, I would be severely unhappy. Since I am my own boss and can pick the projects I work on, I make sure to do 90% of the work that genuinely interests me, and view the other 10% as “practice”. When I’m asked to draw a pet, it doesn’t bother me because I view it as fine tuning my skills….and I know I can draw Spider-Man tomorrow.
YJ: We are a brand that promotes the Freedom of creation, speech, and living, with the recent current events going on in the country, what is your opinion on police brutality and the #BLACKLIVESMATTER campaign?
: I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve been following it super closely, because I haven’t. I tend to stay away from watching
the news, because quite frankly, it’s depressing. I keep up on current events as much as possible, but sometimes I just find the news to be so depressing that I just tune it out. As far as your question goes, of course it’s awful to see. I mean, as a society we’ve come SO far, but then things like this happen and it seemingly sets us back decades. It doesn’t matter what color of skin people have, to see ANYONE get treated like that is just plain wrong. It’s not a black thing, it’s not a white
thing. It’s a humanity thing. As human beings, we should be able to treat each other with a lot more compassion and respect. I know a lot of people want to turn it into a race thing, and maybe to some degree they’re right, but to me it’s just something wrong with humanity in the modern era. Most people have become WAY too self absorbed to really even care about anyone, or anything around them. I think what you’re seeing is an example of that. There are people on both sides that will try to turn this into something that it’s not to feed into their own agenda, but I personally feel if we took a step outside of our race, and looked at this as an issue with humanity in general – we could find some sort of resolution. Anytime it gets turned into “black vs white
” or race, religion, etc – that’s when it begins to spiral out of control. How many wars throughout history have been started simply based on those two topics? It’s sad.
YJ: With us being a brand that is based off of providing positivity to those around us and their crafts, what are some words of advice you have for up and coming artists?
: Two of my favorite quotes that I try to pass along to people are “find something to be, and go be it” and “I want to be remembered as doing the best that I could, with the talent that I had.” I alway tell people to just be who they are (cliche, I know), but it’s true. If your passion
is art, then find an avenue to express that passion. If it’s cars, construction, cooking…whatever, just run with it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your job, but one of the worst things I can think of is to have passion for something and have absolutely no outlet in which to express that passion. Sounds like torture to me.
YJ: Where do you see 2015 taking your creative abilities? Do you have any projects or collaborations we should be looking out for?
AJ: Don’t really know how to answer that question. I mean, I always try to grow and try new techniques. I’m a big fan of looking at other people’s work and thinking “I bet I could figure out how that was done” and going through that process. It’s actually a game I play with myself. I’ve been in awe of some of the techniques that I’ve seen in recent years with the advent of tablets, photoshop, etc, etc that when I see something that really blows me away, I’ll sit and try to figure out how it was done. If/when I get it, I feel a great sense of pride. As far as specific projects – nope. I keep my door open to anyone that wants to throw me an idea (but also understands that this is a business). I have a lot on my plate right now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
YJ: Finally, as an artist we know it’s difficult to select your favorite prices of art, but what pieces would be considered your top 5?
AJ: I honestly couldn’t pick 5. I’m EXTREMELY critical of my own work. The second I finish something, I start picking it apart. I will tell you the single most important artwork I personally feel like I’ve ever done is my Walter White. That’s the one that started the ball rolling for me with a new style of art. Something that specifically mine, and not just a cheap copy of someone else. That art has been purchased and sent to 16 countries around the world, and afforded me a lot of nice things. I will also have a very special place in my heart for that one because it’s really the first and only time I’ve sat back, looked and something, and thought “whoa…” and technically, it’s not even that good. 3 years after creating it, it’s still the single most popular piece of art I’ve ever done. I guess a close second would be the Jesse Pinkman, because that was just me asking myself “can you do this again?”
YJ: Thank you for chatting with us, and shining light on your art, talent, and creativity. The FLAB Ent. family is truly thankful for this insight and interview, and we wish you the best of luck in your career and future accomplishments. We would love to feature some of your future designs and artworks if that’s alright with you?
AJ: Absolutely. Thanks for coming up with questions that actually made me think about how to respond. Anytime you guys need me for something…I’m always around.