Ramon Hernandez is a rising star in the Houston art scene. Born and raised in the city, he has slowly been making a name for himself since he was a teenager. His work is abstract, design-centric, and reflects his preoccupation with color and composition. In the last year, Hernandez's work has gone from strength to strength, culminating in his being selected for the Printers of Tomorrow Exhibition, juried by Suzanne Manns, department head of Works on Paper at the MFAH- Glassell School of Art. Now at the age of just 21, he certainly has a promising future ahead of him, especially in a city that both nurtures and encourages the synergy between art and design. After seeing his work at a recent RAW: Houston exhibition, I was excited to learn that Hernandez is also very accommodating of crazy bloggers like myself, and took the opportunity to pick his brains about his work, his views on fine art, graphic design, and what it's like to be an emerging artist in H-town:
So, how long have you been creating art?
I have been creating art for about 7 years now.
What is your background? Are you a trained artist?
I grew up in Northwest Houston. I have always been drawn to abstract work. It wasn’t until Senior of High School where I could apply my drawing to Adobe Illustrator and from that point on I took off like a rocket.
I think I’m a self-trained artist. I learned the adobe program in high school and took a screen-printing class in college so those are the only ‘trainings’ I have had. Other than that I learned painting and drawing on my own. I’m currently at UH studying Graphic Design so I’m getting ‘trained’ to be a designer as well.
Describe your style:
My style deals with shapes and juxtaposing them into an interesting composition. I also like to give them a sense of movement. Someone told me that it’s like origami but with geometric shapes. She called them Geo-Gami and I’m starting to understand why. The shapes fold onto one another just like folding paper.
I’m currently applying my style to typographic work. I made a typeface last semester using shapes while keeping readability. I think it was successful. I’m going to try another version but go crazy this time.
Another style I have is with my brush fonts. They are gritty and free flowing. There is a movement called Calligraffiti, which I get the style from.
What inspires you?
Music is a BIG influence in my work. I usually make my shape composition while listening to a certain type of music. A composition full triangles has a totally different feeling than one full of 4-sided polygons. So if I’m listening to a soulful R&B album I’ll use polygons with a couple of triangles because of the soothing voice and beats. My family, Calligraffiti, motion graphics, TONS of street artist like Etam cru, obey, and Meggs to name a few. The work/process of making a piece. The drive to always push myself to be greater than what I was the day before..
Who or what are your biggest influences?
My parents are a big influence because they taught me to push myself even if you don’t have the equipment to do so.
Any artist or designer I meet are big influences for me because I love talking to people and looking at other people’s work. I think the creative field always needs communication and interaction within the community to spark inspiration.
What is it like being an emerging artist in Houston?
It’s kinda crazy. I don’t even realize that I’m slowly making my way to a big stage. I’m studying Graphic Design but my fine art is taking to levels I have never dream of. This whole year has gone by so fast that I haven’t really had time to reflect. I don’t mind it though because it means that I’m working on my craft and pushing my creative limits.
What are some of your greatest achievements in terms of your work? What are you most proud of?
My first great achievement was being selected to the COLLEGE BOARD AP ART POSTER AND TOUR. During Senior year of high school I took AP Art to get some college credit. Little did I know that from over 10,000 pieces one of mine was selected to be on the College Board art poster that would reach thousands of schools and students. That was when I realized I should do something with this digital art thing.
This past summer one of my screen prints was selected to be in the Printers of Tomorrow Exhibition that was juried by Suzanne Manns, department head of Works on Paper at the MFAH- Glassell School of Art. That was the second time my work was shown in a gallery but It was different. It was different because now I’m starting to use screen printing as a primary medium for my work.
I have been in a couple of shows this year but I think the Printers of Tomorrow exhibition is my proudest moment.
Where do you hope your career will take you?
I hope my career takes me places that even I can’t imagine like one day having my own solo exhibition because that would awesome! I did submit my first exhibition proposal to the Lawndale Art Center to try to get a series of prints I’ve been working on up for the community to see. I just want to spread my vision and voice out by any means, whether it be selling at shows or exhibitions.
Do you feel that there is a conflict between art and design in your work?
I don’t feel there is a conflict in my work because I can easily combine the two. I feel there is conflict with people’s viewpoints of fine art and design. I’ve met tons of designers saying that Graphic Design is not fine art and should not be seen that way. Well I think it can be both. Yes, design is visual communication but when you make a poster in a harmonious and beautiful way then it becomes a piece of art.
Do you think that it is possible for art to be functional?
Yes, it can be functional because I’m working on a project right now for a class dealing with functional design. We have to make a piece that can function into something we want. Like making a ball maze using Russian Constructivist design.
Do you think that technology/internet etc has helped or hindered you as an emerging artist?
The internet has helped tremendously because now you can market yourself in an instant with instagram and other tools. It has also made it possible to get artist calls and other opportunities that can’t be seen in person. On the other hand, there are thousands of artist trying to get their name out using the tools I’ve mentioned so it can be tough to standout. In the end, I think the internet is a positive platform.
You can see more of Ramon's work on his website, go check it out y'all!