Reinier Gamboa’s work is mindblowing. His interview is genuine, honest and intelligent. Gamboa’s work is pretty badass, and so is his interview. Read on fellow psychonauts:
Where are you from? What did you want to be when you were a kid?
What did you like more when you were a kid, dinosaurs or superheroes?
I used to copy old Batman and Tarzan comics when I was young so I think I was more inclined towards superheroes since it’s a little harder to identify with T-Rex.
What have you learned from your time at the Art Center of Design in Pasadena and the New World School of the Arts in Miami that you would not have on your own?
Those two institutions have been crucial to my development as an artist. At New World I met some of my best friends and was under the guidance of a power trio, Jim Hunter (R.I.P), Tom Wyroba, and Aramis O’Reilly. The New World years laid the foundation, stressing discipline, practice and an unquenchable taste for experimentation. At Art Center my knowledge and skills grew exponentially and I was able to work alongside such talented individuals as Andrew Hem, David Jien and Vincent Hui as well as have the opportunity to study under amazing teachers like Norman Schureman (R.I.P), Gary Meyer, David Luce, Bob Kato, Kent Williams and Aaron Smith.
What facet of your work do you consider your greatest strength? What area needs the most work?
I think my greatest strengths are my imagination and improvisation. The area which needs the most work is planning and compositing through research. A lot of times I’m running on instinct and riding the serendipity train, sometimes at the expense of the rules of design since I am more drawn to find structure within complexity or chaos. That balance is what’s important.
How do you intend to address that disparity? What advice can you give upcoming artists in terms of self-improvement?
I intend to address that disparity by being self-aware. My advice to anyone interested in self-improvement in regardless of field or aspect of life is to learn the difference between being self-aware and self-critical. We often mistake one for the other. Being self-aware is taking an honest look at yourself, your beliefs, talents, flaws, all of it. From that place of true honesty, you can decide what gets in the way of your growth and what you can do about it. Being self-critical is putting yourself down and I find a lot of times this happens when we compare ourselves to others and think “I’m not good enough”. I’ve met plenty of people with natural talent who won’t nourish it because they put limits on themselves. All in all, catch yourself before you “break yo’ self”.
What’s your favorite part of the face to illustrate/paint? What’s the hardest part?
The eyes have been called ” the windows to the soul”. That is my favorite part to draw and paint and it is also the hardest for me.
What source material do you use when illustrating?
I don’t have much experience illustrating apart from some of the classes I took at Art Center and jobs I did for Tiltworks and Russian Esquire. In those instances I used the library and internet to find the images I needed. A composite of eclectic sources is the way to go.
What’s the difference in your approach to a painting and to an illustration? Tell us about the separate processes from beginning to end.
Completely different. The illustration work I’ve done has been more of a collaboration between myself and an art director. Everything else, which I consider my personal work, has been to fulfill my own urge to create and explore my own psyche. Painting to me is a process of discovery and a personal journey that allows me to see the way my mind works. The illustrations I’ve done follow the usual procedure of fleshing out an idea through comps and sketches while my approach to painting is more spontaneous, intuitive and experimental.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working closely with Marissa Alma Nick, a dancer and choreographer whom I met at New World on a project that will blend painting and dance. I am also developing a new body of work for my second solo show.
What’s next for you? What do want to have done in the next two years?
In the next two years I want to develop my gift to its fullest potential. I’ll be producing large paintings, exhibiting in the states and abroad as well as collaborating with different artists in multi-media projects.
Can you talk about your painting “Eye”? What were the sources of inspiration?
There were four main sources of inspiration for this painting: Terence McKenna, Joseph Campbell, Friedrich Nietzsche and my girlfriend at the time Jazmyn. The painting deals with several mythological motifs like the serpent as a symbol of transformation and rebirth, the intertwined relationship between different faiths as all emanating from one source represented by the eye, the modern dilemma of what to do with all the trash we’ve accumulated, and a sense of justice brought upon by the wounded angel holding the Scale on which we will weight what is essential and what isn’t.
What do you want viewers to take away from “Quanah’s Face”? What is Quanah feeling emotionally? What were you feeling when you painted the piece?
I’ve been doing live painting for a while and I get a real kick out of doing powerful visionary paintings in places that are highly unlikely to inspire such work. Not only is this a test in concentration but it poses a challenge to be fully engaged and work faster in the given amount of time. I started this piece in my studio but worked on it at several different live venues, one of them being a rave. I wanted people to witness him appear out of the aether like a ghost. I don’t know what he’s feeling emotionally but I wanted to stress the intensity of his features. It is important for me to make figurative work that feels timeless. I’m fascinated by the history of native americans so working on Quanah was a great opportunity to meditate on the passage of time and the consequence of European influence on the original inhabitants of this country. Basically one way of life was sacrificed for another to exist and the dominant culture which we’re a part of is swallowing up indigenous cultures that have a stronger, deep-rooted bond with the Earth. We can learn from these traditions how to work together harmoniously with nature by giving wild places and its inhabitants the respect they deserve.
Who are three artists that influenced you? What effect has their influence had on your work?
Would you rather be reincarnated as a dolphin or a wolf and why?
I’m already part dolphin so coming back as a wolf would be a nice change of pace. As long as I’m not getting shot at from an aircraft.