Victor Bizar Gómez is an illustrator and painter who is doing all he can to continue existing. Gómez graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a BFA in Illustration in 2018.
Victor, you have a striking and distinct use of shape and textures in your art. How did your art style develop and evolve along your journey with art?
I think a large chunk of what makes up my shape language comes from my earliest influences in art. Like most people of my generation, I was really captured by anime and manga as a kid. I would watch Toonami religiously, and would always check the mail multiple times a day near the end of the month in hopes that the new issue of Shonen Jump would be in there. Once I hit high school, I became interested in graffiti and street art. So much so that I nearly flunked out because I couldn’t stop myself from drawing letterforms instead of paying attention to class and doing my coursework.
When I began studying illustration, I really struggled creating work that felt consistent, and it wasn’t until I looked back at my graffiti work that I started to put pieces together. I saw the shape and design language I used when I approached my letters, and realized that it could be applicable in the way I designed for illustrations. It's still an ongoing journey for me as I'm still trying to evolve the way I design, mostly from the discovery of new sources to pull from. One of the sources that I discovered this year and have become enamoured with is twentieth-century poster artwork. Because of limitations of the medium, poster artists have really had to approach design with a level of efficiency that I find really exciting, and it’s a factor that I felt was missing in my work.
What are your favorite themes or things to draw? What do you wish to portray with your art?
As of late, the things that I’ve been drawing the most are Luchadors, Mariachis, and other subjects that exist with the sphere of Mexican and Chicano culture. It's been comforting for me to explore these themes of my heritage visually, as I consider what these symbols mean to me. It had occurred to me that for some reason, I had always been reluctant to let Victor the illustrator and Victor the Mexican intersect. Which seems silly as hell now, because that's the same dude. Drawing these things felt to me like the first step to remedying that situation.
It's shifted my art practice a bit, as what I’ve been producing in the second half of this year has largely been exercises in just trying to figure myself out, and acknowledging how I feel at this moment in time. Like everybody, I have been feeling lost this year, and for a while I’ve struggled to make art because of it. The best thing I felt I could do for myself right now was to try to sort through these feelings through art. It seems like such an easy answer but it's something I’ve been resistant to trying for a while. At this point, I just want to seek more honesty in my artwork, to show that while I may be struggling, I’m still trying my best.
Can you tell us a few Mexican artists that you look up to?
Some Mexican visual artists that I've really been loving are Miguel Covarrubias, Emilio Amero, and particularly Ernesto García Cabral. Cabral has such versatility to his approach, and some of his work has quickly elevated to being some of my favorite pieces of art, period. Growing up, I have always felt that outside of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, not a lot Mexican artists get discussed a lot in the traditional visual arts canon, but there are lots of great artists throughout Mexico’s history. I just need to put the work in to find them. So I am always on the lookout for more Mexican artists, especially illustrators, so if any of you out there know any good deep cuts, be sure to send them my way.
Do you use sketchbooks? How is your art process?
I don’t really keep a regular sketchbook per se, instead I tend to opt for sketching on loose pages of printer paper, or just doodling in Procreate on my iPad. I found when I kept a sketchbook, I started to get too concerned with the idea of it as an “object,” wanting every page looking perfect and well considered. At its worst, it could really give you some drawing paralysis. Drawing on loose sheets of paper was helpful for me in counteracting this I think.
If i’m making something for myself, then often I just play with shapes until I find something I think is worth taking to finish. For a while, my process involved either painting or drawing a composition in greyscale, then moving it into Photoshop to color it. This process can be more time intensive than I'd like sometimes, and I began to understand that it might not be the right choice for the demands of editorial illustration. So as of now my process is in a bit of flux, as I try new things out that would allow me to make work that is more consistent and efficient.
What are the other media that inspire you besides visual art (like music, literature, architecture, etc.)?
To pass the time, I've decided to invite professional wrestling back into my heart. I’ve been watching AEW and Lucha Underground, the latter being something I think is one of the most wild pieces of media out there. Wrestling is just straight up art, it's such a unique form of storytelling that can be fun to watch.
I’ve also been watching a lot of what I think is the most “wrestling-like, while not actually being wrestling” thing out there, which is RuPaul’s Drag Race (shoutout to the Queen of Queens, Valentina). I really find it inspiring to see these subcultures full of people who are really serious about their stuff. So watching the way some of these queens eat and breathe drag makes me want to match that level of intensity in my own work.
Recently, you said that you're drawing luchadores as a way to cope with 2020. I think all of us have been affected by this year in a way or another. Can you share with us your favorite pieces from this year, and how you have been dealing with 2020, art-wise?
Like many, I’ve struggled to get my footing this year with how uncertain things have been. I’ve found myself looking inward a lot, and in turn I’ve grown a little disconnected and unsatisfied with my work. I felt that the best thing I could do for myself this year was to pump the brakes, and take things slow. I wanted to improve my relationship with art, and I thought the best way to go about this was to make art that was just for me and me alone.
I came across this collection of lucha libre magazine covers from the 1970s, and I just thought they were just so damn cool. All I wanted to do at that time was to draw them. So I did. These ended up being some of my favorite pieces that I made this year. I’ve forgotten how cathartic it felt to make finished artwork that was just about my interests. I didn’t want to worry about how these pieces lived in the world, I just wanted to make something fun for myself.
Here's a space for you to plug any projects you're part of, or anything you feel like sharing!
I’m currently developing a new body of work right now that I’m hoping can find me some more opportunities in 2021. You will be able to see the fruits of those efforts soon at my website (bizarthestar.com) or on Twitter and Instagram (@bizar_gomez). I also sell prints through Inprnt. (https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/bizar_gomez/)
I’m always excited to work on new projects, so if anyone ever has anything that they feel I am the right fit for, then please don’t hesitate to email me at Bizargomezart@gmail.com.