Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists and today marks the first weekly artist feature on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Ok - so technically this next artist is not currently local, but we figured we'd give him a pass for three reasons: 1) He grew up in the Pacific Northwest; 2) He dedicates a lot of his work to the PNW and draws inspiration from this beautiful region, and 3) A local reader recommended him to be featured as Artist of the Week. And after looking at Jose Hernandez's work, it is clear that his heart is indeed, local (literally - check out this image).
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating/designing? Do you work with other mediums?
Jose Hernandez: Ok - so technically this next artist is not local, but we figured we'd give him a pass for two reasons. 1) He dedicates a lot of his work to the Pacific Northwest and draws inspiration from this beautiful region, and 2) A local reader recommended him to be featured as Artist of the Week. And after looking at Jose Hernandez's work, it is clear that his heart is indeed, local (literally check out this picture).
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve me creating art projects and doodling. In my early years, I would be limited to only practicing with graphite pencils and pens. However, it wasn’t until college that I was able to polish my skills and make the big jump over to graphic design and digital art. Today my scope ranges from silk screen printing to logo designs. I'm also fortunate enough to be a part-time acrylic paint instructor. I like to test out any medium of art I’m fortunate enough to try. I’m currently experimenting with photography, acrylics, ink and spray paint.
All of my pieces begin with a graphite sketch on paper. A lot of the times they aren’t the most glamorous or polished sketches but I’m a strong believer in beginning with the simplest of tools. The next step usually involves ink. I like to sharpen the edges of my designs and add shadows and details. Then I usually finalize the piece by scanning the inked design and tracing it digitally and thus creating a vector file. Each part of the design process is incredibly important and people can definitely sense when shortcuts have been taken. Each step is laborious but vital to the end design.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My inspiration comes from everything around me. I have been fortunate enough to have been raised in the Pacific Northwest and have an incredibly supportive family with a rich culture so inspiration is limitless. I am fascinated by the dense forest and huge mountains of Washington. I draw inspiration from the growing diversity of the state and iconic landmarks that are unique to this area. As cliche as it may sound, all I need to do in order to be inspired it to look around me. I'm really grateful for that.
Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
I like to play with scale and composition. I like to add elements of nature to things that usually wouldn’t be related to nature. For example, I take pleasure in adding trees, roots, and mountains and merging those elements with the human figure or an unrelated composition. I enjoy finding clever and refreshing ways to incorporate nature in one way or another into my pieces. I wouldn’t say that all my pieces have a hidden element of nature hidden but its definitely a reoccurring theme.
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
Yes, I made a mural in my room when I was in 9th grade. I remember that my Dad was very skeptical and wasn’t too sure if he wanted a 14-year-old to permanently paint all over the house wall. It took some time and some persuasion from my Mom to convince Dad to greenlight the project. I ended up painting an 6 by 9-foot eagle that is still there to this day. The eagle is very reminiscent of the one on the Mexican flag. I hold this piece dear because its a constant reminder of the amount of support that I got in such a vital part of my development as an artist. I look back at the piece today, and it sure looks primitive and rough around the edges. I always swore to go over it and give the eagle a face lift. But as time goes by I think it’s a good reminder for me to not take my family’s support for granted and my Mom has become increasingly attached to it.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I was always an artist at heart but I had the opportunity to work with some immensely talented and inspirational people. I think that my college experience was what catapulted my artistic skills to the next level. I was fortunate enough to work at the Center for Diversity and Social Justice at Central Washington University as a graphic designer and my abilities as an artist were pushed to the limit. Not only was I asked to make promotional pieces and designs but I had to meet a level of quality that made me work like I have had before. I worked with tight deadlines and specific instruction, things that sharpened me as an artist. For the first time, I was getting paid a consistent check to make art and I was “running with the bulls” so to speak. I think that it was a period of immense growth and I learned so much, and I'm forever grateful for that opportunity.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I have been experimenting with photography and videography and I'm excited to begin making YouTube videos in the near future. I want to showcase the making of some of my pieces and add some cool editing and graphics. By no means am I a filmmaker, but I would like to start making videos in the upcoming weeks.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee?
I kind of stick to the classics. I usually take a white chocolate mocha with no whipped cream :)