was born in downtown Los Angeles, but raised in the coastal community of Venice, CA. I'm the oldest of 5 children. My mother's an artist and so was my maternal grandfather, so when, as a toddler, I showed a propensity for drawing and painting, I found lots of extended family support.
Venice is a pretty bohemian community, and as such, has attracted artists, writers, musicians and actors from around the world. This provides the local high school, Venice High, with some of the most creative art teachers in the United States. In addition to their very progressive teaching approaches (my teacher, Betty Edwards, wrote the influential, "Drawing On the Right Side of Your Brain") we were made aware of the great art schools (CalArts (the Chouinard Art Institute) and the Art Center School of Design) that Southern California offers. It was one of these teachers, Eleanor Pardoe, that encouraged me to participate in the CalArts Saturday drawing program for high school students. These very aware teachers also made sure we knew how and when to apply to the art schools, in our senior year, and that our portfolios were appropriate and complete in time for submission deadlines. I was extremely fortunate to have these teachers looking out for me.
The particulars of my family and where I grew up contributed significantly to the art I create today. Many feel the palettes I tend to use are influenced by Hispanic roots (my maternal grandfather, Francisco Gomez, remained a Mexican citizen his entire life). While this may be true, I think much credit should also be given to the incredible light Southern California offers and its impact on everything it illuminates. This is never more true than on her beaches, where I spent a great deal of time as a kid. Surfing and surf culture played ahuge role in my life. Along with my crew, we traveled up and down the coast of California, from San Francisco to Mexico, searching out that perfect break and mind expanding ride. Brown bodies in day-glow fabrics against the white sand or outrageously colored wetsuits paddling out through the aqua surf paints a lasting impression in your head.
The southern Cal sun also lights up some of the most stunning graffiti murals in the world. Walking down particular streets is akin to visiting a new outsider exhibit in an art gallery: impossible for this incredible street art not to creep into your work.
Other powerful, if not obvious, influences on what I do are Braque and Picasso (how can these two inventors of cubism and multiple viewpoint perspective, standing on the shoulders of Cezanné, not be an influence), Matisse, Gauguin, Lautrec, Van Gogh, Klee and Kandinsky. Honestly, I'm a bit of a sponge. I believe any painter's work I've ever seen has influenced my work on some level.
I watched a lot of animation on television, when I was young. In addition to contemporary anime, manga and stuff, a lot of the old pure black and white animated cartoons from the '20s and '30s were still available. I'm convinced this all had a lasting influence. I know there's a strong belief that television can have a negative effect on creativity, but in my case, this viewing of toons at an early age seems to have been a catalyst for creativity. I'll leave this to the experts to sort out.
Genetic gifts, creative support, and cultural influences culminated in the best of higher educations at CalArts, where I had a hell of a lot of fun, met life-long friends and received my BFA.