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Jack | Courtesy of Emonic
Jack | Courtesy of Emonic
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Emonic: The South Bay’s Working Artist

Picture of Anthony Mauro
Updated: 21 June 2016
The title is misleading. Or rather, the title is focused through a very narrow lens. The artist known throughout the South Bay as Emonic isn’t the only working artist in the area, not by any means. But he is a representative case of working artists in the Greater Bay Area. Taking the odd design job, going to conventions, and pulling all-nighters are standard fare for making a living off of making art.
Growl | Courtesy of Emonic

Emo Gonzales, or Emonic as he’s better known, lives in Milpitas, a suburb that both Fremont and San Jose claim as their own. This position between the East Bay and the South Bay would seem like an odd place for an artist like Emonic to flourish. Trapped between the hip-hop scene that dominates the East Bay and the skate punk scene for which San Jose is famous, Emonic not only embraced both identities, but melded them into his own unique style inspired by skateboarding, music, and comic books.

Like many artists, both world-renowned and working, Emonic is self-taught. Starting as a young boy, he would draw comic book characters out of the Marvel and DC books he would read at the time. Later in life he would attend art school and earn an A.S. in Multimedia. And while he does attribute his schooling for giving him a better sense of graphic design as well a wider range of tools with which to create art, he learned the most from copying images he liked and deconstructing how they were made.

Bus Stop Sketch | Courtesy of Emonic

Having worked for years creating his own style and sense of self through his art wasn’t a free pass for a career, however. And that is true of all working artists. That’s why they are called ‘working,’ they have to work for it. And he did. Whether it was the odd job at a latex warehouse, a lower management position at a tech company, or even stocking shelves at a bookstore, Emonic worked. Each eight hour shift was followed by a sleepless night of drawing haunting figures in headphones, forlorn robots, and ghoulish beings obsessed with red tendrils.

The decision to dedicate your life to your art is always a scary one to make, for any artist. Emonic’s was borne out of a joke made in a backyard on a warm summer evening. Drinking with a friend, complaining about work, Emonic suggested that they both quit and just work on their art. They laughed, took a sip of beer, turned to each other and realized that that was exactly what they were going to do.

Horn Sketch | Courtesy of Emonic

Focusing completely on art meant a restructuring of life for Emonic to make it feasible. At this point he was already familiar with the convention circuit, a season starting late spring lasting through early fall of ever popular comic conventions taking place around the country. So, aside from the behemoth that is San Diego Comic Con, Emonic decided to add a few more to his schedule. At these conventions, he takes commissions, sells original work, high quality prints, and most importantly establishes fans. In fact, go to any comic-based convention and you’ll see dozens of artists doing something similar.

And it’s paid off. He’s his own boss, he makes his own schedule, and more importantly he’s creating haunting works of art. His pieces have been featured in galleries around the Bay Area such as the KALIED Gallery in San Jose. He’s at a point where he’s living off of his art, which isn’t at all why he makes art, but it’s positive side effect of talent, determination, and a lot of sleepless nights.

The biggest thing that keeps working artists like Emonic afloat is what he refers to as ‘lily pad jumping,’ the act of taking freelance graphic design jobs, commissions, and occasional work on comics and graphic novels. Never having a guaranteed ‘next’ paycheck, but always working on the craft, and making a living out of art. And as for the late nights, Emonic still has them, working on lining up gigs and helping out his friends with their dreams during the day, working on paintings of sentient moons and drawings of horned skulls until dawn’s first light shines onto his work table.

Extension | Courtesy of Emonic