The Future is Now: An Interview with Josan Gonzalez

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Josan Gonzalez is an artist that has exploded onto the science fiction art scene. If you aren’t familiar with his name but are remotely involved with the cyberpunk community, then you’ve seen his art making the circuit. His imagery is inspired and tickles that “High Tech, Low Life” portion of your brain. The level of detail and complexity rivals that of Moebius, Katsuhiro Otomo, and Enki Bilal. Gonzalez is currently running a Kickstarter that will end on April, 13th 2016. Neon Dystopia had the honor of interviewing him.

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ND: I’ve looked through your pieces available online, and I noticed that much of your art has a similar level of detail and colorization as that of Jean Giraud (Mœbius). Was Mœbius an inspiration for your work in the Future is Now series? Who are your other influences?

Gonzalez: I’m from Spain and since I was a teen I’ve always read European comics. I got to know Moebius early and it has been a huge influence on my work. But I do believe that people keep comparing my work to Moebius simply because he is the most famous and the most iconic. When I look at my work I can see other influences perhaps way more obvious than Moebius. I’m hugely influenced by Geof Darrow when it comes to details and linework and most of the way I compose and use space it’s influenced by Katsuhiro Otomo. I would say my colors owe the most to Dave Stewart (legendary colorist from Hellboy, BPRD and many, many more), a combination of everything makes my style, and then there are a million other masters that have left a mark on my style, Enki Bilal, Katsuya Terada, Manara, Loisel… And of course, a good part of myself. This thing about the influences is always funny and disturbing. People seem to take a great effort to put a label on you and try to sort of put you on a map, “your work looks like this guy” as if negating your own identity or the possibility of your work just being something on its own.

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ND: Much of your art has a cyberpunk edge and aesthetic, how has the cyberpunk genre influenced your ideas and work? Is there any specific cyberpunk media that is close to your heart?

Gonzalez: Its a bit curious, I never intended to do cyberpunk, like, you know, “I’m gonna draw a cyberpunk illustration and I will follow this certain rules that will make sure this is a cyberpunk illustration.” I simply started creating stuff and thinking about how to create a world that would be more or less futuristic, but no necessarily logical or realistic. For example, something that a lot of people have mentioned, everything is connected by cables, and looking at our present its pretty obvious the future will be 100% wireless, but cables are a good metaphor for our connection and link to technology. So by doing what I thought looked good and exciting it seems that I was doing cyberpunk. I would like to think that I’m also creating stuff that is not necessarily classic cyberpunk and expanding the genre, but that is more a wish or a goal than a reality ;).
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like Cyberpunk or that I’m not influenced by the genre, Neuromancer is amongst my favorite novels.

thefuture1ND: Many of your pieces seem to be inspired by religious imagery. I noticed Catholic and Hindu influences. Was this intentional?

Gonzalez: I think the Hindu part is just the girl that has four arms because it could be connected to the imagery around Shiva. There are different approaches to religion in my pieces. I’m not a religious person but it doesn’t mean it’s a taboo for me. Spain is a very catholic country by tradition and history, and some of the symbols and customs of Catholicism have been so integrated into the fabric of society for centuries that they just seem like something natural. I like to play with that, so sometimes religious symbols are just something random and banal that characters might wear on their clothes or have on their houses, just another brand. There are other illustrations, where you see a scarier look into religion, as an extreme, just like many other extremes that are present in the book such as police brutality or abuse of technology. I don’t intend to give a lecture on religion, the same way I don’t intend to do on politics, it’s just about creating a world that is believable but also strange and fantastic.

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ND: Social issues like police brutality and media saturation seem prevalent in your work. In what way do these issues interest you?

Gonzalez: The part with police brutality follows from classical tropes in dystopian universes. In the world of The Future is Now the government has total control and freedom of speech is repressed. The population is also controlled and kept sedated by their addiction to technology, these are traits of the world created intentionally. I know it’s a bit typical but I like it because it’s a good environment to create interesting characters and situations. Besides that, I do like to explore social themes but I always put the illustration first, creating a great image that will be iconic and interesting and then layering it with all the rest, if that makes sense.

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ND: On your website, it says you are from Barcelona, Spain. Has the civil unrest in the country inspired you at all?

Gonzalez: I think the news has greatly exaggerated what happens (or happened) on the streets. Spain has a lot of problems, poverty and unemployment being the worst ones but the situation is extremely normal, even boring. I would say what did inspire me though is the events that happened in Ukraine in 2014. From what I’ve heard around, it’s known as the Ukranian Revolution. It inspired me to do some of the first pieces from the Future is Now 1. It was about that time that I started doing stuff for the book and most of the pieces involving police charges or social guerrillas are from around that time. Even though I did watch those events from the filter of mass media.
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ND: On your Facebook, I noticed that you work as a colorist for both BOOM! and Dark Horse comics. What comics have you worked on?

Gonzalez: I’ve worked on several comics as a colorist. This has been my main freelance activity for the last 3-4 years. I colored a Dark Shadows miniseries for Dynamite, some Vampirella issues, then I’ve been the colorist of The Woods for Boom! Studios since issue #1, and also colored some short stories for the comic book adaptation of The Maze Runner.

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ND: I noticed that you have also worked with 20th Century Fox and a number of clothing companies. What was your role with them?

Gonzalez: I worked as a fashion illustrator for many years before jumping to coloring and pure illustration. I did mostly illustrations and designs for t-shirts, usually following trends or specific assignments from the client. My work for 20th Century Fox is basically the coloring I did for the Maze Runner comic book since the people from Fox was on the other end of the line sending approvals and changes for the pages, I thought I should count them as a client and looks fairly impressive, I know! It’s a bit like cheating, haha.
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ND: Due to your contacts within the comic industry, are you planning on doing your own comic at some point?

Gonzalez: I will, I’m working on a couple projects that go in that direction. I would also love to develop The Future is Now into a story. I have a draft for it already but I’m starting to like the idea of trying to turn it into a 2D animated film rather than a comic book, something that goes beyond my budget, power or knowledge but something that it’s worth to pursue.

If you like Gonzalez’s work, consider supporting his ongoing Kickstarter. Even if this doesn’t fit into your budget, I would suggest checking out his Kickstarter page. It is a kind of immersive experience in the world of The Future is Now. Gonzalez has managed to create a Kickstarter pitch that doesn’t break the fourth wall and makes you feel like you might just be a citizen of Robo-City 16. Beware, however, the Robo-President K3n3-DY has stated that not enough individuals have been terminated at Checkpoint K.

You can see more of Josan Gonzalez’s work on Deviant Art, Tumblr, or his website. He can be contacted via Facebook.

5 Responses to “The Future is Now: An Interview with Josan Gonzalez”

    • Noora, onko sulla take away -sushia varten omat astiat? Täällä Tampereella ainakin keitto tulee pahvimukiin ja “kääryleet” muovirasiaan. Olenkin ajatellut ottaa ensi kerralla mukaan termosmukin ja oman rasian, jotta jäisi kersakäyttörotkat ottamatta 🙂

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