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Meet Jose Velasquez of Weecho Forever in North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jose Velasquez.

Jose, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in a small town called Zapata, TX along the US/Mexico border. The nearest city, Laredo is about 50 miles away. The makeup of the town is about 95% Hispanic and generally conservative.

I really wanted to get out and see the world so I knew I had to get into college. I decided to sign up for Architecture school at Texas A&M University to make sure my parents were happy. Besides, I figured Architects draw a bunch so at least I’d still get to do what I loved. On the first day of orientation my advisor asked me what interested me. When I mentioned computers and drawing he pointed me towards a small section within the architecture school that did 3D design called The Visualization Lab.

The Visualization Lab at A&M was really inspiring. I was surrounded by super talented students that were focused on creating beautiful, groundbreaking art. This really pushed me to explore and develop my artistic practice.

After four years, I was accepted as an intern at Pixar. There I got an idea of what it was like to work in industry. I realized that a career in the CG industry would allow me to be creative and push me to work on my own art.

I came back to A&M for grad school and took a summer industry course. This introduced me to one of my first mentors (who I still work with every day). She really guided me and helped me develop my work so that I could eventually get a job at Disney Animation and I’ve been there ever since.

Now that I’ve got a job that pays the bills, it’s really given me the opportunity to explore my own work and I’m really lucky that my day job influences my personal work. I don’t think I would feel satisfied if I wasn’t able to work on my personal art as often as I do so I really appreciate where I am right now in life.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to where I am has been full of self-doubt and personal growth. The first challenge was being self-aware enough to know that in order to pursue my passion, I had to think of it practically as well as romantically.

I knew I wanted to be an artist from early on, but my parents really instilled the idea that first I needed to be able to have a career. This guided me to move my passion beyond a hobby. It also helped me set long-term goals that kept me focused and got me to get a degree in a related field so that I could develop a career that supports my personal art.

This all comes with its own set of challenges. Time management has been the biggest struggle lately. I’ve had to really strip down a lot of what I do in order to be able to dedicate enough hours for painting and drawing. This has meant changing the way I think of my time and its value. I now use my time it to either work on my art or to strategically recharge so that I can have the energy to create more work.

It involves a lot of sacrifice and focus, but I’m super happy with the amount of work I’m currently putting out. I feel like I’m finding a balance between wanting to create more art and having a sustainable life where I don’t completely exhaust myself.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a part-time illustrator focused on lowbrow and typography that sells merchandise and paintings based on my art.

I am proud of my slow growth as a merchant and that (through many experiments) I’ve honed in on a sustainable model for selling my art that I’m implementing in the next coming months.

I think the thing that sets me apart is the combination of my stylistic influences. I think of it as lowbrow cartoons and graffiti mixed with the attitudes found in counterculture all jammed up in a blender and applied to print design.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up drawing a lot as a kid. I hated school so my art really helped keep me out of trouble.

A couple of years before highschool I was able to get online and I was introduced to the world of counterculture. That really influenced my taste. I gravitated towards hacker culture and artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Faile, The Gorillaz, 123 Klan, and directors like Katsuhiro Otomo and Spike Jonze. These are still some of the things I draw on for inspiration today.

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