Today we’d like to introduce you to Snakebite Cortez.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I don’t know if it’s unique. It might be pretty typical. I grew up all over Central California. A latch key kid, to divorced parents. A teacher father and ever career changing mother whom I lived with. I could be shy but adventurous. I eventually got really into comic books and animation. There was a period of my youth where I moved around a lot and I was a new kid at about 7 different schools in four years. So, solitude and drawing were my best friend for a minute. And as I got into my high school days I moved in with my Pops, he just moved to a small farming community, which was more stable and helped me gain more confidence. I met some other kids who drew comic books and experienced my first collaborations! Fun stuff. I also found a new love in High School theater and joined a comedy club where we would sell tickets and perform in front of the school during lunch. Hustling our creations! We were always hanging out and creating content after school and on weekends, which included original video productions that we shot and edited. Back then in the late 80’s early 90’s no one had video cameras or editing equipment. Long story short, we had to get creative, but we were the only kids embracing media in our town and were selling our performances.
I didn’t have enough money nor was I smart enough for college so I ended up in junior college where I continued my acting, hanging out with musicians, and living off of noodles. At that point in my life I had no idea that I could make money drawing. Let alone building a career off it. I barely got by.
A year and half into J.C. I met someone, while looking for a job in the mall, who presented me with an opportunity to join this new comic book company headed up by a handful of dudes who were leaving DC and Marvel to start their own company called Image. He liked my color work on my art and said that this company was using computers to pioneer new coloring techniques and needed people to fill those positions. I helped him make the trek from the Bay Area to Los Angeles to work for them and while I was with him I met the right people that extended a way to submit pages to audition for the part. After a year of submitting my work I was offered the job. So, I packed up my things and moved to Beverly!
Well, Orange County that is…at that time…
Even to this day 26 years later, living and working in Hollywood, one of the many creative hats I still wear in the business is comic book coloring.
I learned a lot about drawing while coloring some of the top artists in the business. The first company I worked for was on the top at that moment and I was meeting lots of different creative people. I’d worked for most of the top comic book companies but wanted to do more with my creativity and I had to meet new people and take advantage of this new community I was participating with. And I did.
From comics, to animation, to video games, to music, to fashion design, jewelry, leather clothes and accessories to starting up an art gallery to photography and video production. I can do that! That was the journey that unfolded.
My history is filled with rich experiences and more failures than successes.
But all I know is art, not only as a lifestyle but as a livelihood. It’s a blessing and at times a curse. There’s a big burden in this choice but the rewards are greater.
I didn’t go to art school to get into the business, although about 10 years into my career I did enroll in The Animation Academy where I sharpened my drawing skills. Also, the school emphasized business and legal sensibilities. The mentor to my first mentor owned the school. It needed to happen. Being able to draw is the number one thing that sets me apart in any creative industry I work in. It was a smart decision I made to go to that school to get my game tighter. Also, eventually I became a photoshop teacher at The Academy and I carried the spirit of the teacher with me as I continued on my path. Not just a teacher of art, but for business sensibilities as well.
I want my community to be filled with success stories! I want to be a part of that prosperity.
Another career advantage was my desire for mentors in my life and taking on rolls as an apprentice allowed me to move into new circles, show them my work ethic and that I was reliable which opened new doors to me. As a result, every position I took I ended up working with some of the top companies rather quickly. Which was both dreams coming true and hard-core reality wake up calls.
Selling your hours has a ceiling. Ownership is everything!!!
Today I am developing original content and am moving towards the goal of producer/writer/director.
I’m an artist first and foremost of course, but I see myself more at the helm of what it is I’m working for.
I have been a soldier and now I consider myself a leader purely out of necessity of my intention.
Please tell us about your art.
I’m a multimedia guy who loves collaboration and being a part of bringing out the best in creative intentions. Since I have worked in many different positions my abilities grew in deadline-oriented atmospheres. New skills are developed alongside the needs or new clients. Most, not all, but most of my education comes from the next gig which established the next “problem’ to solve. Luckily, I’ve been paid to learn, which it’s how it should be in my opinion. Although in addition to my regular gigs I’m also currently working on personal story development which requires self-motivation and instigation of acquiring new abilities. IE education not paid for. However, that is an investment in self! Which to be real I’m merely paying with time for the most part since anything I could want to learn is easily found on the inter webs for free! Although there is the price of new applications, plug in, gear etc.…
My history as a digital artist, illustrator, designer, apprentice, educator and entrepreneur has lead me right where I need to be. Right here, right now, still carving my path, still pioneering, still creating and building new possibilities. All my detours have given me a deeper understanding to what it is I am attempting.
My personal style comes from developing original concepts and story lines. I lean towards science fiction with some social commentary and satire pushing the way and some metaphysics to bring it home. The subjects tend to be strong women, whether in the thick of the battle or tapped into spirit. I like a good juxtaposition and contradiction with my enlightenment. The balance. I also tend to explore styles using new technology and applications, allowing myself to express freely at times without any purpose other than to have fun and find happy accidents. Bob Ross wisdom 101.
Always leave room for happy little accidents!
Along the way I developed my actual voice as well. Artists should have strong opinions and the ability to communicate them effectively! And the things I was experiencing in the business moved me to speak. When the internet started to become more a social thing around 1999-2000 I started to become more active on message boards. Even helped start a couple. I couldn’t type to save my life and learned the skill set engaging and even arguing with people online about any number of subjects I was passionate about. Hell, you can even get into an argument trying to encourage people to empower themselves. HA! Alas, the plight of the world wide web.
True story by the way, I did actually learn how to type getting into it online. Now I have the fastest index and thumb typing skills on the planet! Come at me!
You’d be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t be depending on your personal experience, as to the obstacles artists face not only with the executive branches of what we do but within the artist clique circles as well You’re going to meet a lot of dick faces, people you might not relate to and you’re going to have to cut through a lot of haters in order to continue and prosper.
At times it can feel like life rafts of warriors in a sea of cowards…I say this only because I know my experience is not unique in that regard. However, for every Meany there’s also tons of sweeties. Remember that and stay strong…And in the meantime learn to swim if you haven’t already.
Also, don’t forget that you will fuck up and fail a bunch. Mistakes are important. As long as you keep it moving.
Never stop. Stopping is death.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
I think what’s going on today is the result of how the roll of the artist has changed already. We’re starting to wise up and now I could say I’m seeing more artists return to the rolls they once had. Although there are some fundamental factors and protections in place that need to be considered. Creators need to understand what copyright and trademark is and how that insures their creative investments. As flawed as copyright can be, in a capitalist system, another flawed system, it’s something that makes sure we control and own the flow of what we manifest and that enables us to take care of our families with what we create.
I also find that if you’re not authentic in the long run you won’t last. I see a lot of transitions happening in the different fields I have worked in, which transitions can be tough, however now more artists are able to break free, own their content and become employers instead of just employees. Which creates more possibilities for employment of other creative people? Lots of new possibilities ahead of us! And lots of hard work as well!
There are more avenues to tap into expanding one’s independent economies! Which is what I support the most. Letting go of being a service provider and focus on being a content creator and owner. That’s my war cry.
Also, there are more platforms in need of content and need to finance people who know what they are doing. So, if you can see your ideas from conception through distribution you are an asset! More than an asset, you are the foundation. I’d be so bold as to say this probably applies to everything worth doing.
Find the others! Go to where your people are. Whatever it is you create, there is a community of people who have platforms and shows/events that debut and present them alongside your peers. Same with online, there are online communities where people are doing the same thing as you, sharing information and experience! There are also others who are there looking to buy and/or participate with creators.
Participation is key!!! If you don’t show up, who’s going to know? Mental note, not everyone is going to be your people along the way. Keep it moving. Alright?
For me it’s all about the International audience! I’ve had experience with international supporters. It’s amazing. What a recharge. To not only connect with people in your country but people world-wide??? Nothing quite like it. You might not understand what they are saying all the time but you certainly pick up on their excitement. Again, artists need those refueling stations in the form of other people’s reaction to our work.
Technology makes it easy for us to stay in our boxes but connecting with people physically is a very important ingredient to your success. It’s not just about what you create, but how you connect to others as you go and grow. Stir it up! Most importantly at this stage of my life Gratitude plays the lead role. I appreciate your time and space.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can go to www.snakebitecortez.com for both some of my old and some of my current work for hire creations. You can also find all my original development there as well. Make sure to check out the “Services” and “Original Content” sections of my menu and hit the “Sign Up for Newsletter” button so I can keep you updated to everything I’m working on.
I’m super excited about what’s unfolding with Munkee Kittee, the first hybrid avatar! Find her at www.munkeekittee.com. An adventure, sci fi, metaphysical transmedia story Co created by me and the amazing Samee Tatu! We’ve already soft released a short story online but plan on a more aggressive campaign of new art and stories starting September of this year, 2018. I’m debuting some new art from Munkee Kittee here with VoyageLA!
You can also follow me @snakebitecortez on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. If you like what you see, please share!
It’s fun to think there are people alive that don’t have a clue as to how hard it uses to be to find something that spoke to us. Art or otherwise. Now it’s a click away. As a result, there are plenty of people I know who love to customize their lives like me. And these days customization doesn’t mean exclusive or unaffordable. It’s more in the way of how people choose to spend their money and their time. They have more options than ever before. More fun! That can have both good and bad implications, but in the context of content creating and distribution, finding the tools to manifest and the people who appreciate what it is we do is easier than ever. It makes us more able to create the content others enjoy which can lead to a very prosperous and autonomous future.
- Website: www.snakebitecortez.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/snakebitecortez/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SNAKEBITECORTEZ
- Other: https://www.youtube.com/SnakebiteCortez
Images © Snakebite Cortez
Models: Sameerah Hoddison, Aneiszka Sea, Angel Lin, Jennifer Roberts