Studio Visits: Kevin Muñoz
Art and graphic design meet in a windowless East Austin studio
Kevin Muñoz is my neighbor; I met him while walking my dog. Living where I do, I was first introduced to Muñoz's work by way of his ever-changing balcony facade. Facing out toward the street, one Halloween the Muñoz family transformed its balcony into a giant, gaping, plaque-ridden maw. Muñoz, who is one of a group of artists/curators renting studio space at the Okay Mountain building, has been an East Austin Studio Tour staple over the past few years. Furry affect-ridden monsters cut from Beautiful Losers-esque cloth and clever wordplay (in his studio is a painting of pastel-colored rays radiating out from a corner with the wry text "my sun is gay") are his bailiwick. This makes sense for an artist who began his own design career working for Paul Frank. The design/art relationship is one he continues to explore.
Austin Chronicle: How is your studio organized?
Kevin Muñoz: I used to share my studio with another person, and the walls were painted black and white to mark the separation of space. But then when he moved out, that became a way to organize my studio – half is client-driven design work and the other half is fine artwork. There are no windows; that's my only gripe.
AC: You would love a window.
KM: I love daylight. It's funny, sometimes I get stuck in here working all day, and I'll step out into the hall and look down towards the street, and it will suddenly hit me: "Window! Light!"
AC: So you lose a sense of time while working?
KM: For sure. My studio can be a busy place, though. I've got a daughter, and sometimes her car pool drops her off here. Or sometimes I bring my dogs. That's great because then I have to walk them. Being outside is something I don't naturally want to do while I'm intently "in the work." But I realize that can also be so important for the work.
AC: How so?
KM: There's this struggle in the working process, and you're going over a variety of possible solutions/options. But if I'm outside, I'm still wrestling with the same set of questions, yet it's different. I'm more relaxed, and so I get to fight the same battle from a different vantage point.
AC: How do you manage your time between client projects and your own artwork? What's the relationship?
KM: I love deadlines. If I have a show coming up, then I know I have to make work for it. I love having that "problem." For example, I recently participated in Mexic-Arte [Museum]'s Mix 'n' Mash, and I had to come up with something. I began thinking about growing up in Orange County, California. As a kid there was this place, Silver Star Canyon, where my friends and I would go to hang out, party, or whatever. I remember it as a spooky place. I started doing research on the canyon, and I found that a massacre of Native Americans happened in that very canyon. So there's really something to why I felt so unsettled in that place. Thinking about this, I started drawing these hills with earthen-faced figures. Now they keep cropping up for me. In my own work and in client work.
More of Kevin Muñoz's work can be found at www.kevinmunoz.us.