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.
Matthew Irwin, Fri., May 10, 2013
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