Art and design student Adrian Gonzalez scours a thrift store before finding what he is looking for—an old vintage chair.
When he gets home, he places it on the floor, cleans it up and takes a seat to try it out. He then stands, grabs an aluminum baseball bat and begins breaking the chair to bits.
Gonzalez arranges the pieces on a canvas placed flat on the floor, adds blue and green shades of paint and dribbles water all over to create an “ocean feel.” He grabs his camera and begins taking pictures, rearranges the splintered wood, then takes more shots. He does this several times.
Now back at his computer, he adds graphic elements and a title, “The Chairs,” to his piece, and to finish it up the name “Eugène Ionesco,” the internationally-acclaimed French dramatist who wrote the play of the same name in 1952.
“I take a bunch of photos and choose the one that matches the composition I’m looking for in terms of space in the pieces I’m creating,” said Gonzalez, a senior at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). “I include unusual photography in my work, which seems to be a little risky in graphic design. I also like including three-dimensional objects in my work.”
Gonzalez says his artistic style is “not really defined” due to the mix of mediums in his work and range of topics he explores.
Defined or not, the premier graphic design magazine Communications Arts likes his style so much it selected five of Gonzalez’s pieces for its inaugural “Student Showcase” that appeared in the publication’s 21st Annual Interactive Competition March/April issue. He was one of only 15 students across the nation whose works were chosen to be featured in full-page spreads.
“I was very shocked when I heard I won. I wasn’t really expecting it because I was competing against students from very well-known private schools, such as The Arts Center and the Academy of Art,” said Gonzalez, who lives in Long Beach. “Michele Bury [CSUDH art and design professor] emailed me the link to enter the competition and submit my portfolio. So I did—just to see what would happen. A month later, I got an email letting me know my work would be featured in the magazine.”
Along with examples of their work, the magazine, which is distributed worldwide both in print and for the Apple iPad, included biographic profiles of the student artists and descriptions of their featured art.
“Our hope is that this showcase offers insight into the next generation of visual communicators,” wrote Patrick Coyne, editor of Communications Arts, in a statement. “We were extremely impressed and look forward to bringing our readers even more emerging talent next year.”
Gonzalez showed an interest in creating art in early grade school.
“It’s kind of funny. They asked me in third grade, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said ‘art,’” he shared, “but I really started pushing it in high school. When I entered community college I enrolled as an art education major—I wanted to teach art. But when I transferred to Cal State Dominguez Hills I changed my major to graphic design, which has worked out well because I’m more fluent with hands-on techniques.”
Gonzalez received CSUDH’s Winston Hewitt Scholarship in 2014. He currently works as a student designer in the university’s Loker Student Union creating such work as the 2015 Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition logo and announcement.
With the pages of Communications Arts in his portfolio, Gonzalez envisions a creative future in the art industry, but will keep an eye out for other possibilities.
“A lot of people have mentioned to me that being included in this magazine may be a ticket into the art industry, which is great because more employers are looking for up-and-coming graphic designers; people who have a modern style,” he said. “After graduation, I’m going to stick my foot in the door of the art industry. Maybe, after a few years, I’ll go back to my original plan of teaching, but will be open to learning more because there’s always room for improvement. You never really stop being a student.”