Finding the art in the comic book-style

by MIKE CHAIKEN

If you’re a fan of a graphic art style akin to classic comic books, you’ll be a fan of Leonardo Gonzalez, one of the artists currently featured at Bare Bones in Bristol.
Leonardo, a New Britain resident, is showing several pieces at the new location of Bare Bones, downtown’s fluid storefront, on School Street.
Leonardexplained he’s no newcomer to the community known as Bare Bones. Last year when Bare Bones had a fundraising 5K race through downtown, Leonardo designed a running skeleton specifically for the event.
Although Gonzalez has found his niche in a graphic artistic style, in an interview at Bare Bones, he said it wasn’t always this way.
“That is my preference now,” said Leonardo, who is studying at the University of Hartford for bachelor’s of fine arts in illusatration. “I used to be a lot looser (with my artistic style). I didn’t have a process I’d just start something, go at it, and end up (with a) failure.”
Leonard explained, “The illustration process actually gives me a beginning, middle and end. Something that I’m happy with.”
Comic books loom large in Leonardo’s artistic inspiration.
“Mostly (my influences were) comic books,” said Leonardo. “Ninety percent were comic books. The other 10 percent were fine artists: Van Gogh, Cezanne, Francis Bacon… I kind of fell out of the comic book thing for a while but I’m back at it and I’m actually making a living doing these comic book things.”
Asked what he liked about the comic book style he favors, Leonardo said, “You can tell a story, a flashy story, a horror story. Oh yeah, it’s a big creature this or that. But there’s an underlying theme that you can do anything even if you have a disadvantage or if you’re a male or female, black, white, whatever. It doesn’t really matter.”
As for how he approaches his comic book art, Leonardo said, “The work I’m doing now, I get a script, and flesh out the script how I want it. Almost like a movie… I’m in charge of the camera angles, the storyboarding, the lighting, how the characters look. I enjoy that. And I get paid for that, which is pretty good.”
Talking about when he first discovered a love for art, Leonardo said, “I was pretty young actually, 5 or 6. I would always watch my uncles draw. I was always harassing them, ‘Can you draw me a dog or draw me a shark. I’d see them draw and try to copy it.”
Leonardo said when he was young he didn’t get a lot of support for art from his schools. It was something that he focused on at home.
“I was born and raised in New York and a lot of the schools there didn’t have a good art program,” said Leonardo.
When he moved to Connecticut, and started attending New Britain High School, Leonardo finally found his passion nurtured in school.
As an artist, Leonardo’s goals are simple. “(I want) to get better at what I do. To be recognized… (For people to say) This is Leonardo Gonzales, this is what he can do.”
From that recognition as an artist, Leonardo said “(I want to) apply it and use it. ‘Leonardo is showing at so and so gallery in downtown Bristol.’ (I want to help) get a kind of turn out (at the gallery), help out the community, and get everyone involved.
Leonardo said his goal for his art is not about “me-me-me, (and getting a) big car and a big house. I don’t need that.”
Instead, Leonardo said he wants to use his eventual artistic reputation “to help out … (and) connect the artwork to the community.”
“That’s what I’m after,” said Leonardo.
Leonardo Gonzalez’s artwork is on display at Bare Bones, 156 School St., Bristol.  For more information on Gonzalez, go to leonardogonzalez.webs. com