Posted May 11, 2014 by Yuri Mangahas in Comics

LET’S TALK COMICS: Of Rainbow Colors And Pencils – One on One With Rian Gonzales!

Psychedelic. Colorful. Vibrant.

Those are the common adjectives you’ll hear whenever someone critiques Rian Gonzales’ works. Truth be told, they are apt, given her style in rendering exquisite and beautiful artworks. It would seem that a great virtuoso from an era long gone has reemerged, in the persona of this sweet and bubbly young lass.

We sat down with Rian for a quick chat regarding her background, style, and her apparent love of sweets.


FLIPGEEKS: Let’s start with a simple introduction: Tell us a bit about yourself. You can include some facts we don’t know.
RIAN GONZALES: I’m Rian Gonzales, a freelance illustrator who believes she’s made of candy and keeps making false promises of chocolate chip walnut cookies and palabok. I love colors. I can literally make Batman puke rainbows and Joker pet a rainbow unicorn. My goal in life is to try my best not be diabetic, work for Disney, make my own comic and get a photo taken with Stan Lee. I like the smell of Artline markers and hate guyabano tasting candies.

FG: Wow, that’s quite an intro. So, could we presume that you really love sweets, as based on your description?
RG: Pretty much, haha!

FG: Since you have mentioned comic books and Stan Lee, tell us, how did your love for comics start?
RG: Well it started back in grade school. I was first introduced to the comic world via Archie, Betty and Veronica, W.I.T.C.H., Spider-Man and the Philippines’ very own Culture Crash. My parents used to buy them for me as presents. as time passes, I grew fond of panels, speech balloons and peculiar characters page after page, comic after comic and set after set. But alas, as i grew older, a.k.a. Became a high school student, allowance was invented and it was a battle between 2 pieces BBQ sticks and mango graham ref cake over a comic. It was only recently that I started reading and buying comics that peaked my interest again and it feels like dopamine in my system.

FG: Interesting. It’s actually evident with your works. Would it suffice to say that your love of comics helped you love illustrating too?
RG: Fo sho, monsieur. Haha!

FG: Alright. Since I brought up illustrating , when and how did it dawn to you that you actually liked doing it?
RG: I hate doing math and when you aren’t blessed with the patience for numbers, there are only two things to choose from. Arts and Music. I love both. When I was a kid, I’d go ahead and drool over how nicely drawn Cardcaptor Sakura is and how fluid the animation of Peter Pan flying over Neverland is. I thought to myself that someday, I hope I may be able to create such wonderful things as well. With this in mind, i joined various organizations and competitions as a training ground for me to exercise this enthusiasm over arts. It is a constant learning process and I’m enjoying every bit of it.

Spider-Women by Rian Gonzales.

FG: That’s great. If I may say, you’re one of those artists who seem to constantly evolve every time. Your style’s also unique, in a sense that it’s….. Well, psychedelic. Why did you choose to adapt that kind of style?
RG: Awwww garsh, thank you so much! *hands you cookies* haha! I guess being a 90’s kid, I was exposed to a lot of animated tv series, Sailor Moon, Sanrio characters and Lisa Frank’s art which is a big part of my influence map when it comes to color. I just like how colors make you feel all giddy inside. How it radiates a sense of unique and enchanting play into your works and make characters come to life. Im a generally bubbly person and I think it says a lot about me in general.

FG: True indeed. I remember you told me once that you can’t last an hour sketching w/out adding colors on it. What are your weapons of choice in terms of illustrating?
RG: Mechanical pencil, Prang watercolors and Gouache paints.

From L-R: ‘Alice’, ‘Sakura’, and ‘Snow White’ by Rian Gonzales.

FG: Do you have a mantra or a ritual of sorts before doing your stuff?
RG: I go over to my Artgerm and J. Scott Campbell altar and offer a basket of fruits—oh wow, wait, did I say that out loud? Hahahaha!
Kidding aside, I just make sure I’m armed with references and drawing tools are ready then I’m good to go.

FG: How do you deal with burnouts? I’m sure you get one once in a while given your amount of commissions
RG: I just make sure I squeeze in some personal work time in between commissions. Sometimes I go out, watch a movie with the family or go window shopping, gorge up on cute looking shrimp dumplings and look at amazing art then It’s all good.

FG: Cool. Let’s delve further with your work, shall we? Most can say that you’re becoming a fixture in this industry, gaining a steady following and what not. How does it feel getting a solid footing in this field?
RG: It’s insane. I still cant quite wrap my head around the idea that there are people who follow my craft and it’s the best thing ever. The support is overwhelming and it keeps me motivated to go further and push my limits. I’m still new to the industry and I’m just thankful for every opportunity that comes my way. I feel that I am given more than what I truly deserve and that’s humbling.

FG: That’s good to know. Another thing worth mentioning is your Lady Death gig. It’s cool knowing that you’re one of the 50 commissioned for a blank cover sketch of the aforementioned character(alongside Jimmy Palmiotti, Todd McFarlane, and even Leinil Yu to name a few). Can you tell us the story behind it?
RG:It came out of nowhere! Sir Eddie Rausch of Vet Tix foundation messaged me up here about the details of the project and my initial reaction was “uhmmmm sir, are you sure you’re sending this to Rian? Rian Gonzales? Me? Maybe you have mistaken me for someone else?” ahaha and I’m pretty happy that he did want it sent to me and I’m grateful to be a part of such a lineup. I’m just not worthy! *kneels**worships* hahaha!

Rian’s ‘Lady Death’ Sketch, In Progress.

FG: You are worthy for that, trust us. Was it done already by the way?
RG: Just finished sketching it and on the process of coloring it.

FG: Nice! In addition to that, you also recently won in a tilt for 1975’s Manila tour. Your poster was nicely done. Definitely fits the band. Can you share some tidbits about it?
RG: Oh, hey. Thank you so much! Haha! Didn’t know how I actually got to squeeze that in my schedule! I knew about the contest via my friend, Ika, for almost 2 weeks already then. I just thought “hey, why not give it a shot?” So I sketched something up and did some layout and  voilà! It was one of the few illustrated band poster entries then (since most submissions were done digitally) and I wasnt expecting anything since the leading entry had 5 times more votes than my work. Just imagine the shock i got when they chose my design instead! It was really a happy surprise.

FG: Yeah, we saw the votes. We’re glad you made it because your entry sure stood out! Now, one may wonder if someone like you will be doing a comic book someday(apart from covers). Would it be sooner than we expect?
RG: Definitely would love to work on one if time permits. Its one of the things I would like to cross out soon from the bucket list!

FG: We’ll look forward to it then! Now, let’s veer away from comics and talk about something else. Like music. You did a couple of covers back then under the @clangalang pseudonym! Is your love for music something you inherited, or otherwise?
RG: Matagal ng laos si Clangalang. Haha!(Clangalang’s already a thing of the past. Haha!) Well besides my self enthusiasm over music, I guess it’s something I inherited as well. My great granfather was a known violin maker and my dad also used to play for a band way back. He introduced me to all the basic stuff in guitar playing like chords and strumming and I self-studied most of the time. I used to write songs for our school back in highschool. Music is a nice escape from work and stuff as well.

Rian Gonzales’ poster for 1975’s Ayala Malls tour.

FG: Wow. Awesome. What if someone like Ryan Cayabyab passes by while you’re singing and tags you in as the next star. Will you grab the opportunity?
RG:Ill have to make sure that I’m not going into sugar rush trance first before I wrap my head around the fact that Ryan Cayabyab just noticed that I exist, then we’ll talk. Haha!

FG: There was also this Ask.fm account of yours, which often gets strange questions each day. How do you handle all these?
RG: I set up an Ask.fm account to compile all the frequently asked art questions but as time passes, I get weirder questions which does not even involve art. Haha! It’s crazy but I just try to take everything with a grain of salt. Answer some of the more entertaining ones with a punchline or a joke haha!

FG: True. Alright, let’s wrap it up! Any projects you’d like to tease? Got a message for aspiring artists out there?
RG: Besides sketch cards and CGC sketch opps thing and the Lady Death project, Im pretty much an open book but definitely giving some much need time for personal projects such as making my own comic to beef up the folio. (And yep, my folio needs some beefing up as well as it is a dominantly feminine one), haha!

For the message, I would say, just keep practicing. I know it sounds cliche but learning never stops. As much as one enjoys praises and success, an artist must keep their ears, minds, and hearts to critiques and improvement notes from other artists. Keep inspiring people close and just have loads of fun doing your work. If all else fails, eat chocolate. Chocolate patches everything up.


You can check Rian’s other works by visiting her DeviantArt profile! Here’s the link.

Yuri Mangahas

Yuri is magnanimously juggling between two managerial jobs: A technical manager position for an advertising/copy-writing company, and an associate editorial position for a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Nevertheless, he still finds time taking photos and seeking for geek nirvana.