Tampa Review Online: How long have you been a working artist? What caused you to move in this direction?
Jon Rodriguez: I’ve been a working artist for about seven years now. Classic Disney animation, comic books, and films were a huge inspiration for me growing up.
TROn: I know you are an Art Director at Dunn&Co. What’s that like? And do you feel it has influenced your fine art process in any way?
JR: Working for Dunn&Co. is a great experience. I enjoy the process of conceptualizing and executing ad campaigns in a collaborative environment, and being surrounded by talented people. I feel that working in the advertising industry helps me as a creative on multiple levels. Advertising has a story element that strives to connect people on a personal level through various forms of mediums. Connecting to one another is a powerful human desire. I’m grateful that I create connections for a living.
TROn: How would you describe your studio process? What are your rituals?
JR: I usually start with a basic idea and try to break down the meaning to its core. After deconstructing my concept, I try to think of new ways to experience it—a different point of view that’s refreshing and unique. Concept dictates design. When I’m happy with the main idea, I use its concept as a roadmap to the final design. This process is always different, but I try to work within these parameters.
TROn: Jon, in regards to fine art, you have been working in the same style for quite a while now, using characters that are all seemingly tragic. Can you give us a little insight into how these characters evolved and also how they connect to you personally?
JR: Since these characters reflect different attributes of myself, they are evolving with me constantly. Each character has their own distinct traits that reflect different aspects that mirror where I’m currently at in life. Some are hopeful and some are tragic. These characters act as a way to share a deep truth about myself, in hopes of helping people see a truth in them.
TROn: You’ve told me that Edward Gorey had a big influence on you. What would you say are your other influences?
JR: Other influences include shamanism, eastern philosophy, symbolism, and ice cream.
TROn: Which is your personal favorite piece?
JR: My favorite piece is “The Sleepy Slave.” It’s one of the largest pieces I’ve made and the most time-consuming. I worked on it continuously for over a month and put a lot of sweat into it.
TROn: What if our viewers want more of Jon Rodriguez? Where can they find your work?
JR: They can see my work at jon-rodriguez.com.
Jon Rodriguez is an art director, graphic designer, and illustrator living and working in the Tampa Bay area. He’s been an artist for most of his life and has exhibited in galleries across the U.S. He has also worked on campaigns for local businesses, as well as large brands, and everything in between. Some of his experience includes Toyota, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tampa Bay Lightning, Shoe Carnival, Buffalo Wild Wings, Costa Rica Tourism, and Baskin Robbins. He strives to be highly conceptual and produce eye-catching visuals that will capture the attention of all audiences.
Andi Tomassi graduated from the University of South Florida with a dual-major BA in Visual & Performing Arts and Art Education. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Tampa.