We had the good fortune of connecting with Hector Hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hector, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Well, I began to draw at an early age by copying my older brother, and thought drawing my favorite cartoon, comic, and video game characters was cool! Since then, I kept learning about different subjects that interested me, as I continuously drew in my free time, and known as the kid that draws was a plus! So I just stuck to thinking about ways to continue to be an artistic and visual person throughout my life. As I matured and finished university, I also noticed and took pride in seeing an artistic/creative career as merging my love of learning and education with my love of play and working with your hands. So I see my artistic work as a way to appreciate and show respect to the manual jobs my parents (and so many other people) work in, while continuing to learn new things and refine my craft, and share/teach that knowledge with others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Looking back on my work over the years, I find that a lot of my work and practice is rooted in the process of creating the work. It’s a way for me to stay connected to manual labor and having a dialogue between the crafts inherent in art making and the more open-ended ideas and themes in the works. I see my art as mixing and balancing multiple ideas and finding connections between them, while adding some humor into the mix. More recently, I’ve noticed my work turning more introspective – depicting myself or using aspects of my cultural upbringing in the work as a way to become vulnerable as I dealt with life issues/changes in hopes of showing people how art can be used, along with writing and other art forms, to cope and work through issues. It hasn’t been easy getting to where I am, though. There’s been lots of life challenges since grad school and having an artistic practice to fall back on helped process those difficult times. But, the hardships did teach me valuable life lessons and perspectives that have helped clarify what I want my artistic career to be – one filled with play, learning, and community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There’d be lots of eating, that’s for sure. I’d take them to a mix of some of my favorite food spots, such as; King Mediterrano in Torrance, LA Ale Works in Hawthorne, Coffee Connection in Mar Vista, and some late-nite food truck spots around the city (which is hard to find a “bad” one). Other than food, they have to check out the Getty, Huntington Library, The Broad, MOLAA, and LACMA (once its fully open again). And after those Art & culture spots, gotta get more food in DTLA’s Grand Central Market, and while in the area we can stop by the Walt Disney Concert Hall and then walk over to Self-Help Graphics in Boyle Heights, and to help walk some of the food off. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There’s so many people I’m grateful for… My parents, first of all, for teaching myself and my siblings how to be good people and for tolerating my artistic interests, even when they didn’t really understand it. My brother, Frank, for being the inspiration that got me started drawing and making art so many years ago. My sister, Maricruz, who keeps me from getting a big head and lightens the mood with her humor. Plus, all of the friends and acquaintances I’ve made throughout my education and career so far! Some of the ones who continue to support and challenge me creatively being Jennifer Hobson, Michael Hubbard, Manny Luis, Aneesa Shami & Grant Zizzo from Studio 203, Stephanie Sherwood, the staff and students at 826LA, Danielle Perez, and Kim Camacho to name a few. And I hope there are many more people in the future. As for books, there’s Art & Fear, which is a nice small book about how to overcome the fear and self-doubt that many artists face regularly. It’s a good little book to carry around and reread from time to time.
Portrait photo by Ruth Yasharpour Last two photos by Aneesa Shami at Studio 203