Monique Munoz is an up and coming artist out of Toronto, Canada that is creating magnificent psychedelic art. Influenced by artists like Hayao Miyazaki, Alex Grey, and Japanese Role Playing Games, Monique is creating a more Eastern (almost minimalist feel when viewed side by side with some of her contemporaries) standard here in the Western world.
With many digital artists gravitating towards more realistic pieces, it is quite refreshing to see an artist produce works that are unflinchingly whimsical and upbeat. With such an eye for color, it is no wonder that Monique's work has captured the eye of gallery owners and clothing distributors. Marvelous messages about childhood, compassion, and positivity are prevalent themes throughout her work and it's wonderful to see that she is beginning to make waves with her art.
Prox: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, how has this area affected your philosophy on life, and how long have you been creating art?
Monique: I’m from Toronto, Canada. I was born there, but raised outside the city. I would always hang out in Toronto whenever I could as a teenager though. I truly love my hometown. Toronto is so multicultural and diverse that I was exposed to so many different cultures when I was young. I am mixed myself; My father is Mexican and my mother was born in Quebec, from a French and Italian parent. The city felt like home since I was accepted no matter what my background was. I found myself with a diverse group of friends and an urge to keep exploring and traveling within my life.
I guess my philosophy is be kind to others even if they are different from you. You can learn so much from others. I myself, am a very curious individual and I constantly want to see and learn more. I accept that there is always more to learn, even when it comes to my art. I have been drawing ever since I can remember. I started with colouring books but quickly started doodling on my own. It was mostly ‘fan art’ so i'd draw characters from stories I liked. As I grew older, I started drawing from personal inspiration. My fan art is still very special to me because I drew characters I felt connected to. In the end, I would put a piece of myself in those drawings too.
Prox: Was there any one instance that you can directly attribute to your decision to become an artist?
Monique: I just sort of knew when I was a kid. I felt this compelling urge to draw and I realized that most of the kids in my class didn’t have that. I would constantly draw in the back of my classroom and I was happiest doing this.
Prox: Who are some artists (Artistic, Musical, etc) that have had an impact on your work?
Monique: When I was in high school, I was really into manga and video games. I just felt a connection to the stories; They made me laugh, cry, and I fell in love with all the new worlds. I liked the "Tales of" and "Final Fantasy" series a lot.
Musical artists such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers also inspired me. I really love poetic lyrics and a funky melody. I could just listen to music for hours, close my eyes, and let my imagination run wild. All of these artists have impacted my work because they helped me to create my own stories and connect with my feelings through their art.
Prox: How did you settle on your style? Are you a fan of Japanese anime or any other types of animation?
Monique: I guess it was just growing as an artist. I played around with many different styles in my teenage years. I started by almost ‘copying’ other styles that I liked, but then when I went to college for Visual Arts, I was encouraged to branch out and try different styles and mediums. I had one professor, Diana Meredith, that really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, which was very cartoony and anime-esque at the time. She would critique me and at first, I was hesitant to change the style that I was so comfortable with. As I got more assignments that required me to create things differently, I started enjoying seeing my pieces change. There was a specific surrealist assignment that made me manipulate objects in Photoshop and It really got me interested in trying more abstract ideas and incorporating stranger concepts into my personal artwork.
I am a fan of Japanese art and animation! I guess it’s pretty obvious (Ha ha!). I just loved to see something new when I younger. I thought that the Japanese style was unique and I was fascinated with the culture itself. I still have not traveled to Japan, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.
Prox: With so many artists opting to create hyper-realistic images, why did you choose to draw more whimsical pieces? Was this because so many artists are creating the former?
Monique: I suppose I never really gravitated towards realism, but now I am not opposed to trying it myself! I think it would definitely take a lot of practice to change my style again (as I do enjoy the kind of cartoony children’s book feel that my artwork has), but it might change in the future! Who knows!
I also don’t really think I decided to stick with a style…I think it just worked for me and felt right. I think there’s a moment where you say, “I like this, and it’s what I want to convey to the world” and you stick with it. As we all get older our perspective changes, and so do we.
Prox: The coloring in your pieces is astounding. How long does this process take? What dictates how an image will be colored?
Monique: Thank you very much! It usually takes 1-2 weeks for the whole process (that includes thinking of what to draw, sketching, and then starting to colour) but some of my pieces have taken longer. As for colours, it’s kind of strange. Sometimes, I’ll have a clear idea of what palette I want to use. Those images are finished much faster! I know what I want and I go for it (ha ha)! Other times, I’ll try a bunch of colours until I think it looks right or scrap it all together and start with different colours. The beauty of digital art is that you get so many choices and you easily change it if it doesn't work. I decide based on what feelings I want to portray. For calm atmospheres, I love to use blues and purple (which are my favourite!!!) and for more powerful images, I love red and orange. Most times, I just want all the colours because like emotions, they are all beautiful in their own way.
Prox: Have any aspects of the counter-culture movement (Drugs, Bohemianism, etc) had an influence on your life and work?
Monique: Yes, definitely. I’m always trying to push the boundaries of knowledge, art, and self-growth. Psychedelics gave me the opportunity to explore my inner consciousness. I’ve been through the greatest nightmares, the most blissful peace, and shown incredible things about life and who we are as human beings. It’s very intense for me, so I use psychedelics as a powerful tool and medicine. I still don’t quite comprehend everything that I have felt and seen, but I’m grateful for the experience. Understanding that I don’t know everything made me very humble and compassionate towards all living beings.
All of these had a profound influence on me and it is very apparent in my work. I gravitated towards working on my creativity, my art, and how it can affect people.
Prox: What are some your favorite pieces from your catalogue? Are there any projects that are more personal or rewarding?
Monique: Umm…(ha ha) this is always a hard question to answer. I think the one that stands out for me is “We are the Lotus Kids”. This piece was completely personal. It was more about the message that I tried to convey and I was happy with the result! It is about how we can always keep growing while remaining compassionate and humble. I find we naturally have this ability as children, but forget as we grow older.
Prox: What are some things that you continue to learn as an artist? Does it ever get any easier to bring ideas to life?
Monique: I am continuously trying new techniques when I create. I’m always looking to create new textures and patterns for example. I’m also learning new things in life everyday, so I try to incorporate that into my art.
I feel it’s actually getting more and more difficult to bring ideas to life because I’m currently working while doing my art on the side. I’m getting more hours at work so there’s less time to draw. I’m trying really hard to change this because I really want to have a career where I could draw all day!
Prox: Up until this point, what would you say is your biggest accomplishment as an artist?
Monique: I think it would be having clothing up for sale and having galleries in Toronto. I never thought I’d be able to accomplish this! Having my art sold around the world is truly what I’ve always wanted. How awesome is that?!
Prox: Could you give us some information on any upcoming projects or business opportunities that you have lined up?
Monique: I will be releasing new accessories that has my art imprinted on them (like yoga mats)! I’m also designing dresses with Threyda.
Other than that, I will have more personal artworks coming out. I’m hoping one day to have my own studio so I can focus on my art more.
Prox: Who are some your favorite contemporary artists?
Monique: I have always loved Alex Grey and Hayao Miyazaki! They’re both so creative and have such beautiful messages in their pieces.
Recently, I’ve discovered Android Jones and I was completely inspired by his digital work! His technique is like no other; I’d love to learn more about the digital painter world now.
Prox: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Monique: On the side, I use to make costumes and wear them. Now I don’t have enough time or money to continue this hobby. It was fun and extremely creative! Many times I found myself having to find ordinary house objects and turn them into something else for my costumes. There was a lot of problem solving involved and I also had to learn how to sew, which is super useful!
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Monique: It might sound cliché, but please keep practicing! Even when are going through a doubtful period in your life or you're in an artist block, keep going! You’ll make it out and you’ll be glad you continued to put your creative skills to work.
Also, don’t feel bad for your skill levels being under par, all artist including professionals are still growing. I’ve seen so many younger artists telling themselves that they’re not good yet and it’s heart breaking. I was like that as well; I wish I could tell my younger self to not be so hard on myself.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Monique: Thank you very much for the interview. I’m always flattered when others want to know more about me and my work!
Love and Peace!
You learn more about Monique and purchase her work, here.