Godriguez and I have a chat about the value of open edition prints, NFTs, and blurring the lines between photography and painting.
- Music by Old Romans: https://www.instagram.com/old_romans
You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:
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A Conversation with Godriguez
Chain Assembly: So I have a really special treat today on the podcast. We have Godriguez. Godriguez is an incredible, I guess, digital photographer, scene painter, world builder. If you've seen his work, you'll know how gorgeous it is and how hard it is to describe. So thank you for joining me, Godriguez.
Godriguez: Thank you. Thank you for that gracious gracious interview or introduction there.
CA: So I know I have more recently been meeting you at the TBSOPA meetings. That's the Tampa Bay Society of Photographic Arts, which is headed up by Jose Gomez, who is on a recent episode. But I've ran into you at a few other events around town. I think probably the first one was the Project Dark Arts 2, I wanna say, was the first time I ever ran into you. Or at least, I don't know if I actually met you back then, but I saw you in like, I wanna say you were involved in that intro video, or like the video of, yeah, tell me about that.
G: I was the devil. Yeah. I am the devil, but if you've ever seen any of my imagery, but yeah, I was asked to be in the intro for or the teaser video for the show. And we shot it over at the spook-easy of the old location up in Ybor. And it was just a lot of fun getting to dress up and be a part of that. So yeah, that was a lot of fun.
CA: So I assume you had some pieces in that show. I think I remember seeing some of your stuff up there, right?
G: Yeah, I definitely had. Trying to think of what pieces I had in there. I think I had about four or five pieces in that was also part of the first year of Project Dark Arts that was over at FMOPA. And those are really great events. Hoping Rogue has been hinting, teasing that he might bring them back and I really hope he does because they were a lot of fun and a lot of really great artists and performers and it was just really good night out both times, both years they did it in shadow, putting that together, and that was just a lot of fun. So I hope they do it again in the future.
CA: Yeah, it was pretty cool. I really loved the whole feel that it was like a French salon with just stacks and stacks of art on the wall. It really made it fun to pick out stuff like you're hunting for pieces. It was really cool. So let's talk a bit about your style. It starts with digital photography. Sorry, I don't know if it's digital. It starts with photography, and then you manipulate the pieces from then on. So can you kind of tell me about how you got into that process on manipulating the pictures?
G: Yeah, I mean, I've been using Photoshop since 96. In fact, I bought my first computer back then specifically to learn Photoshop and Illustrator. Like that was why I bought a computer. I had never owned one before then and just started teaching myself how to use it and how to play around in Photoshop. And for the longest time, I would just use stock images. And when I went to art school up in Atlanta, I'd use stock images and stuff for my projects. And then right around, I always jokingly say I got into photography for the ladies, because I bought my first camera when my daughters were born. So I started taking pictures of them. Constantly, you know, thousands, thousands of pictures. So slowly I started to actually, you know, start taking my own photos and then starting to use them in my, my pieces. And slowly it, it became, um, apparent that I was enjoying what I was doing with it and right around that time I got involved with a G plus, which is no longer around, but it was an amazing actual platform. A lot of people dogged it, but I met lifelong friends on there and really actually grew as an artist on there and learned kind of how to utilize my imagery to tell stories, which was something I kind of learned in art school with critical thinking classes. Like that's one of my favorite classes and it just made me think outside the box. And so when I started doing the photography, I started doing self portraiture and then fine figuring out, well, I can, you know, use what I can do in Photoshop to tell the story even further. So a lot of my process is, you know, well, first off it is mostly self portraiture, I'd say 90% of what I shoot is, is self portraiture. And mostly cause a lot of my ideas come late at night and I don't have anyone else around. So I'm the only model. So a lot of times that was out of necessity, but, um, it, it allows me also to, to take the time to really kind of do what I want to do and tell the story. Cause I can shoot multiple pieces of it and then put it together later. And, um, so I really actually enjoy that part of the process is getting an idea in my head and then visualizing it and then attacking it in different pieces. Cause especially when you're doing self portraiture, you know, one thing is to think of yourself and you know, how you're gonna position yourself. But then sometimes it's multiplicity where I am multiple times in the image, the final image. So, you know, trying to figure out where angles and shadows and things like that have to be, camera angles and all that, and just kind of pulling all that together and then jumping into Photoshop once I have everything shot and putting it all together to kind of tell that final story. So it is sometimes a drawn out process and can take hours of editing, but it's worth it to me.
CA: For lack of a better term, as someone who sells art, were you using mediums before you got into the photography as a seller of art?
G: Sort of. My degree is in graphic design, but even if you want to go back further than that, um, back when I was in high school and in bands, I was the one that always did the band's logos and did all the flyers and stuff like that. So I've kind of always been doing art, um, in one facet or another. And then, uh, actually I, I always said, if I don't become a rock star, I'm going to lean on my art career and that's kind of what I did. I was, I was, uh, I was probably late twenties and I realize, you know, that, okay, not gonna be a rock star. So made the call and discussed it with my wife and she and I and we moved up to Atlanta and I went to art school up there to for art. And like I said, I did my degrees in graphic design. So coming out of art school, I was doing logo designs and things like that. I was doing page layout for companies and in around the Tampa Bay area and Orlando and um, but also doing animation work. So, and actually I've been, uh, doing animation work for a nonprofit called why you for actually is probably going on 25 years now. So I jokingly call myself an accidental animator because I, I took animation in my, um, my senior year as an elective. And I really enjoyed it and actually created this character that became my senior project. So everything was built around this cartoon character that I built and created in my animation class. So everything that was my senior project was all these different aspects of this character and different things that went along with it. CD packaging and all that. So, so that's those kind of things of what I was doing up till I'm I moved back to Florida and started becoming an animator. And I've been, like I said, that's sort of my nine to five is my animation that I do. And it's math animation, which is funny because I suck at math. But I don't write the scripts, so I just animate them. So it's just what I do. And I love doing it because it's all nonprofit kind of call us co-collaborators. He is a, Steve Goldman lives over in Orlando. So he and I have been collaborating on this for, like I said, for probably over 25 years now. He writes the scripts, gives them to me. I then do the voice of the character and also, and then animate to that. So I've been doing art in one facet or another for probably the last 30 years either logo designs or page layout or, um, I also, while I was actually doing the YU stuff, I was also working at the Orlando science center doing, um, exhibit design and, and fabrication and, you know, designing layouts of how, uh, exhibits would happen signage for that, how, you know, pieces would look in the, in the exhibit stuff like that. So a lot of different artistic endeavors.
CA: Okay. I mean, that kind of helps informed where you've ended up now then for sure. So at what point would you say the Godriguez brand was born?
G: Uh, that going back to the G plus sort of days I had, um, I had become part of a group called, uh, it was called selfie Sunday. And that's kind of how I started doing self portraiture was sort of through, um, was through this group and it was a lot of like-minded people and very supportive, there was no pressure. Um, and we all sort of grew together. And people started seeing, you know, kind of what I do with my photography and the surreal nature of, you know, making things just look real, but yet there could not be real, you know, completely, um, you know, Photoshop editing to its, its fullest. And it kind of the, the name Godriguez kind of came about in a Facebook post. I was going back and forth with a friend and, um, can't quite remember the back and forth, but she basically said, said something to the fact that I can make you, I can basically make you look slimmer and, and you could go on a diet, you know, just let God Rodriguez, you know, take over. And I kind of answered back with, I'm not a god, but I play one in Photoshop. So, um, it kind of, that kind of stuck and then people started calling me that and, um, it just sort of stuck and, uh, But it works in with my sort of whole persona, the devil persona that is another story unto itself, how that all works together actually as well.
CA: So if we're looking at as a brand and you decided, all right, I'm going to start making art under the name Godrieguez, were there, like when you made that decision, were there initial steps you took? I assume like buying a domain, getting an LLC- I guess what were the logistics to that to that birth? I started that.
G: I think I sort of became a corporation LLC probably about 15 about 15 years ago when I I moved back to Tampa was kind of working freelance for a little while and decided that that's that was the path I was going to take was full on freelance even though I was still kind of working along with the animation stuff, but it kind of had a little, there was a little break in there in between what we were initially doing and what we're currently doing. And during that time, that's when I made the decision that this is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. And that I want to be, you know, start branding myself, my, my actual company name or my sort of my blanket or umbrella a company is eclectic anima, which means a very diverse, creative spirit. So, um, that is, that is my actual company, um, name. And then of course the Rodriguez kind of came into play and, um, at doing, you know, DBA with, with God Rodriguez and the logo and all that just sort of kind of started falling into place. Um, and just kind of It kind of fit the style of what I was doing. It's easy to remember. It's all the imagery, you know, kind of works together with it. And like I said, it works along with the darker nature of my art. I'm dark, but I'm not. I call my I say that the style, my style of art is has what's called approachable darkness because it is dark at times, but I never do anything for shock value. There's always a reason for something to be there that is possibly disturbing in some way, um, be it blood or, um, you know, I, I even do some kind of controversial things with depression and suicide and things like that. So, but I try and do it in a way that I won't isolate anybody that might walk up and see my art. Like even one of my more known pieces is a piece that has a, a clown sitting on the ground and he's shooting himself in the head, but instead of it being visceral and realistic, he's holding like a toy gun that a clown would have instead of a bullet, there's the flag that comes out of a, you know, cartoon gun says, bang coming out against his head. And instead of blood coming out of his head, it's a multitude of colors. Cause he has like a rainbow wig on and a rainbow sort of, you know, kind of clown outfit on. So it, it makes people kind of at first maybe start to step back, but then they kind of come back into it and look at it a second time, and then they start seeing what I'm really trying to say in the piece and what it really is representing. So even people I say they're terrified of clowns have been able to relate to that piece. So that's saying something.
CA: Well, let's talk a bit about what you present as an artist because similar to you, I also, I mean, I work as a digital artist primarily. So I don't really have the idea of an original that I can sell when it comes to a piece. It's almost always gonna be a print. Are you doing digital photography or dark room? I guess it would be digital if it's going into Photoshop. There's no point in doing like film photography, right?
G: Yeah, I'm 100% digital in that regard. I never, I mean, I had like a, you know, click, you know, cheapo film camera way, way back in the day, but not that I could ever call myself a photographer. In fact, I don't really consider myself a photographer. It just happens to be one of the tools that I use. Uh, just, I, I just consider myself an artist with a lot of, a lot of interests and a lot of tools at, I have at my disposal or, or try and have, you know, to use. And I, you know, depending on what, what they are, they're going to facilitate the end goal of whatever story or whatever I'm trying to, to, to portray. So, um, yeah, I do use a camera, but I'm not, I don't consider myself a photographer per se. So when, when the whole debate, Oh, well you use Photoshop. You're not a photographer. I say, I don't care. I don't care if I'm not a photographer. That's not my end goal is to be called a photographer. So, and that's the other reason why a lot of times I are really have never, um, other than a few times ever even entered any kind of competitions or anything like that, cause I just, I do it cause I like to do it. I don't need validation. I do it cause. I want. I want to impress myself. And if I impress myself, then that's, I've accomplished my goal. And then if other people like it, or if other people want to buy it, then so be it. You know, that's, that's awesome. And I, I always appreciate when people do appreciate or, or find a connection with my art, but that's, that's not my end goal when I'm creating, uh, especially my photography pieces, um, there, a lot of times they might be personal pieces that I just want to, you know, just flush out, or they like, again, like I said, it might be commentary on something that I've read or seen and just trying to work those things out and, and just kind of have a dialogue there that is, you know, kind of inherent in my work and storytelling. That's, that's the part that I really enjoyed about creating is storytelling. Even with my physical pieces, sometimes there is a storytelling aspect to it, but I just I love the whole idea of storytelling and being able to portray that. I totally get what you're saying. Like it's you have an envision, you envision an image of what the ultimate image is, and you can use whatever tools it takes to get to that ultimate image, whether it be digital painting or photography or a mix thereof.
CA: So when I first started going to those TPSOPA meetings, one thing I found I'm maybe not refreshing, but I was very nervous going into the first meeting. I've never done film photography. I only have one camera. I barely know the difference between an F-stop and an ISO. And it felt really nice to know that everybody else was using Lightroom, too. So I'm like, OK, good. So this isn't a very stodgy group. So that made me feel a bit more comfortable there. I mean, I still have to constantly look at this printout I have to remind me how to get more light in and keep the background blurry. But I mean, so that's just one thing I really liked about that group is that it's a lot more open to using the digital tweaking of photographs in.
G: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Well, and that's what we're about.
CA: Yeah. So when it comes to, I guess, the quote unquote products that are being created by Rodriguez, is it nine times out of 10 a digital print?
G: Uh, if it's going in a gallery, then yeah. So I don't, uh, in that regard, I guess, yeah. I mean, I have to use a, some kind of a print lab to get myself printed. I don't do it myself or any kind of a, you know, any kind of dark room process. It's all, it's all digital from pretty much start to finish. Um, and then, you know, mounting and all that fun stuff. But yeah. Um, when it comes to but even with my physical art, a lot of it, some of it starts off by hand, drawing it out, sketching it out, and then it evolves to the computer and then the finished product may or may not be with the assistance of a tool that's creating it. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. So a little bit, again, a little bit of everything kind of going on there even.
CA: So if you're generally selling prints, are there other income sources for the business, like stock photo licensing or commissions, or is it really just, you know, you create a piece and then sell prints of that piece?
G: I mean, I sold, you know, I have sold prints before. It's not something I push other than in actual gallery shows, like the shows, the TV soap shows that we used to do and I've you know, done some other gallery shows now starting to show over in St. Pete at five deuces and actually have a show coming up next month in or in Lakeland. And so most of the time the end goal is for gallery shows. I'm not even though I do have prints available some on my website, although I've kind of even changed the direction of that and don't really have as much available right now only because I'm still trying to find a vendor that will work through my Squarespace that I like the quality of what they're producing before. I had Smug Mug for years and they use Bayphoto, which I love and always enjoyed and it worked right through their site. Whereas now with, I've switched over to Squarespace to a dedicated, you know, actual website, not so much just photography where I've got other things I can offer. Uh, I haven't quite found a vendor that I can kind of auto facilitate, uh, prints with, so until then I kind of, if someone wants something, I'll make it available to them, uh, or maybe I'll do, you know, I'll order it directly, you know, from, um, Bay photo, just cause that's, I really have always enjoyed their quality and they've done, done me good in the past different orders and gotten things for me when I needed to. So I am not endorsed by Bay photo, but they've done me good. They've got me done.
CA: So I have, um, I've been wanting to work with MPIX, but I've also not wanting to work with them MPI X because they offer white label printing. So you upload the file, they print it, ship it out and put your company name on the return address. So it looks like it came from you. Uh, and I have ordered prints from them and they look great but they refuse to print anything with nudity because they said they're a family-owned Christian business. So I'm pretty sure they won't want to print your stuff.
G: No, well, Bay photo well. Before I bought my own printer,
CA: I was getting everything printed by Shutterfly and I still shout them out. I really love their quality, but I do wish they had some type of dynamic integration with Shopify stores or Squarespace stores or even white labeling. Unfortunately, they don't. So let's say you're making a piece to hang in a gallery. Do you not consider that a print? When you think of a print, are you thinking more of a whole stack of things that customers flip through? Like kind of what?
G: No. Yeah, I would consider that a print. I mean, usually it's a dedicated print that I, depending on the show, if it fits the theme of the show, then. If I don't already have it on hand and you know, from before, then that's something, you know, I'll print specifically for that show. So yeah, I would consider them prints because with digital, everything's a print. There is no original. There is no original unless you buy the NFT, but which I was doing. I was doing NFTs for a little while there. About a year and a half, maybe two years ago. And I actually sold quite a few pieces and was doing actually pretty well with it. And it just got to be a lot to keep up with. Cause you really got to kind of hustle and be there every day, trying to get your art in front of people. And most of it worked through Twitter, believe it or not. Um, some people are familiar with how, um, NFTs work or not, but a lot of the buyers and stuff were based or looking and, and finding people via Twitter X now, whatever it's called. Um, and so, you really had to like kind of be on there all day long when, when a buyer would kind of put out a request for, you know, you know, anybody got something and it, it just got to be a little too much. And I know people, you know, dog it and whatnot, but I actually was doing pretty well with it. Um, it just got to be too much, um, too much, you know, for me to kind of keep up with, but it was a really good community, the artists and what I did like about it especially was it finally kind of gave digital creators, especially visual, you know, graphic or motion graphic, you know, 3D rendered animation that type stuff, or, you know, short films, even things like that. It gave them an avenue to sell that they normally maybe couldn't, you know, a lot of that stuff, you know, most people wouldn't buy it. But I knew quite a few, uh, you know, digital animators of sorts that, you know, did 3d rendering animations and stuff like that, that, you know, bought their first car by selling NFTs bought their first house selling NFTs. So it, it is a real thing, but it is a hustle and you really got to stick with it and it was just something I just kind of. Couldn't keep up with. And I, like I said, I enjoyed doing it. So I can say I tried and I did, like I said, I, I was, I, I was doing well and met some great people over there on it. Um, in the, in the business and you know, people dog it and say, oh, you know, it's, it's money, you know, it's laundering and this and that, well, that's been going on in the art world forever, so it's nothing new. I mean, that's, you know, most, a lot of, you know, galleries and stuff in the world. That's a lot of what they do is, is just that, you know, they hype it up and pump and dump and all that kind of stuff. It's the same thing. So it really is no different just in a different format.
CA: So I turned my first tarot deck into NFTs. Each card is a different NFT. I had them listed on OpenSea, and I just realized I never installed Metamask on my new computer. So it's probably been four months since I locked in to see if anyone had bid on them. But probably not at now point, since the wave's pretty much over. It's funny. So when it comes to doing prints of your more, your very elaborate, well, what would you call them? If not digital photos, would you just call them illustrations?
G: Uh, I mean, it's kind of kind of hard to really say what they are because they are. I mean, they are part parcel photography. They all they all begin as photography. So one way or the other, they are a photograph. But then, you know, there is manipulation in Photoshop with editing, but also even on top of that, I, for the most part do sort of paint or, you know, accentuate things by painting in Photoshop as well. Um, or adding elements that weren't there before, like, um, 90% of the time, if there's blood in one of my photos, it was never there. I painted in after the fact or, um, makeup. I generally shoot, if I'm going to do makeup, a lot of times I'll just shoot with white face makeup and then paint it in afterwards. It is sort of a conglomeration of a lot of different elements. It's almost mixed media if you want to think about it. Digital mixed media, I guess would be a good way to say it. Yeah.
CA: All right. So let's say you have a digital mixed media piece that's going to a gallery. Are you planning on making that a one of one? Do you not limit it? Do you not even worry about that? Do you have a plan for that?
G: Yes and no. I started for a little while doing limited runs. And I kind of didn't like it. Thank you. And I kind of backed away from it. Yeah. Um, I guess originally I didn't, you know, it was, I just put them out there and then I started having people, you know, request, can they be, this be a numbered series, you know, when they went to buy it. And I, so I started, I kind of ebbed into it a little bit in the last couple of shows. I did that and I kind of regretted it in a way because actually there were, you know, multiple people that really wanted certain pieces that I had. And, um, now, what I ended up doing, because I had originally had it as a one of one, is I actually did present them in different ways. So there was a one of one that was a print that was in a standard frame, then one that was a metal print, and then there was one that had a special edition frame that had, well, actually the original one that sold had a special frame that I made that actually had sand inside it. So the image was of myself with an hourglass in front of me. The hourglass is dripping down and almost running out. But at the same time, my face is being half blown away, like my face is dust flying away. And you can see my skull underneath it. So it's kind of a sort of commentary on the dust of time and how things, you know, eventually all turned to dust. And so the first frame that I did, cause it was a surrealist show is I actually thinking of something, you know, what would, what would Dali do? And so, cause I love Dali. So I made a frame that was, I embedded the, the actual print within acrylic. So it was layered it within acrylic, but then inside the frame, it was a shadow box frame, there was actual sand in the frame that you could turn the frame sideways and it would flow back and forth in the frame in front of the piece. So it was as if the sand came out of the picture and fell into the frame. So, um, but then people, more people wanted it. And so I made some other additions that weren't that addition. That one was actually very specific and special, but, um, so I'm, if I do, do limited runs, it would be like that, like very, like each one would stand on its own, even though it's multiples of the same print, they are each one and a limited edition, how they're presented. So if I do go back to doing limited runs, that's how I would approach it. So I guess generally most of the time then you would just call them open additions. Yeah. They were open additions and you know, I, I, that way, you know, it could be in one show and then maybe be another. And that's where I finally, I changed my kind of stance on it because I had some, I had multiple shows actually coming up that overlapped and I had entered the same piece in the multiple shows because it fit the genre of the multiple shows and it got accepted to all the multiple shows. So that's where, that's where it got tricky is like, it's like I had already committed to this piece being in these shows. And I had but I had put it as a limited edition in each show. So that's where I had to get creative and be like, okay, this is a limited edition because there's not going to be another one on metal. There's not going to be another one with this frame. There's not going to be another one this way. So that's how I, you know, actually kind of facilitated being able them still to be limited editions, not be unethical about it.
CA: I was at this presentation a few months ago about how to be a gallerist and an art collector, I guess. And someone had asked about whether or not you should do limited edition prints. And all of the people in the presentation said, absolutely be limited edition. I did not like that. Because now I only have the limited information of my own scope of people I interact with when I'm doing events, but someone who is gonna buy a piece only because it's limited edition doesn't mean they really like the piece. It means they like that it might become valuable at some point. And that's not the audience that gravitates towards my work because the pieces I'm selling are usually a lot cheaper under a hundred dollars for a print. So they're not really buying it because they think it might be a lucrative investment. They're buying it because they want to hang it in their house. So in that regard, I don't really see that as a valuable thing, like adding, like limiting the amount of sales I can make on a piece. If I did that, I would have to sell a piece for like a print for so much. And one thing I'm always saying that I love, one thing I always bring up a lot on this podcast is that I love the idea that as an artist, you can spend five hours on something and sell it a thousand times. You're not going to be able to do that if it's a limited edition. I don't know. All right.
G: I agree. And that's that's kind of how I want to I kind of see it too is I don't I don't really want my art to be limited. I want more. You know, I want people to be able to enjoy it. And if you know, multiple people enjoy it enough that they would want it in their house, then so be it. So that's why I kind of kind of recanted on doing, you know, limited editions per se other than what I talked of earlier is for that reason, that that way, you know, more people can enjoy it. And I'm more about that than exclusivity and trying to be, you know, some pompous, some pompous artists in that way. I don't mind if, you know, if my pieces are in a lot of different locations.
CA: Now, in regards to your online presence, when you're selling things through your site. I see you have merchandise for sale, but then you also have images of your shoots and images of like the sculptures you made and things like that. Do you sell prints through your site or just the, I guess the merchandise section? I don't like, I don't sell yet through my actual website. I had for years a smug mug site that was a just photography only dedicated site and sold quite a few prints through there. Like I said, they, you know, use Bay photo. So I loved it. And if I can find somebody that kind of can give me that quality that I can connect to my Squarespace account, then I will do that. Now what I did do, um, or what I do through my sites is I only sell up to a certain size, even when I had my my smug mug site. And that way the larger prints are the ones that I print for galleries. So when I do gallery shows, so anything up to, I think I had either eight by 10 or maybe it might've been the next size up. Um, I would sell on my website, but then anything bigger, like 16, 20 and above, you would have to basically be in person, you see it in a gallery. So it did, in a way that kind of kept it limited, if you want to think about it, but it wasn't, it wasn't unattainable. So you could still get that print. You know, you could always call up the gallery that it's going to be in and buy it and they could ship it to you even if you couldn't make it to the show. But I, that was, that was one way that I kind of kept the two separate where prints up to a certain size were limited to just the website and then anything bigger were specifically for the gallery. I did have a few times that people made a request to get something larger printed and I did make some exceptions but generally I kept it that format a large format print that you're going to frame and take somewhere in person and try and ship it to somebody. And then same thing, you know, they're going to if someone's buying from your site and having it shipped to them, they probably don't want to pay an extra hundred dollars for shipping because it's going to be in a large unwieldy tube. And they'll pay for frames and stuff also.
CA: Now, with the events that you've been like the markets and things you've been doing a lot more of lately have you noticed better movement of your prints in a physical setting versus an online setting?
G: I mean, I've sold prints at some of the markets. It's not something I push. I have a bin with smaller prints actually, with just eight by tens, pre-matted eight by tens. And I have actually sold a few at the markets, but it's not really my push at the markets, it's more of my physical art that I'm kind of producing as opposed to my digital arts per se.
CA: So speaking of those, like looking at your Pinhead Grogu statuette, for example, is that a 3D model that you printed and got made into like vinyl toys? How is that produced?
G: That particular piece is the only piece that actually I didn't physically model. It is through a artist called hex 3d. And but he licensed it that you can print them yourself and paint them and sell them for whatever you want.
CA: Oh, cool.
G: Through his he has a patreon site that you pay monthly. And if you stay up to date with your you know, patreon, you have full rights. He has 1000s of models and they're just they're all amazing. That's the only one that I print because that one spoke to me. So, um, but everything else on my website, everything else that I sell is a hundred percent stuff that I've created, but he is that Grogu is 3d printed, 3d resin printed, and then all the nails are hand put into his skull. Those are real little nails. And then I hand paint, you know, paint, paint them up and put a little felt on the bottom, package them up nicely. So, um, but my, my Gothic fairy doors. That's something that's my creation, my spines. Um, I've got a new thing coming out, um, that I'm going to be premiering at a Spookala next month that will be, um, inspired by the TV show Wednesday. So I, I, I, I really enjoy, you know, creating a lot of it. Some of it is 3d modeled. Some of it is just hand drawn first, like some of my woodworking stuff. Um, I sketch up and then bring into the computer to create, um, uh, you know, a nice clean version of it that then I can create, uh, either tool paths for my CNC or for my laser cutter and stuff like that. So it's, it's a little bit of the traditional with the digital or, you know, high tech so to speak, but everything gets hand finished. So all the painting, everything gets, gets a personal hand touch, you know, when I'm kind of done with everything. So there's hands in the process. No, I absolutely get that. Like that was the same with me. Like when I was starting, I was like, all right, I'm going to put my art on earrings. I'm going to put it on key chains. I'm going to get wristbands made. And I started to, over the course of it, figure out what worked for me, what didn't work for me, what was worth the effort, what was not worth the effort. Some of these take way more effort than others. So it's a really fun discovery process.
CA: Definitely. And one thing that I struggled with too was having too many different types of things in a booth at a market. Because again, this is something I bring up a lot on this podcast is someone walks into your booth and they want to be able to say what you are and what you do in one sentence so that they can use that as a way to understand everything they're looking at 30 seconds or less, then they're going to leave. Because it's not worth them trying to figure it out. So have, I mean, your stuff that you have is all very thematically aligned. So even though you have necklaces, planters, prints, it all still fits thematically. And it also helps too that you're wearing a costume that kind of helps with the branding. Do you ever get, I guess it's probably a silly question, but do you get confused looks?
G: As people walk in there, I guess you've been doing a lot more things, too Yeah And that's the biggest part of it, you know picking choosing your your audience. I do see people that do markets and stuff and they in some of the like 3d printing groups and things like that that I'm with and they're Bitching and complaining that you know, they don't get sales, but they're doing these little weekend farmers markets Like do you really think they're gonna buy these horror themed pieces at mom and pop farmers market. You know, no. So it's like, you gotta know your audience. And I am very conscious of the events that I have chosen to, you know, vend that. And that's helped me, you know, establish myself, you know, kind of in already kind of in the industry. I've been doing it actually August the tabernacle of oddities was my one year anniversary because the tabernacle the previous year was my first my first market. So so I've only actually been in the market, you know, game so to speak for little over a year. And but I, I mean, after I did that first one, I knew that I wanted to be doing it. And so I started seeking out, you know, what are there? What are other ones like this? And of course, I tried to get into the big oddities market that is coming in November, the one that the traveling one and, um, was not accepted, but, but they, they have such a list of people that are, have done it before. They kind of, they get first, first pick, um, you know, of who, who gets in or who wants to be in it. So, but, um, but with that, they're, have been, you know, numerous other ones that have fit, you know, my genre of in my style of art, there's hauntizaar in St. Pete, there's the punk rock flea market in Lakeland, there have been, you know, the House of Shadows have had some of my pieces at some of their shows, my physical pieces. So knowing your knowing your audience and knowing what to expect when you, you know, have your stuff. That's the biggest part of it. And I, I, the other thing to me is presentation. I mean, that's a big part of what I do is it's, it's representing me. So I know some people are like, you know, they look at my booth and you know, how I've themed it out and stuff and yeah, it was a, I'm not gonna lie. It was a lot of work building the, my, that design and building those pieces and stuff like that, but that is representing me that is my art and everything about it is me so I want it from top to bottom to be represented as such so um right down to like you said what I wear when I'm I'm doing the show I mean it is I look at it as a show it's not just a market or just and I mean and it this goes from the the biggest one I do to down to the smallest one I do I still wear either my suit sometimes I wear the devil horns and the full red sometimes I don't but I'm you know, always wear my my suit I I try and look, you know my my presentable best Because that's that's what I'm representing is me. I am the brand so to speak.
CA: So It's just kind of what I do It's a really interesting point you make that you are the brand I mean, it's definitely the fact that you're in most of the manipulated photos, the digital mixed medias that you're in, that represents you, and then you also selling yourself as the entity that's selling the art. It really adds to all that consistency that gives you the freedom to make 3D printed things and sell it alongside those more expensive photos or manipulated photos.
G: I also kind of have a, you know, a range of prices. You know, I'm not all or nothing also with my booth. So I like to, even though again, everything is like you said, kind of thematically the same, I have something. If you just want to spend five bucks, you can get a pair of zombie hands, or if you want to spend $250, you can buy a Ouija mirror. I mean, so there is a pretty broad range of pricing that through the booth as well. So I don't want to exclude anybody and I don't want to be that, you know, I don't want to be elusive in that way that I want to, I want to be able to have something kind of for everybody if they do happen to step in to my booth.
CA: So thinking about that one year anniversary from the first tabernacle of oddities to the second one, how much growth in sales would you say you experienced like percentage wise?
G: With the first ever nickel. So it was a good show. And I did equally. Actually, I did better this year. Probably I would say I mean, I did probably about 150 percent better this year than that first that first show. And. Just each show I've learned, you know, I've refined kind of my everything about everything I do from the first one, like when I first did the first Tabernacle, even then I knew I wanted to have a presence. So I was very conscious of how I set my stuff up, how I went about it. And granted, I was just using, you know, I had wire racks, you know, that you disassemble like the ones you get at Home Depot or whatever, just those metal wire racks, but I themed them out I draped stuff over them so it didn't look just like, you know, like metal racks and had lighting and candles and stuff like that. So there was a there was an aura about it when you came into my space that this was kind of felt some this was something different. And with each show, I streamlined the process of setting up like the first that first tabernacle. I think it took me four hours or more to set everything up as opposed to this last time, even with bringing everything up, you know, the elevator, cause at the Cuban club, we had to use the elevator, you know, even bringing everything up the elevator, I think I was up and running in less than an hour and a half. So, um, that, those kinds of things I've improved on, which, which helps in a lot of ways, one, it helps your, to me, the, um, your morale. Cause you know, you know that you're going to get things set up easier. I now have a system. Um, both my, my wife helps me out as well in all the shows and we have a system now, so it's like, okay, I'm going to start setting up the racks. I need you to start pulling out this and getting this stage that, that then I can put it on the racks in the way that I'm going to set it up and I know how things are going to be set up. So a lot of that helps in. And like I said, in one you're not exhausted by the time you're done setting up. And two, it, it is improved each time where now I know how to set things up, that I get maximum visibility and I can display a lot of stuff in a, in a still fairly small space and at every level, no matter who's walking up. Like I actually have, I had consideration in my booth for, for people in wheelchairs. That's why I have a lower to all I have lower levels with the same goods on them so that it is at their at a lower level that they can see. And they're at eye level with so a lot of that stuff was very conscious and how I designed it and it helps to me. At least I feel in the visitors experience or you know, how they come into to see it. And it's been a slow growth up tool this first year and I'm even refining it now with Spookala. That's a three day event. So I'm also streamlining my processes of how I create because it takes a long time to create a lot of this, these physical pieces, because, you know, you can only print so fast on a 3d printer or cut on a laser or on my, you know, CNC, so I've gotten better also with how I. project manage and make sure that everything that I'm doing is not time wasted when I'm creating as well so that I'm not losing money by while I'm making things as well. I'm not, you know, spinning my wheels. I could be doing this part of one of the pieces while I'm waiting for this part to be finished. So even streamlining the production has helped me in, you know, have more profit, if you can say in just time that I've saved myself throughout this year.
CA: So, yeah, I track all those same things you've done. I've probably been doing markets for three years now, maybe. I have a spreadsheet where I track what I paid for vending fee, the date, the name of the event, how much I made in cash, how much I made in card, and then I kind of sort them by value of that so that if I ever need to know if I want to do something that I did last year, I could take a look at that and be like, oh, it looks like it wasn't that great not going to worry about it. And since I started doing that, I've been able to really weed out the events that have been, I don't want to say wastes of time, but wastes of time for where my business is now. Because over the last few years, my percentage of income has relied less and less on markets and has relied more on Kickstarter and crowdfunding projects, which has freed me up to focus more on the markets that are guaranteed to be lucrative, like that tabernacle of oddities. And so when you can spend more time focusing on those fewer better markets, you're going to end up showing with a much better presentation. Yeah, no, I absolutely agree with you on on that.
G: And but in that I've gone into some shows and just thought “Oh my God, why did I, why did I agree to this?” This is, you know, some somewhat, you know, and then I get there and I just, I almost sell out. I mean, you just never know. And you never know what is going to sell the things that you think, ah, they're going to, these are things are going to sell so well at one show. They don't. And then the next show, that's all that sells, you know, or, you know, you sell like, I have a, you know, little, these little coffins that I make and they're they've been moderate, you know, sales. I have sold some, but then the last couple of shows, I sold like 10 of them. And, you know, out of nowhere, all of a sudden people were buying them. So it's like, you just, you never know. You know, as much as you can try and strategize it, there's, there just still depends on who walks in front, you know, who happens to be there that day. You just absolutely don't know.
CA: So thinking about all the sales you make in general as an entity. What percentage of them would you say are the manipulated photos that we were talking about at the beginning versus everything else?
G: Pretty much everything else. I mean, you know, my, my animation is without a doubt, that's my salary. I mean, that's I, I didn't, I don't have to do any of this other stuff for I mean, that that is my, my gut store bread. You know, that's, that's what that's my salary. But in going back to, say, digital prints, photography, ask versus my physical stuff, the physical stuff has been way outweighing the what I've made with my photography. I've done some shows this year. I don't do as many gallery shows as I could or, but it just don't have it necessarily a time to shoot. I haven't been able to, because I've been doing so many physical shows, I haven't had time to actually do any photography, but that's changing right now. In fact, behind me, I've got everything set up. I've got, I have to get some photography done because I have three free new images I have to create before and have printed and everything before Friday the 13th on the Superstition show that I'm doing.
CA: Oh, I'll be at that show.
G: Awesome. Yeah, that's going to be fun. I can't wait. But I've got three photos I've got to actually create and get sent to the printer so I can get them back and framed and all that good stuff much more lucrative over the past year than my photography. I have sold, like I said, at some of the shows that I've been a part of, sold quite a few pieces, prints, but definitely the physical stuff is way, way, way outweighed that.
CA: So one thing that I'm constantly struggling with as a quote unquote artist is, do I need the validation of showing in galleries versus the fact that I make no money from showing in galleries. Do you ever kind of feel that push and pull since you're making so much more with the physically printed objects doing these markets and selling online? I mean, I know you still do go into galleries, but because it's not that biggest chunk of your income, do you ever question whether or not it's worth the effort to apply to shows?
G: No, I love doing shows. Thing I love doing the thing I love about doing shows, which is similar with the markets is I love stepping back and seeing people experience my work for the first time and seeing a genuine reaction from them. And it's not about validation. It's just, I love, cause you never know what you're going to get. What were they going to be surprised? Are they going to be appalled? Are they just going to walk past it? So. Actually, that's what I love about shows is that physical sort of being there in its presence, you know, on opening night, especially, and just seeing that and it's, it's, and then, you know, if they dwell, then I'll step up and say, you know, do you have any questions? You know, this is my piece and introduce myself and then see where the dialogue goes from there. And you know, sometimes maybe, oh, no, I just thought it was kind of Nice. Or it could lead to, I mean, there's been, I've sat there and talk, you know, half hour or 45 minutes to somebody about a piece, you know, just their thoughts on it. So you never know what you're going to get. And that's the part that I love about it. It's that, that, that unknown that you get when you put your art out there and see people experience it for the first time. I get that some, you know, with the physical stuff, but definitely the reaction that you see with the prints a lot of times because it does a lot of times catch people off guard, you know, with some of my art that they, they do. You can see, you physically see them kind of, you know, step back a little bit, like, Whoa, you know, what is, what is this? You know, especially if it's in, you know, depending on the setting and, and what's next to it. So I, it, to me, it's, it's worth entering shows. And again, it shows that I feel my art will work with the themes of the show. I don't just enter every single submission, call for submission that's out there. I make sure that I fit the prerequisite of whatever the theme is for the show. I don't wanna just be a gallery whore of sorts and just every submission, like, oh no, let me stick one in, let me put this here, there. So I try and do shows that just like with the markets that would only my artwork would sort of accent and be a part of and make sense being there. So I love physical shows and I never see it as a waste entering gallery shows at all.
CA: Well, you're a lot more successful at it than I am.
G: Even if they sell a piece of cellar or not. Yeah. Even a piece of cellar or not. It doesn't bother me. So it's great if they do, but I don't feel disappointed if they don't.
CA: So like for me, I guess the most I'm going to price, the most I have priced a gallery piece would probably be maybe $300. And that means I have to drive somewhere to drop it off. Then I have to go back to the opening. Then I have to go back and pick it up if it doesn't sell. And if it does sell, I'm still losing maybe 30, 40%, sometimes 50% to the gallery. And in that, you know, in that end, I'm always looking at it as a numbers thing. And I know I shouldn't. I think what I should be doing is if, if I have that much trust in my piece, I should get it printed much larger, make it more of a presentation and then charge even more for it. But then if it still doesn't sell, I've got no place to store it in my house. So that's kind of the, the internal struggle that I'm always dialoguing with myself.
G: And that is that is something that, you know, that you do have to kind of weigh out, you know, and it's, I think it's, it's, uh, up to the individual because yeah, like, especially when I do, you know, shows in St. Pete, you know, it's driving back and forth to St. Pete to get it there, back and forth to St. Pete to pick it up if it doesn't sell and back and forth for the opening. So yeah, that's six trips back and forth across the bay and, and, and then, you know, getting the piece printed, if it isn't already printed, getting it framed. Um, but it's still worth it to me because even, especially on the, you know, the opening nights, you know, I'm, I'm talking to people and if maybe not this time, maybe they'll remember me the next time, or I can talk to them about the other things I do. You know, I also do make this, I make sculpture, I make, you know, other items as well, I've got shows coming up. So it's networking to me also. So to me, it is money well spent because it's still a, a networking opportunity to, to meet people and get them in front of your work and maybe another aspect, maybe not the photography or what, what's in front of them, but it could be somewhere else. And what I have seen sometimes is people that I've met at gallery shows that maybe I didn't talk to about my other stuff then see me at a market show that I'm doing. And they're like, wait, didn't I see your art? You know, so they start getting the correlation that you're, you are kind of all over the place and doing things. So it's just, to me, it's, it's a, a good networking opportunity. And it, it just, not only that, but just the community also, just the, the, being a part of the artistic community in general, either you know, by being at the shows, because a lot of times there's, you know, other artists come even if their pieces aren't in the show and you just, it kind of harkens back to band days, you know, when I used to be in bands and the music scene, you know, you go see other people's bands, you go see other people's art. It's kind of the same thing and you support each other. And it's just that, that's supporting each other of, you know, kind of being a part of it and, you know, you hope that, you know, if they, you see them at your show that they're going to tell people about it. So it, and in fact, you know, I've had other, you know, I have other artists that, you know, promote, you know, the markets and shows that I've had, you know, I see them sharing my posts. So it is about the community also, and just keeping your name out there and just getting it out there.
CA: I think it's a very healthy way to think of it. So is there anyone? I like it Is there anyone that you would say you've been modeling your business after anyone's business like a business mentor business inspiration?
G: Because I I'm so new to this part of it, you know the physical and I really I I kind of lived in a bubble for the longest time even you know going back to the being part of the art community for many years, I kind of lived in my own little bubble of creating and, and wasn't even really putting it wasn't, weren't doing shows and stuff like that. But then, you know, once I actually joined TV, so, but that changed. That's when I started, that was the first time I did gallery shows. And so I've, you know, always, I I'll always kind of, I guess, uh, you know, sort of thank be thankful that that kind of met that group of people and I was brought into that. And the way kind of the way Jose has always kind of approached our art as it should be something that can be respected and not just we're not just a camera club where we are artistic photographers that we enjoy our craft. And so I guess in a way, I really liked the way he had modeled when he really opened house of shadows and stuff like that, the way that it, it had a very kind of common feel to it. You know, there was, there was a continuity to their advertising or the continuity to their, you know, how they promoted things, how they did things, the look of things. So that, and in a, in a local sense, I would say I'm close in regards to how they, he and Annie came about with house of shadows. So, um, on a grander scale, I, I don't, don't know. I really kind of just been doing what I would want to be doing with as far as branding and stuff like that. Um, you know, a lot of it, you know, came about from going to art school for it. So I, I do understand it and I, I understand continuity in how you display things and how you and present things and try and keep it in that regard. So I don't really have one. There might be some out there and I'm just not thinking of it, but a lot of it's just kind of what I learned in art school of how to present yourself and present now the business side of it. That's something that I've learned. I'm learning along the way. And I talk to people that have done shows the markets and stuff like that. So I've gotten some insight from a lot of different vendors. So that's helped, but there isn't a sort of overarching model that I would say I'm emulating in any way.
CA: Well, it looks like you also have your year pretty booked up. You've got seven events before the end of the year. You got Spook-Alla for the listeners. You can see, Godriguez in person at Spookala on October 6th through the 8th. Superstition Gallery Show, that's the one that I'm also gonna be at. I'll be vending there. I sent them a couple of my tarot cards. They haven't responded yet. They want any of them printed to be at the show, but either way, I'll be there vending. And friend of mine is gonna be doing some tarot readings.
G: That's fun. Yeah.
CA: So that is the Superstition show in Lakeland on October, Friday the 13th. Hauntazar you're doing on October 14th. I've done that event twice. It's really fun. And then you've got-
G: I love Hauntazar.
CA: Yeah, you've got Art Crawl Lakeland in November. I'll also be at that one. I love Art Crawl. Chad puts on a great event. Sorry. Yeah, Chad is awesome. I was thinking of the punk rock flea market, but I am also doing Art Crawl. which is put on by Chad's wife, Ellen, who was on episode three of the podcast. The Chastains.
G: Yeah. The Chastains are awesome.
CA: Yeah. They both are awesome.
G: They are. Yeah, I'm looking forward to that. That'll be my first one. So yeah, I'm looking forward to that.
CA: Cool. That art crawl. It's like, as far as art specific events go, that's the best one you could do. And then we've got Atomic Bazaar, you're gonna be doing in Sarasota, November. I did that one last year and then you're in the Dali dozen.
G: Oh, yeah. There you go.
CA: Did that do well for you?
G: Yeah, actually, that was that was another one. You know, I had no expectations and not know going into it. And first day did OK. And then actually, I actually originally hadn't signed up to do the second day. Oh, yeah, that's right. We talked about this day. Yeah, by the end of the day, I was like. You know what? And I was like, I think I want to come. I'm just going to come back tomorrow. Just leave everything set up. And she was like, go for it. So and then I just I did amazing the second day. So yeah, I should have done the same worthwhile decision.
CA: And then you're in the completely different crowd the second day. And then you're in the Dali Dozen on December 6th.
G: Yes, I'm very looking forward to it.
CA: Yeah, I know a few people in my artist organization who've been in that event, they said it's a lot of fun. So that's cool. And then you're rounding out the year with Holizaar, December 16th.
CA: I did that one a couple of years ago too. It's just like haunt as arts. It's a lot of fun. And then if our listeners want to follow you and see your work, you are, your website is www.godriguez.com. On Instagram you are at godriguezart, threads godriguezart, TikTok godriguezart, and Facebook at godriguezart. And that's spelled G-O-D-R-I-G-U-E-Z. Is there anything I missed?
G: Yep. No. Yeah, you pretty much find me everywhere as Godriguez art. I try and make it simple.
CA: Great. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Godriguez, for taking the time to speak with me. I've definitely learned a lot about how to re-evaluate the value of being in a gallery. So I appreciate that.
G: Oh, no. Absolutely. I mean, like I said, community is kind of the biggest part. And that's going back to the TPSOPA. I'm hoping we can kind of get that back going as we had it before, because it was really, really positive force in the, in the community. And, um, we did some outstanding shows and really looking forward to our new, our latest book release and stuff like that. So, um, yeah, just, just the whole Tampa Bay/St. Pete area art scene. Um, you know, there's just so many great artists out there. So it's, it is to me critical to be a part of it and support each other. Too many people sometimes look at it as a competition and it's not, you know, one of us wins, we all win. So that's where you got to look at it. If, if all of our shows are doing well, then that's, that's what we want. So, you know, to, to, to build each other up and, and just, you know, make this scene a force to be reckoned with. Well, on those wonderful notes, um.
CA: Thank you so much again for your time and hope you have a great day.
G: All right. Thanks.
Chain Assembly: Art for profit sake is recorded through Riverside FM, distributed through Spotify for podcasters, and edited on Adobe Audition. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you learned anything useful or found this podcast helpful, please rate and review us five stars. If you want to learn more about me or my art, head over to ChainAssembly.com.