About Dave Gonzales
About the Homies
About the Mijos
About the HoodRats
New Homies Art

Dave Gonzales
Homies Shop
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Gonzales Graphics is a pioneer business in the Lowrider market. Recognized for his Aztec images and Homies line of T-shirts, David Gonzales is a real success story in the graphic arts. His career spans 20 years and several publications, including Lowrider Arte's predecessor, Arte del Barrio. We were fortunate enough to talk to him about what it takes to make it as an artist in today's market.

"I've been drawing for as long as I can remember,"says the Richmond, California native. David was lucky enough to have teachers and parents who recognized his talent and encouraged him to pursue it. After taking cartooning and airbrushing in high school, he enrolled in the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He went on to San Jose State for a degree in Graphic Design and Commercial Art, hustling his way through with pinstriping, flyers, and murals for area car clubs. His involvement with the cruising scene led him to Five Star Productions, where he became the staff artist for Lowrider Happenings Magazine. That's where Sonny Madrid, original publisher of Lowrider Magazine, found him.

"Davie was into Frank Frazetta and all that fantasy art, which was really cool," says Sonny. But it was David's bread and butter, a comic strip called Chico Loco, that really caught Sonny's eye. After a power lunch over margaritas and burritos at Antuna's where they discussed Chicano political and cultural art, "Homies" was born. "Sonny let me do what I wanted, " Dave remembers. "Without censorship, we could get away with all kinds of things you couldn't do today." The adventures of Hollywood, Pelon, Raton and all their friends soon became one of LRM's most popular features. They began traveling to California lowriding hot spots ( and large LRM markets ): Story and King Boulevards in San Jose, Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles, and the Mission District in San Francisco. David's work also graced the cover of Arte de Barrio as well as three well-known centerfolds, the first of which, Bustin Loose, taught David a valuable lesson.

" A T-shirt company stole the image and used it on their product," he explains. To add insult to injury, the shirt was even advertised in LRM. "If you go to college for a degree in art," he advises, "try to at least minor in business. Learn to protect yourself and your art." That's not the only lesson David has learned in the course of his two decade career. "Too many Chicano artists get caught up drawing just cars and women," he laughs, noting that this was what paid his bills for many years. "You need to do 'life studies,' landscapes, still lifes, and people. Learn every technique, oil paints, watercolors, whatever. Don't limit yourself to pen and ink; there aren't many jobs in that." "What we don't need are thousands of Chicanos making the same type of art. The lowrider market is becoming saturated - it's great now, but what about two years from now? More Chicanos need to be represented in fields like industrial design, technical design, computer graphics, even the fine arts." There are more role models than ever for Chicano artists to look up to, so why limit yourself? David found inspiration in the work of lowrider artists like Mike Pickle, Teen Angel, even Easy Rider's Dave Mann. But he also looked to the fantastic work of Frank Frazetta, and trained with "the godfather of Chicano silk-screening," UC Davis Chicano art professor Malaquias Montoya. " My real inspiration, however, was four years spent working in the Chicano community, being engulfed in barrio culture," he adds. The result has been fulfilling and profitable, but not without pitfalls. " I sometimes get a negative response, being a Chicano businessman," David admits. His work, because of its OG flavor, has been criticized as gang-related in certain markets. He had to learn to market his art in unconventional ways, at gas stations and taco stands. He's also learned to "censor himself," staying away from drug related and violent imagery. After he learned that a group of MEChistA mujeres burned some of his "Classic Body" line T-Shirts featuring women in suggestive posses, he discontinued the line completely. " I used to be in MEChistA myself, and I respect their views. Some things are more important than money." His willingness to change hasn't hurt his success - his business grows each year, selling thousands of shirts and introducing new designs regularly. "We've gone from Jose's Burrito Wagon to JCPenney, and it just keeps getting bigger," says David. He continues to expand his horizons, winning prestigious awards in the fine arts. But "Homies" is where his heart is. "Over the years in music, art and especially cars, Chicanos are defining their own style, different from the Latino and Mexican flavors. My art is part of it," he says proudly. "It is unique to us, something we created, that is respected throughout the world. We sell shirts to Japan, Canada, all over the world. It's amazing how far it's gone from Aztian."
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