As Texas transplants, we are overly ecstatic to feature the beautifully twisted vision from Houston-based artist Carlos Hernandez. Originally, we had stumbled upon his fantastic, colorful posters at the Cactus Music in Houston, of rockabilly legends Wanda Jackson and Buddy Holly. Shortly after we saw his images on our Instagram feed. We hastily scrolled through post after post, knowing that it would be a must to showcase his mesmerizing work on Ponyboy. Hernandez’s art is impressive, having worked with many musicians and clients, for example, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Kills, Levi’s and SXSW. Probably no one can describe his work more aptly than himself – “My work reproduces familiar visual images, drawn or found, arranging or collaging them into new conceptually layered pieces. For me, the discipline of printmaking is the process of discovery; I love how the process has a feeling of unpredictability. In creating my work, I am drawn to discarded and found graphics and like to incorporate hand-drawn elements, old ads and dirty patterns to add to my illustration and collage work.”
PONYBOY: Your artwork is truly out of this world. It’s quite unique and stands on its own. How did you originally get into art?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I grew up in Lubbock, Texas and moved to Houston in 1992 after graduating from Texas Tech University. I’ve been to the major cities in Texas, but Houston has always had a funky mix of cultures, which I still love to this day.
PONYBOY: Music is obviously a big part of your inspiration. Tell us about your background in music.
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I’ve always been into music growing up. My mom took me to see A Hard Days Night at the drive-in theatre when I was a baby, because my parents didn’t have a babysitter. So you could say I started young. I would hear things on the radio and on TV. It wasn’t until I got into college that I really began to expand my musical taste. I began to appreciate country, blues, world music, and college rock. We had an amazing radio station at Texas Tech University that played all of the underground bands of that time.
Then in college, I began to play with bands around Lubbock, and upon moving to Houston, my cousin and I started a band, The Flaming Hellcats.
PONYBOY: You are a self-described printmaker. Can you tell our readers who might not know – what exactly is a printmaker? What does the actual process entail?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: A printmaker can use a variety of methods to produce multiples of artworks. I focus on screenprinting. I create a stencil on a screen, which is then used to apply ink onto paper.
PONYBOY: Do you ever incorporate computers in the process of making any of your artwork?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I do. Sometimes I’ll have work in my sketchbook, and I scan that into Photoshop to tweak it and to separate colors to print film for the screenprinting process.
PONYBOY: And who would you say are some of your favorite artists?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: How do I even start? Without mentioning any one artist, I love the Fifties and Sixties artists of the Pop Art movement. Amazing Illustrators of the 1970s rock and soul album covers. Collage artists of the Thirties. And in general, anyone who is considered an outside artist, meaning no training in art.
PONYBOY: You have a broad base of commercial clients. What brands have you really enjoyed working with?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I’ve had a long history of working with Saint Arnold Brewing Company, and Brock, the owner, has always supported not only my work for Saint Arnold, but also my personal work. Other companies would be Live Nation, Apple, Levi’s, and Google. I’ve also really enjoyed doing art and interior work for various restaurants.
PONYBOY: As far as musicians/bands, who have been your favorite so far to collaborate with?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I’ve had the opportunity to produce gig posters for some of my favorite musicians, such as Los Lobos, Santana, ZZ Top, and Tom Petty. I also appreciate my ongoing work for clients like Southern Culture on the Skids and Jason Isbell. In addition, I have enjoyed working with underground musical artists who aren’t considered mainstream.
PONYBOY: What exactly is Burning Bones Press? And how did you meet your partner in the project, Patrick Masterson?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: Burning Bones Press is a printmaking studio in Houston which collaborates with publishers, dealers, artists, and institutions to produce limited editions of original etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and monoprints. We also offer a monthly membership for experienced printmakers, in addition, to workshops for the general public in a variety of printmaking techniques.
Pat and I were introduced through the printmaking community. We both decided that there should be a membership studio for printmakers to produce their work.
PONYBOY: Tell us about working with Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, the word famous artist who created Rat Fink.
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: It was a dream of mine that came true. I copied his art style when I was a little kid. I loved his hot rod drawings and the Rat Fink character. It had a cool underground vibe. Years later, I had the opportunity to do contract work for a company that was licensing his products. I was called in to help supervise the job and through that was able to meet Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and work with him side-by-side.
PONYBOY: We’re super fans of Nashville-based Hatch Show Print. We read that you participated in their visiting artist program. What was that experience like? And tell us about the Psychedelic Honky-Tonk Rock N Roll Freak Circus show at the Haley Gallery.
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: Hatch Show Print discovered me through social media. They liked the poster vibe that I was creating. They want artists in their residency that are not letterpress people, which is what they already do. I love letterpress and was ecstatic when they asked me to be the artist for the residency. Part of the agreement is to create a body of work that can be shown in the Haley Gallery. Fortunately for me, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I not only got to work with some of their amazing printmakers, but also got to do some collaging from throwaway print cuts that were available. The name of the show comes from being in Nashville, mixing my love of rock and roll and country music, and using those influences to create something that had not been shown before.
PONYBOY: Has your artwork been used on clothing? We think it would make terrific prints for clothing.
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I’ve recently been working with Heritage Boots in Austin to produce hand-painted gloves, wallets and Schott leather jackets featuring my designs. In the past, I’ve produced my own t-shirts and have done a collaboration with Levi’s at SXSW. Vivienne Tam also used my Santo logo for Saint Arnold Brewing Company in her fabric prints for the Spring 2017 collection. I hope to keep experimenting to see where my graphic design and printmaking can go in the fashion world.
PONYBOY: What is the largest scale work that you’ve ever created?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I partnered with my artist friend John Hancock to create a 6-foot by 30-foot screen printed mural featuring the works of Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada on what would have been his hundredth birthday.
PONYBOY: What would be your dream project? If you could collaborate with any one person, band or company?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I’ve already had so many dream projects. I’ve worked with my childhood idol, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, with one of my music heroes, Billy Gibbons, and with companies I’ve admired like Apple for an Apple Music playlist. And being the official poster artist for the Austin City Limits Music Festival and SXSW was definitely a high in my career. If I’m happy doing the work, then maybe I am living the dream.
PONYBOY: Are there any upcoming projects that you can tell our readers about?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I’m currently wrapping up a series of mixed-media collages that will culminate in a show in September.
PONYBOY: Ultimately, what do you hope to achieve as far as your artwork is concerned in the future?
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I’ve been very lucky working for myself. I hope to continue that path and never stop learning.