INTERVIEW: m ū z by mark muñoz
m ū z is the extension of the handmade, personalized gifts Mark Muñoz has given to the important women in his life. His relationships are the source of his inspiration towards the creation of the m ū z girls and products based on things they love - storytelling art, tasty food, thoughtful gifts, cute pets, etc.
Mark's goal is to have people relate to a m ū z girl herself, or to the inspiration that led to her creation. The result is a diverse line of color-rich, energetic designs, derived from the individual muses, possessing their own personality, style and most of all, feeling.
Every design was created from the excitement for what I do and how I feel. It's always fun and hasn't gotten old yet. I hope it comes across that way and that you can find your inspiration in it to pursue whatever your heart desires.
"For me, it was an incredible girl who inspired me to start everything you see here as well as what I have yet to do. She was my muse."
Whose muse are you?
Interview with Mark Muñoz
Q: Tell us a a bit about your background. What made you interested in art? Who were your influences? How did you get involved in art?
A: The first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. I totally believed it was real and I remember the first comic I got around that time was Action Comics #536 and I was hooked since then. The Big 3 at Marvel, (Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee), got every kid into comics. They were superstars and I wanted to draw just like them.
When the SciFi Channel debuted, they featured Japanimation (that's what they called it back in the day) never seen in America. So different than what we have here, I was fortunate to have made a friend who knew everything about anime. He was my anime fixer.
Q: What inspired you to create muz?
A: I fell in love with a girl and always made her things. When we broke up, I kept making her things but never gave them to her. In time, that push to make things faded. I met another girl and the creativity came back. It was during this period, the first muz girls came about and I figured out whatever made me happy became the inspiration for muz.
Q: Who is the muz customer?
A: Someone who stays forever young and knows what makes them happy. They appreciate experiences, imagery and design that takes them to other places and memories that define who they are (or who they want to be). When they know what they want, the facade of shyness disappears and they open themselves up to what's out there.
Q: Where do you derive your inspiration from? Do you look to other contemporary artist's work during your artistic process?
A: At first, the inspiration to create came from girls I knew. Then it expanded to the things that made them happy and finally to what makes me happy. I still incorporate all of that into the creative process so there's so much diverse content to pick from.
I look at what artists like Katsuya Terada, Mike Mignola, Travis Charest, Leinil Yu and Kim Jung Gi draw and go through the five stages of denial about how awesome their work is. Then I start on my stuff.
Q: How do you come up with the people you want to do tributes to?
A: It’s never on purpose. If I think too hard about it, it’s a mess and I focus more on technique and how it looks. It’s become a matter of flow. I know when something doesn’t work fairly early on and stop. When I got it, the drawing almost draws itself.
Most of the time, I’ll sketch while thinking of a story. Or I repetitiously run a story in my head and then the single-image visual pops up where I’m trying to mash as much detail into one drawing, (like with i ain’t playing your lame ass song).
In the beginning with the first m ū z girls, it was all raw emotion. If I loved her, then I don’t talk much about her to anyone and keep that for myself. Sketching was a therapeutic form of coping. Those thoughts in my head make their way through the pencil and onto the paper.
Q: What is your approach to color? How is color used in your work?
A: The more colorful the better. My tendency, though, is to create muz girls in grey with rich colors as compliments. With the other designs, I try to saturate them with color to convey a mood. Grey is not a good mood to be in.
Picking color is a crap shoot. I have this vision of where I'm going to end but along the way, I take a detour to another color way. A mood change or something I see can easily shift the direction I’m going with color. Thank God for Hue Adjustments.
Q: Where has your work been headed more recently?
A: Fun stuff. I have a bunch of Tshirts coming out called Phantoms for events and organizations that never happened. Now that (I think) I have muz figured out, it's about filling the company in with the fun stuff that pops up in my head.
Q: How do you see art emerging from the tech space?
A: Everyone wants to learn how to draw and it used to be an exclusive club where those who could draw would draw. The software now allows the neophyte to jump right in and actually draw. For example, I'm really bad at drawing meticulous interiors but the software I use to draw (Clip Studio Paint) has 3D objects that you can position as your reference or as the final background. Same goes for body proportions and posing, particularly hands. Hands drive artists crazy.
Q: Why did you decide to use characters to tell the story?
A: I've always been a fan of sequential comics and movie storytelling. Before I knew what they were, I really liked drawing vignettes. Stand alone stories that could be as short as one page, or even one panel, could convey a very strong story. As for the muz girls, how they come out is how I saw them. Romanticized, sure, but it came naturally and organically.
Q: So each description below is the interaction that spurred the thought for the design?
A: Yes, every design came from an event. Either it’s a fresh experience or from memory, I run the story in my head while I draw.
Q: If you could have any super power what could it be and why?
A: Am I limited to one or can I say I want Superman's powers? If it's only one, then flying. I may get bored with the speed limitation of flying so I may change that to teleportation. Or telekinesis. But only if it’s like the Force where moving a rock or a mountain is the same thing.
Q: What quote best sums up your personal philosophy?
A: Surround yourself with ideas, things and people that make you happy. They’re fuel for what you do, so do what you love.