The Q&A: Aaron Fernandez

By Peggy Roalf   Monday October 8, 2018


Q: Originally from [where?] what are some of your favorite things about living and working in [your current locale]?

A: I’m originally from Orange County, California (just outside the gates of the Real Housewives); now I live in Queens and work out of my studio in Brooklyn. I've pretty much centered my life around my work. I don't know that a lot of people back home really understand that mentality. But here I feel like I'm surrounded by people who are really dedicated and passionate about what they do. I think that's my favorite thing about living here. It makes me want to make stuff, too.  

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: It’s crazy, I haven’t touched a pencil to paper in literal years. I still sketch, of course, but I do it on an iPad. It definitely has its pitfalls, but for someone as meticulous and compulsive about drawing as I am, sketching digitally is a dream. Before I used to actually make my own sketchbooks with custom printed grids. I had a ton of them for different perspectives/angles to make sure everything lined up correctly once I brought it into the computer. And that was cute for a while, but making a bunch of sketchbooks and making sure you always have one with the right grid gets old, ha ha. Now I have a magical ruler that shows accurate measurements and tells me the exact angle I’m drawing at, a pencil that is always a constant width, an eraser that leaves no marks or shavings, and the ability to time travel! And all within the Notes app!

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: My window. Being able to have sunlight and the ability to just turn my head and zone out is the most important part of my workflow. I spend a lot of my time working in solitude so the window keeps me from feeling like I’m in a black hole lol.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished—or when to stop working on it?

A: That’s hard to say. A lot of the time when I’m making a piece, it feels like I’m just throwing a bunch of stuff at it until something clicks, ya know? I think with most pieces I have a base image that takes a while to click for me, and sometimes it never does and that sucks. But once that base image clicks I pretty much just run out the clock adding detail. It’s the tiny moments that I feel make a piece really feel like it’s own world, so if you give me enough time I’ll keep going ‘til every corner has some tiny interaction, ha ha.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: I really loved A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Spiderwick Chronicles. Llooking back now I’m pretty sure I only liked them because the books were pretty. The former had these really cool decked edge pages and really intriguing characters, and the latter just had the most incredible illustrations I’d ever seen, all presented in the form of this field book that made you feel like you were really uncovering these creatures that were all around you. Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black did such an incredible job creating a really rich and unique world, and I wanted to be a part of it so so badly. Both of these series kind of have a similar mood, don’t they. My work Is obviously very different than the aesthetic of these books, but I feel like somewhere beneath the surface they still inform the work I make. And it’s still a dream of mine to one day create my own field guide of artifacts and creatures.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: Oof. Read? This is pretty embarrassing, but I think the last book I read was some pretty cheesy queer coming of age novel ha ha. I really loved it when I was a young teen and I was feeling nostalgic! Rereading it was trip, though. I don’t know that it held up all that well today, but it still got me in my emotion. (It’s called The Vast Fields of Ordinary if you must know. The cover art is aggressively 2007, please be kind to me ha ha)

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Sculpture! I’ve never really done any sculpting, but if I had a year to just make physical things that would be incredible. I love screens, don’t get me wrong, but something about having work that you can literally surround yourself with sounds amazing. I’m always trying to live in my own world. I feel like that would be the best way to do it.


Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: Ya know, I’m a  Pisces, and my emotions really go whichever way the wind blows. And my emotions tend to be a full body experience, so when I have a deadline but my head's not right things tend to go... awry. It's so hard to make work personal to yourself without taking the work too personally, ya know? Does that make sense? 

Q: What was the strangest/most interesting assignment you've taken that has an important impact on your practice, and what changed through the process?

A: I actually just did a poster for a show in the Red Bull Music Festival in Chicago that feels like might be the start of something new for me. With my aesthetic, I tend to get a lot of tech stories, which Iove, but this was for a show by and for queer people of color, which was more personal to me. I created this like altar piece that was not more 3-dimensional and physical that the work I've been making recently and I feel like it's a direction I want to get back to. 

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: A Crunchwrap Supreme and a Cassava cake. The food of my people!

My name is Aaron and I'm an Illustrator. Originally from Southern California, I came to New York to go to Pratt Institute where I graduated with a degree in Communications Design With an Emphasis in Illustration. Since then I've worked as a freelance Illustrator and Animator for great companies like BuzzFeed News, MTV, and The New York Times.



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