Cool Art: Super Emo Friends Chat With J Salvador

bane Cool Art: Super Emo Friends Chat With J Salvador

I was passing by J Salvador’s booth at WonderCon and heard several laughs and “awww’s” from attendees.  I looked at more closely why his Super Emo Friends booth was getting a reaction and I got it right away.  Salvador’s artwork was great and the concept behind it was funny and cute.  I talked to Brian at the booth.  I thought he was the creator (he’s also an artist) but he said he was helping out his friend, J Salvador.  It turned out the pieces were selling so well that Salvador had to make a quick run to a store to get more frames.

I got an interview with J Salvador after the Con as I wanted to learn his creative process behind his awesome work.
NERDSociety (NS): How did you come up with Super Emo Friends?

J Salvador (JS):  The first emo friend was Batty, based on a popular Super Hero. My friends and I were drinking, joking about the fact that his parents were dead, and thinking I could make it cute, I drew a quick sketch in my sketchbook. Unrelated, the next day I foolishly decided to break up with my girlfriend.

I was feeling very sad and I guess to cope, I painted batty and 11 more super heroes all with their own problems.  Being as emotional as I was, it was very easy. They were meant to be a personal project but friends convinced me to share them. I put them on etsy, sent the link to a blog and they went viral immediately.

NS:  Which piece has gotten the most responses?

JS: It’s hard to tell, everyone has their own favorite but the top tearjerkers are definitely Chewie, Batty, and Wougie. My Never Ending Story inspired piece is also a hit, although I don’t know why because it’s too damn depressing.

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NS: You had great responses at WonderCon, was that the first time they were introduced to the public? 

JS: The Emo Friends have been out for the public to see since the end of 2009 and they have been a success everywhere they go, but that’s mostly due to the fact that I know where they will be appreciated most. I was not prepared for the WonderCon crowd, it was non stop.

But everyone had a fun time.As my buddy described it “The best time you’ll ever have being bummed out!”

NS: Let’s go back a little bit to your artwork, how did you start?

JS: I’ve been drawing since I can remember, I have drawings of grim reapers from when I was 5 or 6 years old!

All my teachers pointed me towards art classes and I just went along with it. When it was time to pick an art school for college I was freaked out by the price and the people so I studied film instead. I liked the collaborative

As for my style, it’s deliberately kawaii which I fell in love with while watching a japanese animated cartoon called Dragon Half. I wanted to see my favorite western pop cultural figures done in anime/kawaii style. Now of course, this look is everywhere.

NS: What do you like better, DC or Marvel?

JS: I was always a marvel kid. I just preferred the art style and I was a huge spiderman fan. Superman seemed so boring to me. DC also felt so “old”.  Batman of course was pretty cool but I attribute that to the
TV show.  I don’t read DC or Marvel comics anymore, I feel my  experiences with them belong in the past. Although, what is up with Doc Oct taking Spiderman’s body?!

zelda Cool Art: Super Emo Friends Chat With J Salvador

NS: What are your other hobbies, I noticed you had a Street Fighter line?

JS: My other hobbies are going to art galleries, very very light toy collecting, karaoke, and drawing girls. I’ll be  showing off that stuff someday.

The street fighters were just my cool kawaii renditions I made for the tournament scene. But gamers don’t really buy art so I stopped producing them. Any other gamer art I produce would most likely be

NS: Why just a light colllection of toys, what’s your favorite?

JS: I started toy collecting around 1995 when everyone else did too. I’ve got random toys all boxed up at my parents house. 10 years later I felt duped and now I rarely buy anything. I can’t think of my favorite memorabilia.

Sorry I had to let go of loving possessions.

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NS: Switching to a different topic, what are your favorite movies?

JS: I have so many, but these are the few that popped into my head first.

Cabeza De Vaca– This movie just blows my mind, a depiction of america before it was ever touched by europeans. Such a fascinating place to put your mind for a couple hours. It serves as an appropriate reality check for me.

There Will be Blood– I just love the characters and how deep into their hearts and minds we get to go into.   The symbolism, the evil! It serves as a cautionary tale about ambition.

District 9 – This movie is just so badass. It’s what I wish video game, super hero based movies could be.

NS:  Your thoughts on Disney acquiring Star Wars?

JS: Star Wars stopped being Star Wars once I saw the Phantom Menace. I didn’t care anymore. Its just been so exhausted and the latest movies were so soulless, I’m actually looking forward to what Disney can do.
I’ll just keep hoping they give Pixar the keys to the Falcon.

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NS: What’s your advice to be a successful artist?

JS: Well I’d have to ask the aspiring artist what they are aspiring for.  Money? Fame? Photorealism? Social Change? If this person knows what they want then they need to make themselves capable of doing it by doing it over and over and over. Stick to it.

I think being a successful artist is like being an apple tree. People come to you for your apples, but if you suddenly start offering oranges, then you’re gonna have a bad time.

As for motivation, I stick to my style and my ideology and I look for anything I can draw that fits into it so I can build on my work. At the end of the day I hope that my art not only makes people smile, but also think and feel.

NS: Final words to your fans and supporters?

JS: Yes! Thanks so much for the support! I had no idea the Super Emo Friends would be such a fun experience and I look forward to keeping the dream alive! Now I must go and experience pop culture so I can
paint more!

I want to thank J Salvador for the interview!

You can buy his prints at his etsy shop and follow him on FB, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram   !

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