Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, Anta52 was always drawing, sketching, and doodling scenes from Godzilla movies to comic books, but never taking it seriously outside of immature stuff to make his friends laugh. Once in high school Anta52 recalls an awkward incident that almost derailed his creative career indefinately. After losing confidence, Anta52 was challenged by an esteemed art teacher who gave him four-years-worth of art assignments that needed to be completed in one year to meet graduation requirements. Anta52 not only took up the challenge but came away with a newfound passion and obsession for art. Nowadays, it is impossible not to find Anta52’s work somewhere across the Coachella Valley. Whether it is a sticker slapped on a guitar case of a local band, someone wearing a cap with his signature “Anta” embroidered on the front, the poster and t-shirt designs for the first annual Palm Springs Comic Con and more. Anta52 uses social media as a tool to network and work with people from all across the globe and occasionally gets to travel — but he admits, “I just love it out here. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.” 

What is your first recollections of making art?
ANTA52: I’ve always been drawing. I’ve always been doing shit. My earliest memories are of drawing scenes from my favorite Godzilla movies. I was always drawing things that had that immediate impact on me as a kid, from gross out Tom Bunk illustrations in Mad Magazine, to the work of Mark McKee on skateboards and my favorite cartoons and comics. A good steady practice of redrawing all of the trash media I consumed.

What impact did films have on you?
ANTA52: I grew up on Godzilla because those were the old VHS tapes that my mom had — she would go out of her way to find them. I would even go to the local video store and try and find whatever Godzilla movies I hadn’t seen or didn’t have in my collection. That just became a childhood obsession that bled into adulthood.

Where did you grow up?
ANTA52:  Coachella, born and raised. Ok, I was born in Indio, but that doesn’t count.

What was it like growing up in Coachella and attending Coachella Valley High School?
ANTA52: Coachella was an awesome place to grow up! Especially back then. Plenty of empty lots and sand everywhere! It was actually at CVHS when I started taking art seriously. I had an instructor by the name of Peggy Long, that really just whipped me into shape. She made me feel like a real sack for not having taken art with her all four years of high school and made me do several years worth of work in one year. I never took art seriously. I took one art class my freshman year and I don’t know why, but I decided to wear all white one day. White shoes, white socks, white hat, white shirt, and one of my friends decided to spill paint on me. Being a socially awkward little fatso with esteem issues, this really upset and turned me off from art for two years. I never really drew much after that, except for habitually doodling on homework and assignments. I would doodle all the time. I would doodle constantly. I would sketch and I would draw, but it never seemed like I wanted to take art seriously outside of drawing immature stuff for the sole purpose of making my friends laugh. My high school had an art academy that you can take general courses and courses that emphasize art and I completely skipped all of it because it never even seemed like something that I would even want to do. I was that thrown off by getting covered in paint wearing all white one day that… It seems silly looking back now, but that’s how I felt then. Any way, good ‘ol Peggy Long gave me four years worth of assignments that needed to be completed in one year and I took her up on the challenge and art became a new passion and obsession.

Did growing up in Coachella influence your artwork in any particular way?
ANTA52: In a lot of ways it did because, what living in Coachella did for me, was provide isolation. As in, we were kind of separated from everything. Outside of school it just seemed like the only things to do as kids was run around different parts of town, dick around in the desert and just kick it with close friends who lived within walking distance of my house. We kind of just had this weird, closed-off group. We all grew up together, vandalized property, drew, painted, shared music, partied, hosted backyard shows and did all kinds of stuff together. Even now a lot of the people that I grew up with, especially Freddy from Tribesmen or Jorge from Los Mumblers, like we were all friends because we were living and growing up in Coachella. Like who else were we going to befriend? We were the only people in and out of the shows and bands and all that stuff. We’re still friends to this day. Coachella gave me a community that I didn’t know existed and didn’t know I was a part of. The art community in Coachella that I now gladly consider myself a part of.

How important is social media to get your name and work out there?
ANTA52: It’s become monumentally important, not to the point where I base my entire existence and base myself on follower count or how much buzz I’m generating online. Social media has become a tool to allow me to network and work with people outside of the desert, because I’m stubborn. I don’t want to leave the desert, I want to try and do as much as I can from the desert and social media has given me the tools to do that. I’ve worked with people from all over the place and I can do it mostly from home, and then sometimes get to travel and go to cool places I’ve never been to and hang out with artists I’ve only known through social media. For the most part I get to just live and work from home and do as much as I can because of social media. It’s important in that sense, it allows me to stay connected with the people I work with and to find new people to work with.

What would you say you like the most about the desert, Coachella Valley?
ANTA52: I love living here and being here. It’s hard to describe, it’s almost like a weird connection where if I’m far from the desert long enough I start to feel like some kind of homesickness, I start to get anxiety and just want to go home. Being able to see the windmills when you’re leaving the desert. The mountains off in the horizon in any direction you look. Anything like that, those small little things. It’s hard to describe, there’s no one particular thing. You could chalk it up to the people, you could chalk it up to the climate, you could chalk it up to the environment. Even the blistering heat that keeps out losers who can’t stand the summers is something I enjoy about the desert. I just love it out here. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Can you tell us about some of your recent collaborations with the first annual Palm Springs Comic Con and Epidemic Skateboard Shop?
ANTA52: As far as PS Comic Con goes, both Justin Holden and Alex Callego reached out for help, doing graphics for the event and I was more than happy to help. At first it was boring stuff, promotional graphics, setting up templates postcards and shit like that! Eventually they asked if I wanted to contribute art to the con. I jumped on the opportunity! We just started brainstorming and coming up with ideas and we joked about not going in the cliché direction and doing the windmills and palm trees, then we said fuck all and settled on, “Why not just do the windmills, but do like the windmills in the most exaggerated way possible?” Then we were thinking about how do we do that? Then, I forget who, but someone jokingly suggested doing a giant robot windmill and we laughed about it and we were like, “Dude that’s perfect. Let’s just roll with that.” That’s how ML-T0N the earth loving, water bottle crushing, windmill robot came to be! As far as giving him the name, I mean it was just really simple. He’s a windmill, name him ML-T0N, it works. It’s spelled out ML-T0N, so it’s super cool and futuristic…It turned into this whole thing where we were just creating the lore around who is ML-T0N and we kind of just stuck on this idea of him being some kind of Captain Planet environmental crusader where he’s here to protect the renewable energy and other progressive energy resources in the desert.

Is ML-T0N going to be the logo for the future Palm Springs Comic Cons?
ANTA52:  Well, we discussed using it as a mascot and I’m open to whatever they want to do with him. I had a great time coming up with the images. I had a great time coming up with the different products that we came out with and it was just a really nice exercise in being a designer. They didn’t really tell me what to do, I just went for it. I mean it was so like loose and last minute that I was just coming out with shit at the very last minute, calling in all the homie cards I hadn’t redeemed yet, with friends who are printers and people who produce goods and just started getting stuff made. I was over my head with how much stuff I made, but we ended up selling most of it. It was a lot of fun. For me it was a fun exercise in just running loose. Being able to just create without any real outside direction, as in just me trying to make an appropriate image and graphic that works for this convention. Everyone at the con loved it, and I was happy that they chose me and we were able to reach a happy conclusion on the project. I think that’s why the image was so successful, it was because, ML-T0N is a representation of just me at ease, having fun and being able to just create.

How did the project for Epidemic come about?
ANTA52: That was all Glen Coy, he used to be the owner and creative director at Epidemic and he always hits me up with a lot of different projects that we have fun on. It’s a skate shop, none of it is to be taken too seriously, but at the same time we just go back and forth on different ideas. He hit me up about a collaboration with the company Psock-A-Delic, they were going to make shop socks. That immediately just struck a bolt in me because I’ve never done socks. I was like, “Yeah, I’m totally into this project.” I was into the idea of creating graphics that were going to be reproduced as knitted patterns. I was just super into it. We came up with three different ideas, one of them being the Beta face, which is the one that ultimately got produced…It’s the shop dog Beta. She’s kind of like a mascot for Epidemic, so they do a lot of imagery with her. I only recently got my hands on a pair. I was just completely blown away and I bought three pairs on the spot, not including the complementary pairs they gave me.

Let’s talk about your series titled “New Year, New Me.”It’s going to be a zine correct?
ANTA52: Right, “New Year, New Me” it’s a series of daily drawings that are more an exercise in just drawing and not having to think about something too much. I tend to overthink most of what I work on and take far too long drawing, painting and putting stuff together. The whole point of the series is to come up with a new end rhyme for “Me” in “New Year, New Me.” Same goes for “New” in “New Me”. The whole project was a stupid half-assed idea that I cooked up for the sole purpose of making a series of drawings that I can share online. The project was way more than I expected. It just became a challenge for me to have, to put out a drawing every single day, however ill-conceived, however poorly thought out, however quick or brief. However sloppy! I thought it would be easy. I was in the middle of moving into my current spot at the time, working full time as a production designer at a print shop and committed to weekly sit down sessions with an artist who was teaching me how to paint with acrylics. Still, sleepless and exhausted I stubbornly saw the series all the way through. Initially the drawings were just silly for the sake of being silly. Then the series, as it progressed, slowly just became more and more personal. It became whatever I was feeling during the day, whatever I was going through, it was reflected in the drawing.

Is it like a journal, but in visual form?
ANTA52: I would say it’s like visual Tweeting. You just get that initial stupid thought and then you draw it and you post it and you didn’t really think about it. I just kind of did it. Right now, I have all the originals and I’ve had people suggest doing an art show with the originals and that might be an interesting idea, to actually maybe do a whole exhibit, or make it a part of an exhibit. Put all the originals up in frames on a wall for people to check out. A lot of people see them and I still have people ask me what apps am I using, because they don’t know they’re all hand drawn. They’re all just markers on watercolor paper. Then occasionally mixed media, depending on what I was doing that day. The drawings will be in two separate zines, one for the 29 drawings of 2016 and the current 31 drawings I’m finishing now for 2017.

What is at the core of what you do as an artist?
ANTA52: I would say it would be one part love of the craft and one part just trying to make sense of everything through my art. I’m the kind of person who can’t pick up social cues, has most things fly clear over my head and would much rather be at home drawing, doing my studies, reading my books or slaying demons on DOOM. The core of me as an artist is trying to communicate the thoughts and ideas I have a hard time articulating with words alone.

Is there anyone you want to give a shout-out to?
ANTA52: It would definitely be AJ Davila, for everything he’s done for me and how much he’s helped with promoting me as an artist and my work. A huge shout out to Mike Rios and all my friends at Cactus Tattoo for how much they push me on the daily and really just inspire me with my personal work and being able to help them with their projects. Lisa Soccio at the Marks Art Center. One last super fat shout out to all of the people who have been following me and my work since the Myspace days. To anyone who has bought anything off my site and all of the people who buy prints and originals from me! Thanks a ton!

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