Continuing our series on musicians who are also artists, we had the chance to speak with MonstrO guitarist Juan Montoya, formerly of Ed Matus' Struggle, Torche, and Stallone, whose illustrations are rapidly becoming prized objets d'art for fans of his kaleidoscopic landscapes inhabited by KISS, kitty cats and nubile women. Somewhere in these lysergic, surrealist worlds, he's become a bit obsessive, a la Mark Mothersbaugh, with the amount of work he churns out on an almost daily basis.
Happy to create commissioned pieces or just doodling away between his numerous musical engagements, Montoya is one of the nicest dudes in metal today. Currently a resident of Georgia, we had a chance to speak with him about his illustrations and managed the rare feat of going the length without a Panda Bite reference.
New Times: When did you become interested in art?
Juan Montoya: Comic books are how I learned to read, and I was amazed how certain illustrations went so well with the stories. I was about four years old so it had a big impact. Also, I found some art my mom made during her bohemian younger days at one of our older houses. She never really tells me much about her past, and I was impressed by her talent. She also blew me away when I heard her sing at parties.
What is your preferred medium?
I mainly use these cool Japanese ink markers I picked up over there. I've been using acrylic markers too. I'm usually doing art on tours and it would take too long for oil pieces to dry. I've conditioned myself to work fast.
You turn a lot of work over, mostly commissions, how do you balance music with your visual work?
Working fast is my speed. I love spontaneity and improvising in music, and I've been able to use that state of mind in my art. I usually lightly sketch the main idea but most of the details just happen on its own. I write music late at night and use natural sunlight to work on my pieces. But I always make it a point to draw something right before I turn the bedroom lamp off. You'll see a lot of these on my @Montoya_blackmagic Instagram. It gives me ideas for the next work day. I've found myself lying in bed for a few hours in the dark painting images in my head. It's actually pretty fun, kinda like creating your own movie. So yeah, I barely sleep.
What are you working on now?
I'm doing a few pieces for famous photographer Mick Rock's manager. She's been super supportive of my art which I'm grateful for. I'm getting some fabulous photos of Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd and a young '70s David Bowie that Mick took back in the golden era of glam. I'm beyond excited.