Artist Feature: Goñi Montes
Goñi Montes is a Puerto Rican-born, fantasy illustrator, currently based in Atlanta, GA.
He’s currently best known in the tokusatsu community as the artist behind the stunning helmet variant covers for the debut issue of BOOM! Studios Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic. Since then, he continues to create memorable covers for the series, including the cover for the upcoming 40-page annual anthology issue coming this August.
For those interested in purchasing prints of his incredible work, prints are available through his personal store as well as galleries such as Gallery Nucleus, who hosted a Power Rangers art exhibit back in January.
Can you tell us about your personal background and what drove you to become a professional artist?
I grew up as a consumer of art, but I’d never considered creating art myself until later in life. Comics, art books, museums, animated films and shows were some of my favorites. Before my third year of college, I’d never had any formal art education. After my first elective class in drawing and painting, I started drawing constantly. Years of experience dealing with computers made applications, like those of Adobe and Corel, feel very natural. During my last year of college, and against my better judgement, I switched to University of Puerto Rico’s art major. I then started polishing my skills as a print maker and a digital artist.
Since you formally studied the fine arts at a university and Masters’ level, what can you say was your most rewarding experience going through a formal fine arts program?
It definitely must be the people you meet and the connections you build. Some of my teachers went on to become good friends and colleagues. Most of my classmates have gone on to become very successful artists themselves. It surrounds you with a healthy, competitive environment. It’s pushed me to become better.
What was it like working as a scientific illustrator?
It was super fun! I got to make use of my background in science. The tasks were very pragmatic. For the most part, it was about drawing the most exemplary rendition of an organism. But what made it exceptionally cool was being surrounded by so many scientists. I was one of a few artists in the office. Needless to say, conversations were fascinating.
How did you connect with BOOM! Studios to create the incredible covers for Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0?
I’d been working with BOOM! Studios on other covers for a couple of years. When Power Rangers was happening, they called to ask for the first six covers. We’ve been making more ever since. Those guys are awesome to work with.
Were you a fan of Power Rangers or any Japanese tokusatsu (i.e. Ultraman, Godzilla) growing up?
By the time Power Rangers reached the small island of Puerto Rico, I was already too old and into other things. But to answer your question, Yes! Ultraman!
I can now say I’m a fan of the Rangers too. I love what BOOM! Studios has been doing with them. Not to mention that, to create cover after cover, I’ve been catching up with as much MMPR as I can. So now I’m that guy that knows every single detail about it. Especially the Pink Ranger. She always gets the coolest zords if you ask me.
What influences your specific art style?
My major influences have been Puerto Rican printmakers, Pre-Raphaelite artists, the Art Nouveau art movement, comics, and animated films and shows.
Do you have a favorite medium you like working with?
Absolutely. Digital has always been my main choice.
For the most part, I use Adobe Photoshop. When working analog, I like pencils, inks, gouache, and watercolors. I sometimes use acrylics, but ours is mostly a love-hate relationship.
Do you have a specific process when creating a piece? Can you walk us through the process?
It’s pretty much the standard process that the majority of other illustrators use. I get the story, then I start drawing small sketches of ideas, called thumbnails. Show those to the art director and and see which route we want to go. Then I take the feedback and flesh out a tight drawing, which then gets painted.
The new Issue #0 reprint covers with Rita and Tommy’s Dark Sword are quite the favorite, especially among our own Tokusatsu Network staff members. Has the immense feedback from Power Rangers fans affected you in any way?
It’s been great support! A lot of people get to see my related work through the covers I’ve done for Power Rangers. It’s also a little intimidating. Power Rangers has such a large fanbase and you just want to make sure they like what the way you render these longtime heros.
Will we see more of your work in comics in the future?
I sure hope so! BOOM! Studios and I have a great relationship and I see us working together for a long time. Even then, I’m constantly promoting and making new connections, so who knows where else I’ll be able to lend some of my skills.
What advice would you like to give aspiring artists looking to work in editorials or comics?
I always provide the five things that have worked for me. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll work for everyone, but there are many colleagues that have done similar things with good results.
- Lose the fear of putting yourself out there. You’re an artist and a communicator. If you’re afraid of expressing yourself, you’re afraid of doing your job!
- Be polite, friendly, and responsible. Nobody wants to work with an illustrator that’s either rude or irresponsible. That illustrator will make any art director look bad.
- Pick your clients wisely. Self awareness of your abilities will help you find a market where those skills are necessary. Then target that market like your life depends on it… cuz it kinda does.
- Develop a healthy web presence (this follows #1). Talk about your art and allow people to get to know you and your work. Be aware of and fervently express where you stand as an artist.
- Get social. Going to events and meeting artists will help people remember you. It increases the probabilities of art directors calling you when they need a problem solved.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I do! But alas, NDAs. I can’t talk about these projects at the moment. But a lot will be posted soon [on my website].
His covers can also be found in the first collected volume for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 1 to be released this September.
All artwork featured in the Tokusatsu Network Artist Feature are reposted with permission from the original artist. Please do not repost or alter in any way without permission and proper credit.