Artist Interview: Mr. Lemonade on PJ Style and Joys of Being An Illustrator

Our most recent collection, PJ Styles, comes from the imagination of Gabo Galicia – also known as Mr. Lemonade – an illustrator based in Leon, Mexico. Galicia is passionate about expressing what he sees, what he feels, and what is around him through his characters and illustrations.

Gabo Galicia, working in his studio.

Gabo Galicia, working in his studio.

First off, where does the nickname “Mr. Lemonade” come from?

My nickname is a tribute to my grandfather. He said lemons could cure all ailments, so whenever I was sick, he’d give me lemons.  That's why I love lemons and especially lemonade. It’s why I chose the nickname, Mr. Lemonade.

How old are you and where are you in terms of your career path?

I'm 30 years old. I really like the work of being a professional freelance illustrator. I'm in a great stage of my life where I have the opportunity to show my work around the world.

A poster made by Gabo for the Mexican rock band, The L-Rocks.

A poster made by Gabo for the Mexican rock band, The L-Rocks.

Describe your path to becoming a professional artist?

I love drawing and started at a very early age. It was a dream of mine to make a living doing what I love.  For a long time, I worked at places where I wasn’t happy.  Two years ago, with the help of social media and the Internet, I was able to devote myself exclusively to illustration. Although the road has been difficult, I never regret my decision.  Doing what I love is priceless.

Was that your first official art job?

My first job was illustrating and animating TV advertisements for the local zoo. With that project, I began my professional career.

Gabo's first commissioned artwork.

Gabo's first commissioned artwork.

Tell us about being an artist in Mexico?

I live in a small city near Mexico City. Being an illustrator in Mexico is challenging. In general, people and companies in Mexico don’t value the work we do. There is a lot of talent here so it can also be very competitive.  Thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to work with international companies on projects on a worldwide scope, which has a good way to showcase my work and develop new opportunities.

You seem be influenced by skateboarding, graffiti, and comic books.  Is that accurate? Where does this come from?

Yes, I'm a big fan of extreme sports.  I was a skateboarder for a couple of years, I practiced BMX, and I played football.  now I only do Crossfit, but I really love all the extreme sports and all the art that encompasses that world. The adventure sport lifestyle seems to encourage individual expression and depicting it through illustration is something I love to do.

Describe to us your collection, PJ Style.  Where did the inspiration come from?  What were the challenges?  What were the fun parts?

I wanted “PJ Style” to depict a bunch of kids trying to fulfill their dreams, each with his or her own history and own motivations.  It was difficult to invent over a hundred different characters, but I enjoyed the challenge. The lesson I hope the series conveys is that we can achieve all our dreams if we fight for our goals and have fun while doing it.

Aside from your NeonMob collection, what art that you’ve made are you most proud of?

I recently had an opportunity of working with [Japanese messaging company] Line to generate a set of stickers for their app. I used two characters to represent different messages. I am very proud of knowing that my work is being seen around the world.

Are you creatively satisfied?

I want to keep demanding more and more from myself and trying to improve my work. Illustration is a profession where you always have to give your best and continue to grow. I'm happy but I'm never satisfied. I always want more!

What kind of advice would you give to a young person starting out as an artist?

Fight for your dream, even if it means making some sacrifices. It will be worth those sacrifices. Never stop working hard and never stop improving your skills.  Strive to succeed but just as importantly, do not be afraid to fail.

Success is different for everyone. What does it mean to you?

For me, success is doing what you love. If you can feel happy doing your job, then you're successful.

Thanks so much, Gabo!  If you want to collect PJ Style on NeonMob, head on over here!