Edward Montes is a Dallas painter drawing inspiration from travel and his love of skateboarding. He has always drawn a particular character, but it’s a nameless character that has constantly changed. “It transforms into whatever mood I’m in,” says Montes. After a few minor local exhibitions, his work drew the attention of Red Bull Sound Select, who had him do a flier for an upcoming show and paint skateboards that will be given away as prizes.
Montes has been drawing ever since he was old enough to pick up a crayon. “I don’t even remember when I started,” he says. “I’ve just been drawing my whole life.” His trademark character was around even back then, starting out as a ninja. “I was hugely influenced by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” he laughs. Soon one of his uncles captured his attention and ranch scenery influenced the character, which started to appear with animal features like a cow or a cat.
At 26, he has traveled extensively all over the world. With parents from Puerto Rico and Mexico, he has visited both countries several times. Montes has also visited the Caribbean Islands and Australia, among other places. But he considers a trip to China particularly influential to his work. “I’ve always been more influenced by more of the Asian art style,” he says. He was in China for several months as a middle school student and his character started appearing as a ninja again.
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The aesthetics of artists like Jackson Pollock and Keith Haring have also been huge influences, as well as fellow local artists. Using lighter colors, Montes imitated Pollock’s splatter paint approach for a little while. The bright colors he saw in Chinese art have also had a lasting effect on his paintings. He tried to mimic it with watercolors. “I don’t do watercolor anymore,” he explains. “I couldn’t really master it.” Montes eventually started using household paint, basically the cheapest stuff he could get. After working in home repair, he painted many houses and was often given leftover buckets of paint.
By now he's used this type of paint so much that it is the only thing he feels comfortable with. Montes says the oil and acrylic paint from art stores creates a latex shell he just doesn’t care for. “I like the way it dries,” he says. “It doesn’t dry nearly as fast as acrylic paint. And I just got used to the texture. Oil paint takes forever to dry and it ruins all my brushes.” Household paint is also considerably more economical for an artist who paints every day. Jackson Pollock had already been a huge influence on his work, but he was tickled when he watched a documentary on one of his idols and learned he used similar materials.
Montes loves skateboarding as much as he loves painting. He does not consider himself a professional skateboarder, but he does have sponsors and there are several videos of him skateboarding on YouTube. He also painted many skateboards. “But mostly on boards I’ve already skated,” he says. It seems to be a way for him to retire a skateboard. He has also filled countless sketchbooks with skateboard imagery.
Montes has now completed the flier for the upcoming Red Bull Sound Select show featuring The Riverboat Gamblers, which imagines his character as a pirate with a wooden leg. He also finished the three skateboards, with his character centered on a bottle, hugging it on one board and crying into it on another. After having a few works showing up in small local exhibits, this is the most visibility he has had so far.