Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Under the Fuzz: With Edward Robin Coronel

There is a vast difference between someone who paints adorable, fuzzy little creatures that you glance at once, think "Oh, how cute," then never think of again, and an artist who creates adorable, fuzzy little creatures that actually have a character to them, a personality that exudes from the work and lingers with you long after you've stopped staring at them. Edward Robin Coronel is the latter of these two examples and his latest gaggle of characters, created for the upcoming SuperKickAss, is full of diverse and unique personalities, but they are all tied together by a subtle sweetness that the world desperately seems to need right now. I got a chance to ask Mr Coronel a few questions, of course, for the most part, I squandered it with my usual silliness, but in all his answers you can see that same sweetness and you know all his characters originate from a very honest, real place.

Radford: The characters in your paintings are redunkulously adorable. What bitter pain are you hiding behind their sweet faces Edward Robin Coronel? What bitter pain indeed?

Coronel: Thank you for the kind words. I find myself transported to my happy place when I paint or draw my "fuzzy/furry" creatures. Although I have only been painting for a couple of years now, art has always been an escape for me -- even at an early age.

R: What is your earliest artmaking memory?

C: My earliest art making memories are from grade school, when my younger sister and I would spend hours together, drawing our own cartoons. After school we would spread out scrap paper and pens on the living room floor and draw up our own cast of characters. Then we would cut them out. We called them our "paper people". Much of the time my sister wouldn't draw, rather she would tell me what to draw -- mainly family members, friends (including Captain Caveman, Merle Stubbing from the Love Boat and Mrs Garrett from the Facts of Life, etc.) and personified animals wearing snappy outfits.

We also created elaborate environments for our "paper people" to inhabit and have adventures within. Eventually, my sister and I created an entire "paper people" neighborhood comprised of single family homes, apartments, cars, spaceships and pets. Each afternoon our adventures would come to an abrupt conclusion though, when my Lola (Grandma) would give us a 30 minute warning, allowing us enough time to clean up our "paper people world", before our Mom would get home from work -- as she preferred the living room to be neat and tidy, "Just in case the Pope should happen to drop by...".

R: Do you get bacon or sausage as the side with your breakfast platter or are you both sides of the pig kind of guy?

C: I really enjoy both -- they make the world a better and tastier place to live. For the most part, I am a sweet and savory type of guy, so I like to have bacon with pancakes or sausage with waffles.

D: Since you have no formal art training, why don’t you tell the kiddies at home how you got so good at doing what it is you do?

C: Once again, thank you for the kind words.

As far as influences go, from an early age, I have always been attracted to drawn and illustrated works -- from children’s books to comic books to cartoons. I also appreciated photo books of baby animals, sticker collecting and the cute imagery and sentiments found within children's Valentines. As a child I often tried to emulate and reproduce the images that filled by brain.

More recently, I am fortunate to have artist friends who have shared some tips and tricks with me. But more than anything, I think it is a combination of having fun, lots of practice, experimentation, and patience.

R: Say the world falls into some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland of chaos, a la Mad Max, what would you make your warrior name in order to strike fear into the hearts of those who might dare to mean you harm?

C: Gosh, I really can’t think of anything at the moment…

R: Ok then, next question -- Are you more of a Fresh Price of Bel Air, an Independence Day, or a Pursuit of Happiness Will Smith fan? Explain.

C: Haha… let’s see: I am not street smart like The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and I wasn’t born and raised on the mean streets of West Philly; I’m not a self-assured Marine gun toting F/A-18 pilot living in an alien invading world. So I guess that I am kinda more of a Pursuit of Happiness type of guy. I am a big fan of happiness. Who doesn't like to be happy, right?

R: Your husband, Dan Barry, is a part of another Industrial Squid show later this year, called "All the Sordid Little Details". Do you guys often work on your art at the same time? How much influence would you say you have over each other’s decisions regarding your work?

C: For the most part, we work independently of one another. We do share a studio in which we spend a lot of time together. At times we give each other solicited and unsolicited feedback, ideas and/or suggestions. However, I do think it is important for us to nurture and develop our work individually. With that said, we were in a show this past December in Miami that allowed us to exhibit a collaborative piece. It was a fun challenge. I am looking forward to creating and showing future collaborations with Dan.

Miso's Journey: Colab between Robin and Dan

R: We all have plans for global domination. Please describe yours in three words.

C: Buy my artwork.

R: How did it feel to transition into doing your art fulltime?

C: It was definitely a big transition from what I knew and had been successful at for 14 years -- making drugs (legally, working for major pharmaceutical companies in the lab and in QA). The shift was tough and challenging -- initially I had moments of doubt and uncertainty in regards to my artwork. But then I managed to overcome these feelings through discipline and just spending lots of time working in the studio, listening to music and getting lost in the process of creating.

R: I hear tell that you can bust a mean set a moves in some Dance Dance Revolution. Are there any other hidden talents lurking under that reserved disposition of yours Mr. Coronel?

C: Honestly it is Dan Barry who’s got the major ninja moves for Dance Dance Revolution. No worries though! Sometimes folks do get us mixed up. To be honest, I am easily overwhelmed with video games that involve major multitasking i.e. loads of flashing lights, loud dance music, multiple quarter insertion, etc.

I am skilled at and enjoy working with animals. I volunteer at the Austin Humane Society, where I help train and socialize dogs so they are more readily adoptable. I also help train new volunteers on how to train the dogs -- so everyone is uniform and trains the dogs the same way.

At home we have two Italian greyhounds, Max and Frankie. I love those little guys. At times they are my muse and they can be found in some of my artworks.

R: Since the title of the show is SuperKickAss, give me an example of a time in which you kicked ass in super fashion.

C: My favorite and best SuperKickAss moment was finishing my first marathon side by side with my husband. He is my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Robin’s work will be part of the 5 person show, SuperKickAss, on view at WWA gallery curated by Industrial Squid, from January 21st until February 19th, 2011. For a preview of the show, go to http://www.wwagallery.com/upcoming.html and click on the link.


  1. Fabulous interview. Kick ass art. Max and Frankie are excellent muses and Dan is a perfect creative partner. Its wonderful to see where your art is going. I covet it.