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The Writer Turned Artist: An Interview with Germain Celis-Bonilla

by Oscar PerezI

I got a chance to interview local artist, Germain Celis-Bonilla, this past October to ask him about his journey in the art world. He is unique in the way that he approaches creating his art pieces because he starts with writing a description of the piece. We sat down to talk about his journey into the arts, the inspiration behind his work, the process and his vision for where he wants this journey to lead him. 

Oscar: Germain, thanks for meeting up with me to share your story with us. What are you up to right now? Any current projects?

Germain: Hey man, thank you, right now I’m working on some portraits of my family as part of a project. I also created an account on recently to print my art on tee shirts, mugs, stickers, and more!

 That’s great man! What type of products are you focused on?

I want to see how the tee shirts print then go from there. 

That’s great! Let’s go back in time. Tell me, when was the first time you remember being creative?

Art or drawing itself started in the 7th grade. I had never had an art class up until middle school.  I remember I had gym class on my schedule and decided to go to the counselor’s office to change that to an art class. That’s basically what happened! Ha-ha. I had never experimented with drawing or painting up until then. Our first assignment was to take a wallet size photo and make it into a full 8×10 art piece. I sent that first piece to my Godmother in San Antonio. I think she still has it.

Was there someone in your family that inspired the arts in your life?

Drawing and painting came from my mom’s side of the family. My mom has a photo album of all my birthdays and all the décor was made by her during those birthdays. I have photos of those parties and I can’t believe she made some of those pieces. She also created party décor for my Aunts as well for baby showers, parties, etc. 

As far as art goes, would you say you are self-taught or took classes for it?

During 7th and 8th grade I learned a lot in class but never did I think of myself as an artist. My teacher asked me if I wanted to join the art club at that time and I went to one out of 20 meetings. Ha-ha!

Wow! So mostly all your skill has been self-taught! When did you start developing the skill outside the art classroom?

I remember that during my senior year at Cigarroa High School we did a Christmas gift exchange and I was asked what I wanted. I never answered the question. For my secret Santa gift, I received a sketchbook, pencils, erasers, pastel chalks. I remember I started experimenting with it that next day during lunch. I drew a portrait of an older lady that day. 

A lot of your work is very thoughtful. If I asked you what your style is, what would you say it is?

I have to write and think about what I’m going to draw. One common thing you see in my work is that when I draw I want to relate to everyone. It’s more of me relating to everyone through every piece. When I write I don’t like using the word “I”, I like using the words “WE” or “US”. I draw pieces that are related to everyone. My latest piece is titled “CRECHE”.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your art work?

Whenever I am watching a TV show, a movie or reading a book some words have a ring to it and they just stick to my head. I write them down but before that I picture myself writing them down which leads to me picturing myself drawing something out of it. When I write it’s like I’m describing the drawing. I use my text to draw what I imagine.

What’s your preferred medium to create art?

I use my IPad right now to create digital art. I also do some paper but it’s more personal. 

With you being on a digital platform is it a lot faster to create more pieces?

Yes. It’s easier and faster because if you make a mistake you can just UNDO. Ha-ha. When I draw on paper I can’t simply “UNDO”. Ha-ha. 

What’s the biggest obstacle you face when it comes to creating art?

I think the obstacle is finding the dedication for every piece I draw. To me drawing something has to have meaning behind it. I have to have a reason for drawing it. If I force myself to draw I would probably get tired of it and leave it there for a bit and come back to it. If I have a reason to relate to someone I will push myself to get it done that day before I go to sleep. 

Once you get the inspiration and get past the obstacle do you have a routine you follow to create?

I have to have music and I mainly draw at night. There’s a total of 6 people in my house and its kind of chaotic during the day. It’s usually at night when I get to draw and music plays an important role in it because I put my headphones on and get moving on the drawing. 

What advice would you give an artist that is struggling to put themselves out there?

If someone out there is doing it, you can do it to. I say this because if I see other people drawing and posting stuff then I know I can do it myself. 

Where can they find your work?

Mainly I post on Instagram under @PieceofaPoet and Tumblr. They can also find my work on the Red Bubble website which is on my Instagram profile.

What’s your vision for your art? What do you hope to accomplish with it?

I just want to reach more people. I want to hear what they think and how they interpret the drawings. When they say something really different than what I thought about when drawing it, I’m glad because they made it their own. It’s eye opening because everyone is living through different situations and interprets the drawings in a different way. 

If it’s the first time someone came across your art work which piece would you want them to see?

The first piece that held a deep meaning for me is a piece called Blood Clot. I shared it back in August. They can check it out on social media. 

One last question. Why do you go by “PieceOfAPoet”? 

The name PieceOfAPoet is a group of words that describe the two sides of me, both the writer and the artist. Piece as in my art and poet for my writings.

I love it man! Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share your journey with us! Your story will inspire others to get moving on their journey. 

Don’t forget to follow Germain on Instagram @PieceofAPoet to keep up to date with his journey in the art world.

– Oscar Perez

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