Where were you born and raised?
Born in KCMO, raised in KCK in the Argentine District.
What is your family heritage?
Mom (born and raised in KCMO (the West Side) and Dad (born and raised in KCK (Argentine District). Both of Mexican decent and both born in the US. Grandparents: My grandmothers were both born in the US. Both my grandfathers were from Mexico, one from Tangancícuaro of Michoacán and the other from Lagos de Moreno of Jalisco.
What is your occupation?
Full Time: Before Covid, I was a Graphic Designer and Web Development Coordinator in the Marketing and Communications Department for Johnson County Park and Recreation District, but due to a furlough, my office found me a spot at the JoCo Elections Office processing voter registration applications until work picks up. Part Time: I am a Sports Artist and Comic Book and other property content creator during the evening and weekends. Lately, with the Mahomes craze it has been a 80/20 split with me working mostly on sports art over comic book work. In short, I am a Graphic Designer, Web Development Coordinator - full time, and a Sports Artist, Comic Book Creator, Designer - part time.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Hispanic/Latinx community?
When I was in school I was a member of an organization named HALO. One of the things HALO helped me understand was that there was a need to give back, and found that there were leaders out there in the KC area willing to help us students in some way - with funding, or with just chats about what they did to get to their level of their career. So in 1993 I created a Latino comic book character named AMIGOMAN™. Soon after I published a few of my AMIGOMAN™ books in both English and Spanish a few schools started to notice it and asked if I would come chat with the students about what I do. So from about the late 90's to the early 2000's I would visit schools and libraries in KCK, KCMO, Wichita and other cities about writing, storytelling, character design and other aspects of the production. The cool thing about my main character (Antonio F. Alvarado) AMIGOMAN™ is that his story is similar to many of the students I had come in counter with - many from a single parent family, lower to middle income, etc. Now I have never worked for Disney and Pixar but I try to explain to them that if they love something like drawing with hard work and a no quit attitude they could one day if they want to. Now in the past 6-7 years my sports art has started to get noticed, and its been a really cool experience. I have been asked to visit schools and have ZOOM meetings to share my art, the process and how much work it takes. In 2018 I was on the Board, the Featured Artist, donated artwork, and given a Mayoral Proclamation by Mayor David Alvey at the Latino Arts Festival of KCK. That event was to raise funds for artistic scholarships for local art students. Now throughout all this time, I have had the honor to not only meet students, teachers and parents of schools and organizations, but I have also had the honor to donate my time, comic books and prints of both my comic book and sports art to a help raise funds for a number of schools and other organizations linked to the hispanic communities. My goal one day is to set up a Latino scholarship fund for serious designers, painters and other creatives to further their education and reach their goals.
How do you connect with your Hispanic/Latinx culture?
Family, friends and art. I have family and friend roots on both sides of KC (KCMO and KCK) and having those connections I have been able to experience and celebrate a wide range of traditions about my culture - mass in Spanish, weddings, quinceaneras, Cursillos, Day of the Dead, etc. I am also connected with my culture in my work, whether its Day of the Dead art work or shows, visiting schools with my AMIGOMAN™ comic book work, my paintings of Latino athletes or painting of religious icons. I have been very fortunate that my art has been a great connector for me and my community.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
One of my favorite childhood memories is playing baseball with my brother on the street we grew up on in KCK. It didn't matter if it was a game against him with other neighborhood friends or if it was just him and myself playing catch. We couldn't afford to go to the Royals games, nor did we know many people who went to the games, so sometimes we would imagine being big leaguers in a game and one of us would be a pitcher and one would be a catcher trying to strike out an imaginary player.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Recognition, representation and celebration. Here in the US, this country was built on the blood sweat and tears of immigrants of all cultures, and recognizing and celebrating the Latino cultures is a step in the right direction. Just like other communities, the Latino community has contributed to this country in every aspect - education, military, athletics, government, food, art, music and more - and who knows what the future will bring? What I believe is that the future will be brighter as long as we keep learning, sharing, growing and pushing to be better people to make our children, parents and grandparents proud.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the Hispanic/Latinx community?
That's a tough one - because there are so many issues effecting the Hispanic/Latinx community. To me, one of the most important issues is education. Some believe the school system is broken, and they might be right. But if we make education important in our homes, we will see how it can change lives. Perhaps we may need to put more of an emphasis on education - with that said, I do not believe the burden fall just on the parents. I believe businesses, communities and other leaders need to create additional education outlets like study and tutoring centers that work with the schools to provide top level support and encouragement. I like the saying, "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."