SAN DIEGO -- Versatile, multi-medium artist Clarione Gutierrez impresses audiences and buyers alike, showing prowess in graphic design, caricatures, fashion and his Launch Live Art, a local booking and contracting agency.
Born and raised in sunny San Diego, Gutierrez has a seemingly inherent knack for the visual arts, part of which he jokingly attributes to a trip to the renowned San Diego Zoo. But his versatility transcends the title of “artist,” as his talent is as engaging live as it is in a studio.
Add to his artistic leanings a rare, insightful perspective and an eloquent way of voicing his opinions. He had some very keen observations to share with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about his early introduction to drawing, his participation in Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better Project,” and his dreams for the LGBT community.
Hometown: San Diego
Single or taken: Single
How many years have you been in San Diego?
I grew up in San Diego. But in the last 10 years, I've also lived in L.A. (one year), New York (three years) and the San Francisco/Bay Area (one year).
Did San Diego influence your art or style and, if so, how?
Well, my heart is in San Diego and passion comes from the heart. San Diego is a part of me, and the experiences I've had here fuel my art. Funny enough, I discovered my talent for drawing back in second grade, right after we came back from a field trip to the San Diego Zoo and our teacher asked us to draw our favorite animal. I drew six animals. So literally, a part of San Diego did influence my art!
Who is the artist or designer you’re dying to work with?
David Bromstad . He's amazingly talented and has a great eye. He's also incredibly funny and nice. I would LOVE the chance to work together.
To say that you’re versatile sounds like an understatement - fashion, graphic design, caricatures, helping operate a live art company - what does a typical day look like for you?
Each day is different. My main focus is operating Launch Live Art, which entails all the booking, contracting, and development of our services. Then I'll probably work at an event (if there is one that day). I usually do 2-3 events a week, doing live art. Then I also dedicate a lot of time to HRC because I sit on the Steering Committee here in San Diego. Then there are all my personal projects, which are typically commissioned paintings, designing a logo or flyer, and drawing a published comic strip. If I'm lucky, i can squeeze in a happy hour.
Did you have one “moment” or time in your life when you knew immediately you had to pursue your artistic passions?
Growing up, art was my reputation. In school, everyone knew me as "the artist". I took on every art job in school, from designing event banners to being the cartoon editor of my school newspaper. My senior year of high school, I got a job as a caricaturist and that's what started my professional career.
What are your most important personal satisfactions and dissatisfactions connected with being an artist?
The biggest satisfaction is being able to inspire others to create. We all are aware how the arts are dying in our school systems, so kids are getting less exposure to art. If someone who sees me perform feels encouraged to pick up a pencil, that is rewarding in itself. The most dissatisfying thing about being an artist is probably when people under-value your work, or feel inclined to tell you how much they think it's worth. The most incredible thing is when someone tells me how amazing my work is and sings my praises. But when they ask how much it costs, they question why it costs so much (and I price my work very moderately).
What’s a little piece of trivia we don’t know about you Clarione?
I'm a huge James Dean fan. I'm also really good at "Wheel Of Fortune."
We stumbled upon a Youtube video giving a touching addition to the It Gets Better Project - what inspired you to take part and what does It Gets Better mean personally to you?
I feel like everyone has a story to share and you never know who needs to hear it. We all have insecurities and struggles, and when we're being bullied for them it's really easy to see how much worse it can be. Unfortunately, it shadows any hope you may have of things actually getting better. I'm sure most of us can testify that after you overcome those obstacles, there is definitely sunshine after the rain. These videos do help and the It Gets Better Project is one of the greatest things to ever happen. Since I've posted that video (along with other videos), I've gotten responses from people who have thanked me for encouraging them to come out or at the least, realize that life is worth living. I would have never imagined that my story and visibility could actually help someone, and I'm very grateful that it has.
What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?
I would like to see the younger generation be more engaged with local organizations and do things to actually help build our community. I would like to see less judgment, stigmas, discrimination, and deprecation WITHIN our community. I would like to see the "LGBT" dropped off because eventually, it won't matter, and we can just be a community.
What do you like most about the local LGBT community?
I love that it's small enough that all the business owners and organizations know each other, so it feels communal. I love that it's not as crazy as West Hollywood. I love that people are nice. We also have a perfect score in HRC's Municipal Equality Index, which means we're doing something right.
If you could host a dinner party and invite three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?
Dan Savage, Brian Brown (president of the anti-gay hate group, National Organization for Marriage), and Jesus Christ. Now THAT would be entertaining. I'm sure we'd be able to settle some arguments there.
VIDEO: Clarione’s contribution to the It Gets Better Project.