On June 25, 2008, the Sunnyvale Sun and the Cupertino Courier featured an article on Angelo Lopez and his various artistic pursuits. Reprinted below is the article from the link http://www.mercurynews.com/cupertino/ci_9694670?nclick_check=1.
Lopez lives in a personal Louvre with his wife Lisa. Cartoons, paintings and drawings he has done over the years cover the walls, constant reminders of his lifelong passion for his craft. When he’s not working at the Sunnyvale Library, he lives the artist’s life: doodling ideas in his sketchbook, working on a new painting, or fine-tuning a political cartoon to be published later in the week.
It is a therapeutic and sometimes lucrative outlet for the Sunnyvale resident.
“I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of,” says Lopez.
His cartoons are currently published in Boston-based Z Magazine and in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Sunol and Union City. Lopez also has a creative side gig as the artist on the weekly programs for his church. Each week he draws humorous cartoons that encapsulate the broad theme of the week’s sermon at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
His cartoons are the products of the symbolism and hidden meanings he sees in life and everyday events.
One cartoon features far-left Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich being tied to a boulder and ready to be dropped in shark-infested waters by a few Tony Soprano mafia types. These large men represent MSNBC executives, and this was Lopez’s twist on the cable news network uninviting Kucinich from a January debate between clear front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Lopez prefers political cartoons with messages that are broader in scope, as he believes it says something more substantial. He describes his style as one that is succinct, specific and humorous.
“He has a great sense of humor,” said Diana Yu Johnson, president of the Sunnyvale Art Club. “His cartoons make him stand out from the rest.”
Timeliness, Lopez feels, also hurts his ability to sell his work because cartoons have a short shelf life.
Lopez’s ideas come about in a flash from something he sees or from doodling in a sketchbook. Sometimes these flashes of inspiration come from unlikely sources.
“I read the news a lot, but a lot of my ideas come from letters to the editor because there’s a lot of passion that comes out. When you’re doing cartoons, it’s good to work with a strong point of view.”
Lopez is particularly fond of his Uncle Sam caricature. Lopez feels his take on the American symbol is unique to the cartooning landscape.
“I like my Uncle Sam to be a more average, befuddled kind of guy. Other cartoonists try to make him out to be a sort of evil imperialist out to do bad things, but I see him as an average American Joe who isn’t in control. Things are just happening to him.”
An April 2008 issue of Z Magazine used one of his Uncle Sam caricatures on the cover. The cartoon featured Sam, sitting with his trademark hat out, panhandling for money. Documents with current government expenditures written on them are held out as Sam’s dog howls in frustration.
“It’s a sentimental favorite,” Lopez says.
After graduating from San Jose State University in 1992, Lopez found immediate interest in his skills. He illustrated three children’s books throughout the 1990s for small publishers. While the books were not immensely successful, the experience made Lopez appreciate the simplicity of the single-panel cartoons he specializes in.
“You want the cartoon to catch their attention instantly. I want them to quickly get the point, and they either laugh or they don’t.”
Lopez identifies himself as politically liberal, but prefers to see his cartoons as a way of championing the little guy on issues such as the economy rather than pushing a left or right political agenda.
“I want to make sure the little guy doesn’t get hurt along the boom and bust cycles. It’s why Uncle Sam is portrayed as sort of an average Joe,” he says.
Lopez draws about three or four cartoons a week that go for publication. Each cartoon takes a day to draw and then another day to ink. Two cartoons are submitted to the Tri-City Voice, and one each for Z Magazine and his church.
His art and influence can be found around the Santa Clara Valley. Last year he had a one-man show at Gallery Saratoga that featured dozens of his works. Lopez has painted murals for Lester Shields Elementary School in San Jose, the Berryessa branch of the San Jose Public Library, and the Sunnyvale Public Library. His illustrations have been published in South Bay Accent magazine, Tikkun magazine and the Palo Alto Daily.
Lopez, along with other members of the Sunnyvale Art Club, often does demonstrations on technique and holds contests in the community. The club meets every third Thursday of the month and provides Lopez with a pool of like-minded artists to network with.
“I wanted to be in a place with lots of artists and creativity,” he says. “I used to go to parties with engineers, and the things they would talk about would zoom over my head.”
The cartoonist still dreams of expanding upon his illustrating experiences and becoming a full-time, children’s book illustrator.
“It’s one of the few things I’m really good at,” he says. “If I could earn enough money to do this, I would do it forever.”