Artesanias Rockeras Honduras
HMA: Can you tell us about yourself and how you started to work as a woodcarver?
Gabriel Rodriguez: Everything started as a hobby when I was a kid, but I think now that I always had the passion for woodwork in my blood; that plus a certain amount of initiative and creativity. I was born and raised in San Lucas, a small town south of the capital Tegucigalpa. It’s a very rural community with scarce job opportunities and my family had limited economic resources. As a kid I started making my own toys to play with using some of my Dad’s tools, pieces of wood, and some other materials I would come across. Since then I’ve always maintained a passion for woodwork. I’ve done other work with government jobs focusing on local and national social conditions, but this art has always been what I love to do. I never took any classes or had any formal training, but my work is a result of years of being self-taught and lots of trial and error.
HMA: How did you get to work with rock and metal related themes?
Gabriel Rodriguez: As a teenager I started to listen to rock music but this has grown into a strong passion. It took a long time for me to realize the combination of my creativity and love for woodwork and my devotion to Rock. I have to give credit to my two younger brothers, Vianney and Noé. It was in the middle of the year 2009 when I was making typical crafts (landscapes carved in wood, animals, carts, etc.) but my brothers took advantage of the tools and materials that I started collecting and they made necklaces with the logos of different bands. At first I wanted to give them a hard time about this, but I ended up making some pieces with the logo for a Spanish rock band Tierra Santa and then later pieces about a Honduran rock band called Delirium. I was pretty happy with how they came out and ended up sending some pictures to Delirium’s website. I got great feedback from their fans and began taking on requests for custom work. I had started out messing around making toys for myself but it grew into having public support for my work.
We started promoting our art, going to concerts in Honduras and selling our work. Little by little we’ve have the opportunity to get to know the rock community in Honduras and have had the support of so many rock bands here. With the help and support of friends, we’ve been able to have interviews on TV, radio, and the web. It’s been with so much emotion and motivation for what we do that some of our pieces have been published on Facebook pages for national and international artists like Nick Menza, Erick Greif, Mago de Oz, Barón Rojo, Allan Martin, and Delirium.
There is a cultural stigma here in Honduras that we come up against. People are very conservative where we live and rock music is associated with drug consumption, alcohol, Satanism, etc. While we’ve had great support from some, we’ve also had to hide our work from many. Our art includes works inspired by ‘Cannibal Corpse’ and their records ‘Butchered at Birth’, ‘The Wretched Spawn’, ‘Tomb of the Mutilated’. Works like those cannot be processed by people in our community, but they have also been our favorites and challenged us the most as artists. It has been difficult to love something so much and not be able to share it with everyone.
HMA: What is your technique like? Specific types of wood or tools?
Gabriel Rodriguez: Our specialty is creating art focused on rock. The product starts with pencils and scratch-work but then moves to using pyrography. Everything from start to finish is done manually. We do use power tools, however all our work is guided by our hands and we take great care in our art. Specifically, we use a surfacer, miter saw, table saw, band saw, belt, orbital, and drum sanders, routers, drills, air compressor, and pyrography.
We strive to ensure that our work is made by combining different varieties of wood, which gives us a range of colors from the light yellow, red, brown, pink, green; and so come as close as possible to the colors of the original images. We make little use of artificial colors; dyes are used only in special cases and for moldings of the frames of some parts. Among the kinds of wood that we use are: cedar, mahogany, Matasano, gravilea, quebracho, pine, avocado, mango, laurel which we get in our community or surrounding communities. The finishing of our product is not at all fine or rustic. The finishes are made using transparent polyurethane lacquers in bright tones, glossy or matte. We only manufacture job orders from customers, with an option to customize them according to their tastes.
HMA: A lot of artists use computers programs to help release their creativity. Is incredible that there still craftsman like yourself out there keeping tangible art alive.
Gabriel Rodriguez: Technology in the production is amazing. And perhaps many of the jobs that we do can be done in less time and with higher quality with modern equipment. To cite an example: some time ago we made a piece manually using pyrography. It was to replicate the cover of the album Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin and it took approximately 40 hours to complete. If we had access to a laser tool operated by computer, it wouldn’t have even taken one hour and could’ve been done with finer details. In such a situation we cannot compete, but our customers value more the fact that work is being made by hand and crafted in a traditional manner, which can also be customized and be unique in the world. In other words, it is impossible to produce two hand-made works exactly the same.
HMA: I see that a lot of your work is taken from existing material, have you been commissioned to do something more specific for an band?
Gabriel Rodriguez: Our supply is based largely on existing works, focusing on the lovers and fans of the rock, so that it is manufactured with a vision of tribute. We do not yet have the honor to make a unique piece for any band, but we hope that someday we will be asked to do something. Some fans have asked us to create works to deliver to Honduran and international bands. Those pieces have been manufactured and customized especially for them. Some of our works have been given to Honduran artists and foreigners. Among Hondurans we can mention: Delirium, Dream Warrior, Engendro, Vendetta, Requiem, Blasfemia, Perturbación, Horgkomostropus, Holocausto, Allan Martin.
At the international level there are:
- Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian, Germany)
- Gerry Beckley (America, USA)
- Txus (Mago de Oz, Spain)
- Juan Gallardo (Ángeles del Infierno, Spain)
- Armando de Castro (Barón Rojo, Spain)
- Transmetal (Mexico)
- Coda (Mexico)
- Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse, USA)
- Adrian Méndez (Fortuna Fugaz, Guatemala)
- Álvaro Aguilar (Alux Nahual, Guatemala)
- George Lynch (Dokken, USA)
- Sigh of Emptiness, (Costa Rica)
- Gólgota, (Costa Rica)
- Nick Menza (Megadeth, USA)
- Enrique Bunbury (Spain)
- Erick Greif (Manager Death to All, USA)
- Rick Rozz (Death, Massacre, USA)
Artesanías Rockeras Honduras is a small business started by my two brothers Vianney and Noé Rodríguez. Our shop is located in San Lucas, 90 km outside of Tegucigalpa. However, we are able to ship products nationally and internationally. We’d like to thank our friends and family: everybody who has supported us from the start and those who support us now, those that have trusted our work, and given us the opportunity to express our passion. Live long!!!!
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All Rights Reserved.