When our good fam friend Joe Buckner asked his cousin, artist Domonique Gonzales to customize his Henry Mid Canvas with portraits of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Tupac Shakur and sent us photos of the finished artwork, we were blown away. After seeing the detail work of these hand-painted beauties, we knew immediately that we wanted to work with Domonique on a project. We asked her if she'd be interested in customizing a few pairs of the Henry Mid Canvas in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement and she said yes!

Domonique is working on those profile pieces as we speak, and we'll be sharing that artwork EOM. In the meantime, we had a chance to chat with her and get to know more about her passion for painting, her process, and what inspires Domonique in this week's Everyday Fighter journal spotlight...

TAMI KIRLIS, VP OF MARKETING AT YORK ATHLETICS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

DOMONIQUE GONZALES: I am Domonique Gonzales, a 28-year-old mother and wife born and raised In Fort Collins, Colorado. I have 4 kids, 3 boys and 1 girl, they are wild and keep me on my toes. My husband is epileptic and disabled and I care for him and also work alongside him in our screen printing shop. When I’m not working or painting I spend my time gardening or fishing with my family. I also try to squeeze in time to read a couple of times a week.

TAMI/YORK: When did your passion for painting start and what is your creative process like? For example, do you have pre-painting rituals to set the stage so to speak, do you listen to music to get in the groove, do you need to paint alone, etc.

DOMONIQUE: My passion for painting began when I was young kid, I remember being so excited for art class as a kid. My mom still has all the drawing and paintings I used to make her when I was in elementary school all the way through high school. However, I think that it really became a more important part of my life when my cousin passed away, I found that my art was a way that I could release and relay my emotions and also help to heal myself and others. I found that to be a powerful and profound thing.

My creative process is pretty relaxed. I don’t like painting on an easel, I never really have. I honestly prefer the kitchen table, which I’m pretty sure I’ve ruined with paint, or the floor! I always play music when I paint, and it is random, it usually starts with 90s country and I almost always end up on rap music. When painting portraits I do paint in a specific order, I always start with the left eye, then the nose, then the mouth, then the right eye. I’ve tried different orders but for some reason it doesn’t work for me, it has to be in that order. I also won’t push myself if I'm losing motivation -- I feel like you can see it in my work if I’m forcing it so I just don't.

TAMI/YORK: When did you start painting portraits, and what is it about portrait work you think is interesting?

DOMONIQUE: I started painting portraits in high school. I love to look at people. I feel like everybody's face has a story and I like to be the one to show it. I find the small details make all the difference and it’s the gleam in one person’s eye or the crooked smile of the next that is interesting to me. As I’m painting these portraits, I find myself wondering about the person’s life, the things that make them unique, and what they live/lived for. The small details that bring the portraits to life shape the personality and emotions of the person and it's my responsibility to relay them accurately. By the time I finish a painting, I definitely feel connected to the person because I took the time to get to know the small details of them. Isn’t that what we learn about other people as we get to know them? It’s the small details that build those connections.

TAMI/YORK: How did you get into the sneaker game?

DOMONIQUE: I have painted portraits for around 10 years now but the first time I actually painted a portrait on a shoe was when my cousin Joe asked me to put portraits on his pair of Henry Mid Canvas [side note – Joe Buckner is a very close friend of YORK Athletics]. I loved the idea of wearing art and customizing shoes that way, it was something I had wanted to do and when the opportunity presented itself I took it. Plus, the shoe was the perfect canvas!

TAMI/YORK: Is there a person in your life who inspires you, whether it’s a friend, family member, someone you know in the community, or someone famous? Who is it and why do they inspire you?

DOMONIQUE: I’m inspired by a lot of people, but one person stands out for me and that’s Maya Angelou. One of her quotes is: “I’ve learned people will forget what you've said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That is something I always remember because it reminds me to think of how my words or actions will affect the people around me. Will I leave this person with the memory of good or bad feelings? I find this so important, especially in the times that we are living in. I want to leave people better than I found them.

TAMI/YORK: We talk about our community being #everydayfighters in the sense that they understand that hard work and hustle are what makes things happen. How do you relate to the word fighter and what motivates/drives your hustle?

DOMONIQUE: Fighter is a word that resonates with me because it’s something I have learned to be. My Husband was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015. He became disabled and lost his job. At the time, I was in school part time and home with our kids for most of my time. He lost his job because of his disability and I left school and started working full time as a waitress to make ends meet. We quickly realized this was not going to work for our family so we decided to start our own business. We knew it was not going to be easy, but we needed to make a future for our kids, so we spent many long days and late nights learning how to screen print. We also learned how to work with vinyl and sublimation. We continue to learn new techniques and formulas every day to stay current and keep our business growing.

TAMI/YORK: How important is community to you and your business

DOMONIQUE: Community is a huge part of our business. We started our business as a way to support our family, but also as a way to help our community. We try to work with small businesses and independent artists with customized branding. We try to offer the best price possible as well as having up front pricing and we do not require a minimum order. We also offer no cost fund raising for struggling small businesses, artists, local churches and even families in need. That is, after all, what started our business - we were a family in need.

TAMI/YORK: What role does positivity play in your life?

DOMONIQUE: Positivity plays a huge role in my life as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, and even to myself. I have learned that it is not always easy to remain positive in all situations, but fighting for and striving to be positive is the only way I want to make it through this life. Sometimes it’s easy, other times I find myself on my knees praying and asking god to help me see the good in things, and through his grace and my perseverance I remain positive. I just hope that if am positive, it will rub off on my friends and kids and family and they rub off on the next person and so on and so forth because that’s what our world needs right now.

Domonique Gonzales is an artist living in Fort Collins, Colorado. To check out more of her amazing artwork or connect directly, check out her Instagram @create_with_niqque

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