Q & A with Edwin Fontánez

Q & A with Edwin Fontánez

What led you to create Exit Studio?

It really happened naturally. Mostly because I wanted to write the stories I never heard when I was a little boy. It has also become the cocoon that encompasses my personal and artistic ambitions. It’s a place where I can create any fantastic setting or reinvent my point of view at my pleasure. But then again, that’s every artist’s goal. The name itself—Exit—comes from my childhood misunderstanding that it meant the same as “exito” (“success” in Spanish).  It became symbolic of a child’s unfiltered way of seeing the world.

What is the most enjoyable part of creating works for children?

The fact that to write for a child, I have to become one too is a big motivation. I still feel like I’m eight so the transformation is not as far-fetched as it might seem.

What things did you like to do as a child?

Play with mud and light matches (how’s that for the “formative” years?). Of course, those experiences came in handy later with my cooking skills. As a child, I don’t remember being obsessed with toys although some of them sparked my curiosity. I remember infuriating my father one Christmas morning when he found the beautiful plastic riding horse he had given me lying on its side with its “guts” cut wide open. He took it as an act of total disregard but for me it was maybe the best compliment I could pay him. He repaired cars for a living and I always remembered him working under the hood. I was just trying to find out how the horsey “worked.”

What inspires your creativity?

My personal goal is to create honest, meaningful work that has relevance. I am not interested in following trends or chasing money. That may not be the wisest business tactic but I’m sincere when I say that whenever I revisit an old work, I want to still take pleasure and pride in what I’ve done. Sales reports are nice but the reward is when my little neighbor Fiona (2 years old) drives her parents crazy with repeated requests to read “On This Beautiful Island” to her at bedtime.

What do you miss about Puerto Rico?

Everything. The mountains, the clouds, and re-adjusting to the craziness of island life that still brings me comfort at being part of the culture. I listen to recordings of the evening sounds and terribly miss sitting around a table with my friends sharing a meal, wine, and conversation.

What do you like to do when you are not writing and drawing?

When I’m not writing and drawing, I’m thinking about writing and drawing, wondering when the next “creative upheaval” is going to strike. It seems innocent enough but it’s actually unsettling, like knowing you’ll be called for jury duty but you don’t know when. I also think about how to approach future projects to separate myself from the herd intellectually and artistically. Then of course, I also invest a great deal of my life babysitting a very possessive clique of cats who expect me to police “territorial issues,” personalize feedings, provide entertainment, and most of all, be a good listener.

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