A Southern California native, Emilio Villalba received his BFA from the Art Institute of California in 2006, and his MFA in Painting from the Academy of Art University in 2011. He currently lives in San Francisco where he teaches at the Art Institute of California and Cogswell College.


Asked by COG's staff about his art, Emilio said: "My portraits are inspired by master works, as well as the contemporary human condition. They explore the dissonance created when the familiar is fractured and distorted by outside influence." 






COG: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I have always been interested in art, but what I truly wanted to be, was a musician in a band. Velvet Underground inspired. 


COG: How did you become you instead?

I think being in a band would have been great, but it's always been hard for me to collaborate with others on design. So... making art (paintings) was an easy way to have complete creative control. There will always be outside influence, but in the end, I will be resolving problems on my own.


COG: Fave lesser-known hero (personal or fictional)?

David Bowie. Known now, he was once an underdog. Hard worker, virtuoso.


COG: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your work; the least?

Most enjoyable... creating. Least enjoyable... deadlines.


COG: If you were a hybrid, what would your two halves be?

Part David Bowie, part Adam Ondra.


COG: Describe a teacher, student or colleague you hated (or hate, you big meanie); why?

People who don't want to listen.


COG: In desktop publishing, a character tag is embedded code defining the style of a word or phrase. But in the literary lexicon, “character tags” refer to fictional characters’ habits, catch phrases or other distinguishing marks: Yoda’s syntax. Hello Kitty’s bow. Clint Eastwood’s rugged squint. What’s your character tag?

Don't think I have an answer... :( You tell me?


COG: What’s the last thing that made you laugh, cry or cuss?

My friend Jason makes me laugh, I cry when my girlfriend writes me a love letter, and I cuss every day when I paint.


COG: Describe your ideal road trip.

Pink. Floyd.


COG:  What problem, large or small, are you hell-bent on solving?

I'm not so much concerned with solving problems... I'm more concerned with How to work them.