Photos by Jesse Greene
The first time I heard the name Donkeeboy, my mind immediately panned to the scene in the Disney film Pinocchio where the confused wooden puppet-boy stuck in eternal life limbo escapes to Pleasure Island filled with “anything goes” philosophies. After drinking copious amounts of booze, playing pool, using excessive profanity and inhaling the fattest cigars known to puppet, Pinocchio starts laughing like a donkey and turns into a furry jackass. Fortunately for Alex Roman, he can drink as much booze as he likes without turning into a mythological creature.
Alex Roman is a Houston-bred pop artist, who briefly brewed in various other places such as Los Angeles and Mexico. He goes by the name Donkeeboy, which was a silly monkier he obtained at a training course for a job. Donkeeboy’s current studio resides in a warehouse in the East End with high ceilings, a screen printing factory and various seating for friends and family. He has earned his keep by providing for our city; a prime mover and pillar of our community. Some of his accomplishments include selling his piece “PACasso” at the Art Basel, signing on to a local art gallery and becoming the only resident artist for 8th Wonder Brewery.
One of my favorite idiosyncrasies about Roman’s studio is the section set aside for his mother, Sylvia Roman. Sylvia is also an artist and one of Roman’s biggest inspirations. While growing up, Roman would watch her paint and sell her work around the city they lived in. Her influence cultivated the phrase that they now personify: “like mother, like son.” They will be having a mother-son art show later this year.
His mother instilled the artistic bug in him at a young age. When Alex was seven, he won a competition in Mexico; this is when his passion started rapidly growing. One of the first pieces he created that he fully felt that he was expressing himself was the “Boob Tube.” The painting has a very sweet backstory. After listening to a Jack Johnson song, he heard him say “Boob Tube” and this sexually enigmatic pair of words stuck with him. This piece was created with his now deceased brother, Eric. The first time he sold it, he welled up and ended up selling and buying it back around seven or eight times. His mother now owns the piece, so it currently resides in very good hands.
Roman has his own specific process which has been refined after years of creating works, including live painting at various clubs, bars, pools halls and dance floors where people would run into him while doing the electric slide. His primary medium is latex paint, commonly referred to as house paint, which he sets with a household dryer. Roman likes to keep a dryer handy due to his restless nature and his impatience with painting. Many painters experience the therapeutic effects in the process of painting, but unfortunately, this is not the case for Roman. He’s always working in small details early in order to keep his motivation at its peak. The best part of painting for him is the completion of a fully fleshed-out product and the impact it leaves on the viewers.
Other artists Roman siphons inspiration from is of course his mother, Sylvia Roman, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. A small word of advice to young painters from Roman is to keep your projects a secret until the work is complete and to never give an expectation. The awe and surprise of a completed piece is what leaves a strong impression, and giving any expectations can detract from way the work is perceived overall.
Donkeeboy’s future projects will include the art shows he curates at 8th Wonder Brewery, which occur four times a year, as well as creating murals at various restaurants, and a monthly art party with Deep Eddy Vodka and 8th Wonder Brewery. The collaborative show with his mother will also have a traveling component that he will bring to Art Basel this year.
If you are interested in his work or future projects you can follow him on Instagram @donkeeboy.
Process to Product: Donkeeboy This was reposted for my personal reading use