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Passion Over Practicality: Alonzo Aguillio’s Artistic Mission

The percentage of high school students who attend art school after high school is small, and the number of them who build a promising career out of it is even smaller.  Despite the low success rate of such artistic endeavors, Alonzo Aguillio (‘20) is determined to pursue a creative vocation. Alonzo is quite a familiar […]

The percentage of high school students who attend art school after high school is small, and the number of them who build a promising career out of it is even smaller. 

Despite the low success rate of such artistic endeavors, Alonzo Aguillio (‘20) is determined to pursue a creative vocation.

Alonzo is quite a familiar face on campus seeing that he’s a part of more extracurriculars than you can count on one hand — Student Council, God Squad, Lasallian Ambassadors, the four year art program, Academic Decathlon, LSL, and YLA to name a few.  His art is also displayed on a plethora of Christian Brothers shirts that he has designed for different events over the years. 

“Oh yeah and ASB president…” Alonzo added nonchalantly. 

While seemingly a jack of all trades, Alonzo’s specialty is his art — something he’s had a natural born talent and passion for ever since he was little. 

“My mom told me that I could pick up a pencil before I could pick up a fork. I couldn’t even feed myself, but I could draw,” he shared. “I was always just drawing and cutting up paper and making stuff out of it, and I remember every time we went to the store, I would always get a new sketchbook. I still have hundreds and hundreds of sketchbooks that aren’t even completely filled up.”

Even as young as five years old, Alonzo would enthusiastically depict animals and characters inspired by children’s television shows. More than a decade later, Alonzo channels the fictitious and animated interests of his early childhood into a feasible art style and career choice.

“I want to pursue drawing and storyboarding for cartoons and animated movies. I don’t really like drawing real people or real things and proportions because it’s harder and it’s also not as interesting to me. I’ll do it, but I honestly like drawing stuff that isn’t real, stuff you can’t see everyday — cartoons, Pixar movies, robots, aliens, monsters, explosions, superheroes— that kind of stuff.”

Alonzo often got in trouble in elementary school for drawing during class. But the Christian Brothers art program has provided him with the much-needed encouragement and freedom to express his creativity and practice his art. 

Mrs. Christine Kerr in particular became a crucial mentor for Alonzo by teaching him the necessary information for pursuing art in college and by holding him to standards of diligent effort and precise time management. 

“She’s possibly the best thing that could have happened for my art career,” Alonzo says. “She helps us not only make our art by giving us all the freedom to do so, but she also keeps us moving and has taught us how to evaluate our art — not just pick out what’s wrong with it, but pick out what we’re proud of and what the meaning and purpose behind it” 

By practicing and perfecting his artistic technique throughout his life, Alonzo has since learned to be more particular and calculated with his process.

“I honestly used to just look at things and draw them from how I see them, and it’d be fine, but it’d be out of proportion or it wouldn’t quite fit on the page,” he says. “Now I need to draw a diagram and maybe a small stretch of how the things fits on the screen.” 

Alonzo brainstorming ideas for his next art piece during his E set Advanced Painting.

Perhaps one of the most difficult and discouraging challenges about being an artist is fulfilling what seems to be an insatiable need for inspiration.

“If I’m ever just not inspired, you know what I draw?” Alonzo says rhetorically with a boastful grin. “I go back to Pokémon all the time. They’re so easy to draw… there’s so many of them, they’re so interesting. It’s fun because they’re not quite animals — they’re on that realm of imagination and fantasy.”

For many, the bridge between high school and college becomes a gravesite for abandoned passions and dwindling hobbies as students begin their search for a more practical career. Although pleased with not having to give up his artistic aspirations so quickly, Alonzo still grapples with the risk of such an unconventional career choice. 

On one hand, he appreciates the opportunity to escape the redundant bore of math and science classes and instead engage in the immense course variety that his career choice has to offer. But he still struggles with the competitiveness of the art field. 

“You think you’re good at something and you make something you’re really proud of, but then you see 20 other versions of it that are way better than yours and you feel kinda crappy about it,” the senior says. “It’s always a fight.”

Regardless of the minor discouragement that is evoked by the competition of other talented artists, Alonzo still continues to grow in his work and cherishes the many lessons art has taught him. 

“I’ve really learned that there’s no right or wrong way. Everyone says that, but its true. There are technical things about it, like value, color, rhythm, but honestly, there’s no wrong way to do it. Sometimes you’ll find that a piece doesn’t even look particularly complex, but that one piece could be mastering one area of art and that’s just as worthwhile.”

Mrs. Kerr describes Alonzo as “intrinsically motivated” and someone who “consistently pushes himself to the best he can.” Even with a distinctive style, she remarks on his ability to fearlessly try new things by experimenting with different media and techniques. 

“He’s been talking about animation for as long as I’ve known him, and I believe that’s where he is going to go. I think he has the work ethic as well as the skills to make that happen. But at the same time, I think he’ll have opportunities to do other things too, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes,” Mrs. Kerr adds in regards to her student’s limitless potential. 

Sketches of a few of Alonzo’s classmates at Christian Brothers High Scool.

Alonzo intends to apply to San Francisco’s Academy of Art, The Rhode Island School of Design, San Jose State, Chico State and the University of San Francisco to further his education in art. But Alonzo is still keeping his options open by creating a backup plan and not feeling obligated to stay in California.

“If I wasn’t doing art, I’d be going into psychology or child development or something like that. I like to talk, I like people and I feel like conversation flows naturally so I could capitalize on that,” Alonzo shared.

He then gave insight to the triad of life components that fuel his passion and inspiration towards art and his bigger life goals. 

“As for inspiration, I think what I watch, what I enjoy doing and what I listen to all go hand in hand. When you watch a movie, you’re not only watching what’s on the screen, but the music and dialogue are also helping to create that one piece. Music also helps to influence my art because I have an emotional connection to it. So if the music is there, the dialogue is great, then the art is amazing — those three components make up what I want to do in life.” 

As a close friend since freshman year, Daniel Larsen-Anderson (‘20), elaborated on Alonzo’s unique personality and stimulating way of thinking. 

“Alonzo has all these creative passions, and they’re really apparent even in the simple things he does. Whenever he’s there hanging out with all of our friends, we’re always talking about something interesting. He knows how to bring up something that will get the rest of us thinking and talking. He knows what gets other people’s minds working, and I think that in part comes from the creative way of thinking that he implements throughout his life.” 

Alonzo conversing with his CB friends Danny Buckner (’20) and James Pauly (’20).

Of many people who grow up only to wish they had pursued their passions regardless of economic practicality, Alonzo will be one of the fortunate few who will be able to say he did so without regrets.

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