“This book is a love letter to El Paso.”
Raul the Third is an El Paso native who shows the love for his hometown through his artwork, as you can see in his Pura Belpré Award winning book, “Lowriders in Space.”
Raul grew up in the border and even now, while living in Boston, he still has a love for these two sister cities. If you ask Raul what he does at El Chuco when he visits his first answer is “to visit my parents.” Something that he loves to do while in town is to walk around Downtown El Paso all the way to the bridge and walking on over to Juarez, maybe even pay a visit to the Mercado Cuauhtémoc. Raul’s art speaks for his love of his hometown, a place he calls unique, safe, and full of culture. Raul believes that El Paso is the city of the future.
Raul is going to be visiting soon to talk about his book “Lowriders in Space,” where the world of the characters is heavily influenced by his upbringing in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. You might ask yourself, how does he do that? If you pay close attention, you can find a restaurant called “Tortas Nico”, familiar to you Juarez natives, as well as many eloteros. You can also see a mountain with a Thunderbird that will leave you thinking of our beloved Franklin Mountains and a lot of nopales. Raul even included one of his characters whistling to “Noa Noa” by Juan Gabriel, and if that wasn’t enough to show his appreciation, he dedicated his book to Juanga!
As for the process of illustrating a children’s book, Raul is very grateful and appreciative of his team at Chronicle Books. Raul works closely with different editors and an art director to make the book happen. Of course, his collaborator, Cathy Campers, helps Raul create a cool script that goes along with what he feels inspired to illustrate. The illustrations for “Lowriders in Space” are unique because Raul decided to complete the entire book only using Bic ballpoint pens, something that anyone would be able to draw with.
For all you aspiring illustrators, Raul’s advice is to be truthful to representing yourselves and the community you grew up with above all else. He believes that people sharing their own stories is the perfect way for people to be passionate about their work. The art should be about people that you know, care, and love so that you can become invested in your work. Above all, representation is important, and it is up to us border natives to demonstrate our love for our city through our work so that others can learn about it.
Make sure to stop by for Raul’s book signing happening at Chuco Relic August 6 from 11 am to 2 pm!