We had the good fortune of connecting with Joe Ray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joe, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process was this: I like doing this. I’m good at it and people have been collecting my art for years, let me grow this.
This was a switch in mindset for me. I had been a fine artist for several years and had been exhibiting in shows around town, as well as in other states, but it was in the last few years that I realized that I was running another business. This is in addition to my mainstay business; Maximo Branding, which my wife and I own and operate.
The passion of doing my art and being able to explore new mediums and styles is what drove me to treat my art as a business. Put it like this, the realization that every artist is a small business owner dawned on me. I think if I had taken it through the steps, we (Maximo) take a new client through, I would have realized this much sooner.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My visual art is colorful, it reflects my inner thoughts and my culture. I reincarnate through colors and imagery. Most of the images and iconography are Corazones (hearts); what does it mean when you say a person has heart? Plus, hearts are about love, lust, desire, and passion.
Another set of images I work with are Sirenas (mermaids), they’re voluptuous creatures who live in the desert as well as the ocean. And they like wine.
And there are the Luchadores (masked Mexican wrestlers). Their masks are their personality and character and also contain their super powers. I’ve been a Lucha Libre fan since I was a kid.
In addition to being a visual artist, I’m infatuated with the art of storytelling. I enjoy this because you get to paint and create with word pictures. You frame and color through the telling of a tale.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In the Phoenix area, we’d start with the Desert Botanical Gardens, which is conveniently close to my home/studio. Mexican food would be on the menu quite often, whether Cocina Madrigal in South Phoenix, or some other birria place along south 7th Street. Barrio Café is colorful and delicious, and has great margaritas. In Scottsdale, we’d do some wine tasting at Carlson Creek, then head back into Phoenix for after dark taco truck bites. There are a number of places in between that are good for people watching as well.
If the weather isn’t oppressively hot, a hike in the Superstitions is a must. Going out of town would include a trip to Parker (where I grew up) in western Arizona to have a bite and a drink on a dock bar on the Colorado River. From there north to Sedona, Flagstaff, etc. Then venture down Tucson way and find our way to Kartchner Caverns, the Chiracahuas, etc.
The beauty of Arizona is that you can drive in any direction and have a new experience each time. Just don’t wander out alone in the desert in July…
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family was always supportive of my efforts as a kid. And a high school art teacher, Claude Thorn pushed me to go to college, and for his advice I am eternally grateful. I have a BFA in graphic design from Arizona State University, though I didn’t do much art while in college, I did learn to be creative and to problem solve.
After college is when I began doing my art. My inspiration and support came from a group of Chicano artists in a group called MARS which I hung around with after joining the organization and gallery. The talent, tenacity, knowledge and desire that these artists had rubbed off on me and inspired me.
Plus, the competitive and creative nature in the design and advertising field also pushed me along as well.