David Hernandez re-purposing everyday scraps into art gems
All art has unique ingredents. San Quentin resident David Hernandez creates sports logos and handbags from common materials that anyone else would consider useless and throw away. He has adopted the concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as an artistic credo.
“I learned these techniques so that I can stay busy and my time goes by faster,” said Hernandez. “It helps me to socialize with my peers inside prison. It is therapeutic. If I am doing nothing, I think that I will get sick.”
For Hernandez, creativity brings new life to elements as he uses instant rice and even eggs shells as his main ingredients to make sports insignias of basketball, football, baseball and soccer teams.
The artist says that limits to creativity do not apply to him. His ideas come from requests he receives from other incarcerated persons. He embraces every challenge.
Hernandez says the Lakers logo is one of the hardest team logos to do. “Lakers has detailed and descriptive lines and this makes it harder to create the emblem. It takes me over 10 days to get one piece done.”
The artist spends hours and days to steer his abilities to where he feels they need to go. Whenever he faces complications, he stops working and relaxes in the dayroom of his housing unit, trying to find distractions from his heavy workload.
Hernandez feels happy that he could supplement his rehabilitative goals with new skills. He credits his creativity to the congenial atmosphere of San Quentin, where he discovered his latent talents. The artist’s new creative occupation began about a year ago. He acknowledges that he has a lot to learn and humbly admits that this new enterprise has turned into a success only because of his hard work.
Hernandez gladly divulges the tricks of his craft-art. He uses stick glue, paint, floor wax, cardboard, paper towers, newspapers, sheets of blank paper, rice and, of course, egg shells.
Many of his customers have remarked about the sophistication of his art and expressed astonishment that a beginner made it.
Besides sports team logos, Hernandez also makes women’s handbags. His customers — family and friends in Mexico — love them, he said. CDCR lunch boxes provide source materials for the handbags. He uses the plastic wrappers to protect the paper boxes that provide the body. To keep his creations sturdy, he sews the bags together with thread made from socks bought from vendors, using plastic needles he made from deodorant caps.
The artist has begun to work on his next project, a big Golden State Warriors logo, for the upcoming San Quentin News Gala fundraiser. He feels blessed to serve his community through his art.
Hernandez’s parole will come in 2038. An ICE detainer makes him a candidate for deportation. He plans to take his trade back to his homeland of Mexico.
Whenever he works, he says, he visualizes himself owning a workshop in Mexico, making a living and supporting his family.