Julio Lora, born on September 24, 1988, aka Goonkidz, is a creator and graphic designer. He grew up in the BX, NYC, and moved down to Florida in 2011. He is the founder and creator for Trippy Bandanas, a festival clothing line born out of passion for festival art.

The Interview
By Sergio Mendes

Where does the name Goonkidz come from?

It was a childhood nickname given through my graffiti crew S.D.E. Goon because I wanted an iconic character to express in the graffiti world. The dollar sign eyes mean the money and the hustle is always on my mind. The signature teeth incorporate my tag discreetly. Over time, the goon character evolves and comes in many shapes and emotions. The goon is who I am. It keeps me grounded and reminds me who I am and where I come from. The gritty streets, underground tunnels, and back alleyways. The goon is always lurking in the shadows.

Where are you from and how long have you been a graphic artist?

Born and raised in the boogie down Bronx, New York, home of graffiti and hiphop. Drawing has always been a passion, since childhood. I would consider myself a creator, reaching beyond more than just graphic design. When I see things I want, instead of buying it, I think about how I can create it myself. My creativity is endless and comes in many forms. Whether it’s anything from paper to sculptures, I won’t stop until I learn every form of design. Hey, one day you might see a Goon building in Times Square.

Describe your creative process. What inspires you?

I draw from natural feelings and energy in the moment. When I start creating, I always keep in mind that I want to make something that doesn’t exist. A “something out of nothing” approach. I like to call it the 4th dimension. From one small idea, it builds and builds until I feel comfortable, which is never. Some works are quick and some I am still working on. Inspiration comes in many forms for me. It can be a song, sound, landscape or even just human interaction. I can create anything and make it my own style.

What is your favorite way to portray your art? (canvas, walls, clothing, etc.)

Clothing has been my favorite form of showing my art. I’ve also made prints and canvases, but something about wearable art speaks to me. Seeing people move and interact with my art has been very satisfying. I’ve seen my art on so many different people and in many environments, from festivals to blm protests. Over time, I see my art becoming a part of culture and becoming a symbol of freedom, love, and pure expression.

Who are some of your favorite painters/graphic artists?

Just to name a few: Keith Haring, Basqiat, and graffiti legends like Seen, Dondi and Futura 2000. The old school colorful trains opened my eyes to an infamous art scene. I would never have thought in a million years that the artists would soon become the new rockstars.

What is your preferred tool to create and why?

In graffiti culture, our tools are anything we could get our hands on. As a kid, I would buy shoe polish containers and put house paints in them. As I progressed as an artist, I now use photoshop and procreate apps to transform my art into a digital format. From the streets to a laptop. Wow, how times have changed. I try to stick to the roots as much as possible. Computers keep my hands cleaner, but from time to time, I hit the streets and destroy walls like the good ol’ days. Sceenprinting has become a new love of mine. Also, something about being alone in a dark room, exposing my art, makes me feel like a mad scientist at work.

Any potential collaborations you have coming or any you wish to come to fruition?

I’m interested in working with any artist. Combining styles is groundbreaking when done right. Whether the artist is big or small, I’m always down to create. Naturally, I’m a loner, at heart. I like to be alone when making my art. Something about people watching me create kinda annoys me. I’m more of a “show you when I’m finished” type of artist. Creation comes from within and for that I like to be as solitary as possible. I know as my art grows it will become more popular, but popularity was never my focus. It happens when the time comes, but I’m in no rush.

We met through the festival scene as you flexed your art advertising to the campsites? What has been your favorite or most memorable festival experience?

Most memorable festival experience would have to be Sub-Cul-Ture festival. I was booked to run a merch booth for the fam and American Grime. This fest was small but the “fam vibes” I got from it were the best I’ve had in a while. Just seeing the love and creativity spread throughout my merch showed me a different side to my artistry. It gives me the fuel I need to keep going and this is only the beginning. The future is looking real bright and I’m excited for what it brings. Big ups to the American Grime movement. Yay Yay!!!!!!

They say behind every strong man, there is a smart woman. Do you have anyone in your corner that anchors you?

Candi is my life partner for 12 years. She is my rock and the reason I even still do this shit. She keeps me on my toes and her energy is unmatched. If you know Candi, you know how much influence she has on me and everyone around her. She’s a tough cookie… the ying to my yang. every idea I come up with is run through her first cuz lord knows if you leave it to me I would fuck it up. Shout to the one and only Candles.

Random question – Biggie or Tupac?

B.I.G. all the way. He is New York. To me, one of the best rappers of all time. ‘It was all a dream’

Anyone you wish to shout out?

Big shout out to American Grime, Subculture, Jumanji, S.D.E. crew, my whole Sodosopa family, and my moms for putting up with the long nights.

Follow Goonkidz online