Ramon Hidalgo talks about how AFH has helped him turn a lifelong love for cartooning into a collaborative business designing artwork for T-shirts and sweatshirts. Hidalgo is one example of how AFH promotes entrepreneurship among our young artists.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself
RH: I’m 18, and I’m a junior at Cristo Rey Boston High School in Savin Hill. I moved here a few years ago from New York City and I’ve also lived in the Dominican Republic for three years.
Q: How long have you known you’re an artist?
RH: I knew I wanted to be an artist in third grade. I started drawing because my brother was drawing. I’ve always loved cartoons and animation, especially Invader Zim. He’s an alien who’s trying to rule the world but he doesn’t know what he’s doing so it’s really funny.
Q: How did you hear about AFH and how long have you been employed here?
RH: I started coming here during sophomore year in high school, about a year and a half ago. A friend at school told me to come here because she thought I would really grow from it. Now she’s in college and she walks around her campus wearing T-shirts we designed. When people tell her they like the designs, she lets them know they can order them from me.
Q: What do you do at AFH?
RH: I work in the animation studio on cartoons and animation and I make designs for t-shirts and sweatshirts. I work with my friend, Ludgy Jean-Baptiste, every day. We’ve known each other for eight years. I knew him in middle school but then we went to different high schools and were separated. When I came here, I found him again. I consider him my brother. Our styles are similar. We have a label we named “BOX” for “Built on Xscaping”. I thought of the name in the shower! We’ve got a logo too. We make up characters like “Mr. and Mrs. Smooth”. They have their own definitions of what is cool. You know how everybody perceives “cool” in a different way? Our message is you’re cool in your own way no matter what you look like. We’re working on a new design right now that will have the words “Express Yourself” and it will have all different sizes and shapes of people in the design. It’s cool to be who you are.
Q: How do you go about creating the T-shirts and sweatshirts you sell?
RH: First we do drawings, then we scan them into the computer, then we fix them up in Photoshop, and then it gets printed out as a screen for printing on fabric. We choose the ink colors and shirt color we think it would look nice on. Right now, we’ve got three designs that are out but we’ve got thousands of drawings.
Q: How are sales?
RH: They are selling great. We’ve printed a batch of 24 t-shirts several times. Each time, we sell out! Diva’s Boutique in East Boston is going to sell them. The owner’s son wore one of our shirts to college and lots of people asked him where he got it so now they are going to sell them.
Q: What have you learned since working here at AFH?
RH: I have a great mentor, Mikey. I never even touched Photoshop before I came here. He taught me everything about how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. I only used to draw on paper before.
I worked at the sales cart in Faneuil Hall that AFH had last summer. I learned how to sell and it gave me more of a drive to make more and better designs.
I love it here. It’s opened up a lot of doors. What I like most is the networking with mentors and the other students.
Q: What’s your dream?
RH: Can you say “our” dream instead of “your” in the article? ‘Cause Ludgy and I are a team working together. Our dream is to have our own show on the cartoon network or Nickelodeon. Our main thing is having fun and we hope to live off of what we do best. Isn’t that the American dream?
Above: Ludgy and Ramon
Below: AFH Students and Staff model some of Ramon and Ludgy's designs.