On Art, Education, and Gardens: an Interview with Jose Ramirez


Jose Ramirez is an artist, educator, and father rooted in Los Angeles. His art pieces can be seen everywhere, from the homes of family and friends in the form of calendars and illustrated children’s books to the murals in Trejo’s Cantina in Hollywood. I first met Ramirez through his youngest daughter, Sol, who I quickly became friends with through Self Help Graphics’ Youth Committee about two years ago. Through Sol, I was able to interview Ramirez and learn further about him, his art, and even his garden.

Ramirez currently lives in Los Angeles and has lived here his entire life with the exception of the ten years he spent attending high school and college. Ramirez attended the University of California Berkeley where he received both his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Art. Following his time at Berkley, he received his teaching credentials from California State University, Los Angeles.

When I asked about what first drew him to art, Ramirez shared that his art teacher’s feedback and guidance fostered his love of art. This responsiveness from his teacher, in addition to the healing qualities art posed for him at the time, led him to explore art further and increase his interest. Ramirez shared that his favorite art mediums to work with are acrylic and enamel, both of which he uses frequently in his pieces.

In addition to being an artist and father, Ramirez is also an educator. At the moment, he works at Esperanza Elementary as an Intervention Specialist. He speaks about his past and current students highly, sharing that alongside his children and his artwork, an accomplishment which he feels quite proud of is his students. He also shares that the students, parents, and the relationships he has with the communities that he teaches are his greatest inspiration. Being an artist has impacted his teaching career in a positive manner; by living life through the lens of an artist, he shared he is able to be a better teacher.

Ramirez shares advice on navigating the art world through trial and error and how critical mistakes are to the livelihood of success. He discussed that, while learning to navigate the art world, he learned that communication is essential in order to lay boundaries as to what you are willing and able to do. Additionally, he recommends worrying less about the art world (the critics and whatnot) and focusing more on making good art.

On top of everything Ramirez manages to do, he also maintains a beautiful garden that includes an extensive range of plants from fruit trees to maize. Ramirez shared that three things that best represent him would be trees, schools, and music. If you are interested in learning more about his garden, Ramirez has shared photos from his garden which can be found on his website as linked here: https://ramirezart.com/about