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    A passion for comic books inspired Santiago Canyon College professor’s unique art
    • December 20, 2023

    Santiago Canyon College graphic design professor Fernando Del Rosario is a creative at heart.

    Whether he is developing marketing solutions for his clients through his agency, Concept Zombie, producing original artwork for local gallery showings or inspiring the next generation of graphic design students, Del Rosario is always creating.

    Earlier this fall, Del Rosario shared some of his personal artwork with the SCC community when a portion of his Real Heroes collection was on display at the SCC Art Gallery in September.

    Fernando Del Rosario’s gallery showing at Santiago Canyon College (Courtesy of RSCCD Communications)

    SCC professor Fernando Del Rosario’s passion for comic books inspired his art. (Courtesy of RSCCD Communications)

    Fernando Del Rosario, professor of graphic design at Santiago Canyon College, shows off his passion for graphic art. Photo courtesy of RSCCD Communications



    The genesis of the Real Heroes collection is rooted in Del Rosario’s childhood love for comic books. Born in the Philippines, he and his family moved to Detroit when he was 11 years old in search of a better life.

    During those first years in the U.S., Del Rosario began reading and collecting comic books. To him, they were a portal into the fantastic world of superheroes, with inspiring stories of how the characters helped those around them who were less fortunate.

    “When we came to America, a lot of people helped us out, from helping us find an apartment or a house to rent, to clothes that I wore in middle school and high school,” Del Rosario said. “So when I read these books, the stories really resonated with me.”

    Born with the creative gene, Del Rosario graduated from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies with a graphic design degree. He later moved to Southern California to pursue marketing and advertising work with the agency that handled Taco Bell. But he never had the heart to part with the comic books he spent hours reading as a child.

    So, as creatives do, Del Rosario came up with a unique solution for his beloved collection – he reimagined the comic books into large-scale pieces of art, a way to share the love and joy these stories and characters gave him as a young boy with a new audience through a different medium.

    These mixed-media pieces were created by taking pages from the vintage comic books and assembling giant patterned collages, some as large as four feet by seven feet. To incorporate messages within his art, Del Rosario added quotes from those he considers to be real-life superheroes, words from the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou and Malala, to name a few.

    Over the past 10 years, Del Rosario has completed more than 200 pieces in his collection, a labor of love that has allowed him to experience a new level of creative freedom.

    “As a creative director in design and marketing, every piece of work that I create, whether it be a logo or an ad or a billboard, I’m servicing a client, a brand, a company or an organization,” Del Rosario said. “This art that I create is really for me. That level of freedom of creating something, regardless of whether people will accept it or not, is quite freeing as an artist.”

    As it turns out, Del Rosario’s Real Heroes work has been well-received, as the 20-plus pieces he had on display this fall at the SCC Art Gallery marked the 59th gallery showing for his collection.

    Although Del Rosario has been teaching at various colleges and universities for the last 21 years, this is his first semester at SCC, and it was always his desire to have the chance to share his work with the campus community, an opportunity that has allowed him a new way to engage with his students.

    “To be able to share that in a college-level venue is equally as freeing and amazing because I’m able to share that story with the next generation of creatives, the next generation of artists,” Del Rosario said. “And to be able to say to them, ‘I totally understand the value of creating something for a career,’ but in addition to that, they should equally and unapologetically pursue creating something for themselves.”

    Even today, Del Rosario is still creating and adding to his Real Heroes collection. Previous gallery showings in Orange County have included Las Laguna Art Gallery, Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and John Wayne Airport. Current showings include the Mission Viejo Library and the Kaleidoscope Center in Mission Viejo.

    With a focus on introducing students to the “wonderful, amazing and creative world of graphic design,” Del Rosario takes seriously his role at SCC and hopes that being able to share his personal art within the campus walls inspires a sense of bravery in his students as they pursue their own creative paths.

    “I want to be able to speak to the next generation … to have the courage to put themselves out there,” Del Rosario said. “It’s difficult to be vulnerable, but I think it’s part of the creative process, to conjure up that courage to not just create it, but to share it.”

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