Julian Peña is a Japanese-Dominican-American painter and graphic artist. Peña was born in Okinawa, Japan and immigrated with his mother to the United States. He received his Bachelors of Art at University of Washington in Seattle.
Peña is best known for his signature style influenced by Japanese anime aesthetics and a Dominican vibrant color palette. His work often features a playful yet menacing cast of characters inspired by video game storytelling. Nostalgia and themes of identity also compel Peña to make art with this cast of psychedelic, eccentric, grotesque, and cute characters- coined as “avatars” in his acrylic paintings. Watching anime and playing video games brought him to escape from reality to transform into his own avatar. Using Photoshop and Illustrator, Peña creates a digital composite to illustrate the intended narrative. To achieve a more graphic line work, he also utilizes screen-printing and ornamental surface techniques that offer textures and light-play. Much of his work even includes the application of gold leaf and dry special effect pigments that were influenced from his past study in Nihonga (Japanese mineral pigment painting). Peña demonstrates meticulous processes with his maximalist tendencies that borders on the obsessive; his work strives to find new ways of bridging the gap between technology and an art-making practice.
Peña has shown in numerous exhibitions, was voted “Best Artist of South Sound Magazine” in 2012/2013, and participated in Collaborate/Create’s residency. Until recently Peña owned and operated a gallery that supported underrepresented artists through his 501c3 nonprofit.
He currently lives and works in Seattle, WA.