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Meet Trailblazer Margaret Gonzales

Today we’d like to introduce you to Margaret Gonzales.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Margaret. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a self-taught, wildlife conservation artist from San Diego, CA. From graphite to paint, colored pencils to clay, I grew up experimenting with new mediums. I have been creating art for so long, I truly can’t remember when it all began. I do remember as an assignment in kindergarten where we draw an ice cream cone stand and I enjoyed it so much I drew it over and over. I drew it so many times that I can replicate it to this day. I also remember my first and only ‘lesson’ on realism. While waiting at the dreaded dentist’s office, my grandmother showed me how to navigate the anatomy of a face. I soon realized that I could draw anything I could see by breaking it into strategic sections and that’s when I became interested in graphite realism.

My career began with commissioned graphite portraits of friends and family’s pets and children. Eventually, I realized I was missing a major passion of mine, color. At this point, I tried to continue to create portraits in new colorful mediums but still hadn’t found my niche. It wasn’t until I began creating for myself, rather than commissions, that I found my true passion, wildlife!

My current body of work is comprised of elements of realism with a pop of electric color. With what is going on in our oceans today, I can’t get my mind out of the water and most of my work is inspired by marine life. I grew up in the waters of San Diego and spent my summers at the Zoo and Aquarium. Nature has always been a huge part of my life and in today’s time, conservation is at the forefront of my mind. My art has given me a fantastic opportunity to start that conversation with the public in a positive light and recently it has given me the opportunity to contribute monthly to protecting our planet and all of its inhabitants.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t think I can call my journey a struggle. Working full-time as an artist has undoubtedly been a difficult path to take but anything worth doing is usually a challenge and this has been the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. When you step out of your comfort zone, and this career was way out of my comfort zone, it is going to take some hard work to get to where you want to be. While I have always had a creative outlet in life, and have always had the goal of working for myself, it took me some time to decide to make the leap and begin a career in art. At the age of 25, I truly decided that working in a classroom or office setting was not right for me but it wasn’t until 27 that I truly made it happen. I decided to focus all of my efforts into becoming a full-time artist. It was both the hardest and best decision I’ve ever made. Having not gone to a school of art, not painting or drawing consistently from a young age, and not having friends or family in the art community, I ran into a lot of self-doubts. Regardless of my personal successes, I found myself comparing my timeline and accomplishments to the people around me and if I had to name one, that would be my biggest struggle.

My advice to others parting with the expected path would be to really go for it. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, learn as much as you can, take full advantage of every opportunity that finds you, create your own opportunities and expect it to be a lot of work. Most importantly, set goals that are significant to you and focus on those goals, not what is happening around you. If you can focus on what is important to you, the hard work will absolutely be worth it.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I am a contemporary artist focusing on ocean conservation. I paint bold, vibrant pieces, most often portraits, of marine life. My favorite term to describe the work I do would be “electric realism”. I use a variety of bold colors and my background in realism to merge abstract and reality in each piece. Many of the animals featured in my work are endangered and I love to use my work to inform my audience about what is going on in our oceans. Once a month, I donate a portion of profits to charities working directly on ocean clean-up efforts and conservation.

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well-positioned for?
I believe there are opportunities out there for everyone, but often, we have to try a bit harder to find them. Seldom are they handed out. Luckily, women are naturally resilient and resourceful. Because of that, I urge women to go out and create their own opportunities. Put together a plan, go out and ask for what you want. Don’t be discouraged by the “no’s” because all it takes is one “yes”. By doing this, you can create opportunities that are perfect for you and your vision rather than fighting for something you have to make yourself fit into.


  • Prints start at $40
  • Originals start at $120
  • Commissions start at $150

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