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Meet the Maker - Philip Barragan & Mason Arrigo

Philip Barragan & Mason Arrigo

Meet Philip Barragan & Mason Arrigo, the makers behind Embonpoint Publishing. 
The mission of Embonpoint is to provide a publishing vehicle for new graphic novels. As writers and visual artists ourselves, we have experienced the hardship in getting our work to the public through the standard channels. Our initial projects stand a bit outside of the mainstream with characters and topics that challenge the status quo and don't necessarily fit inside any kind of box. And since we have no intention of changing our style or our message, we created Embonpoint!

Read their story below

How’d you get your start?  

Philip and Mason: We met in 2012 and began working together on the art for Philip’s debut prose novel, Fatizen 24602. We decided to develop it into a graphic novel and in 2017 we established our own imprint, Embonpoint Publishing, to develop and distribute our two titles, FATIZEN and Blanc Noir. While FATIZEN is primarily social justice oriented, Blanc Noir tends to be darkly humorous.

"I almost entered a Catholic Trappist monastery in my 20s." - Philip
"I enjoy doing stories that, in some subtle way, helps people from being assholes." - Mason

Advice for those with similar aspirations? 

Philip: I have a day job, so my evenings and weekends are filled with formatting and lettering the novels. Mason draws all day, every day. It’s a lot of work, and you have to be willing to stay focused and never allow rejections to stop your creative process. Combined, we spend an average of 60 hours a week on our projects. I also spend a significant amount of time on nonfiction essays so that takes a significant chunk of my time currently.
Mason: Do it because you love it, not because you expect to become rich.

What kinds of jobs did you have leading up to the start of your creative venture? How do you envision your brand growing in the future? 

Philip: Mason was a professional makeup artist for 30 years and I worked with the homeless and HIV/AIDS populations for over twenty years before getting my MFA in writing. We released two graphic novels over the last six months and have one more issue of FATIZEN to complete the trilogy coming out this summer. Mason also regularly produces greeting cards which have been very successful.

Describe your day at home or in your workspace?

Both: Grateful that we have a home office in our downtown condo. Philip teleworks while Mason spends the days illustrating and coloring our graphic novels. Philip spends much of the weekend formatting and lettering pages while working on nonfiction work.

What does your workspace look like? Are you hyper-organized, a little messy?

Both: Our home is very organized thanks to Mason’s eye for detail. Our home office has dedicated space for both artists, but Mason’s drawing and coloring supplies have consumed his corner of the dining room.

What is your favorite local mural or piece of street art, what strikes you about it? 

Both: After the local unrest, so many amazing murals appeared all over like wildflowers growing after a forest fire. One particular artist, David Rodriguez, founder and artist RIVVL Collective, has murals all over the city. A great piece can be found at the corner of 7th and Pine on the old burned out building. 

"Louis Burgers on Atlantic has made the pandemic doable!"

Which do you most attribute to your success?

Philip: I learn from my mistakes, and I love being challenged to be better. Each project provides the opportunity to improve my craft, and learn from my colleagues on what works, and what doesn’t. Nothing is ever gained by hearing, “That’s nice.” It’s important to be open to helpful criticism if producing a better product is an end goal.

How does your work march us to a better future?

Philip: All of my work is geared to opening the eyes of others to whatever topic I’m writing about. I don’t write about pretty things. I write to challenge the status quo, to explore the world from a unique and possibly underrepresented perspective.

 

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