Table of Contents
- Who is Rian Gonzales?
- Artistic Evolution
- 3dsense Interview
- Rian Gonzales and Marvel Snap
- Personal Top 3 Variants
- Unreleased Variants
- Miscellaneous Work
- Closing Words
Once again, dear readers, it is a joy for me to be able to present to you another edition of Variants and Lore!
In the last three editions, many of you have let us know that you liked this type of work. As long as this remains the case, it will be a pleasure for me to continue making it.
Before starting, I would like to share with you the links to the first three editions of this column:
- Variants and Lore #1: The Phoenix Force, Phoenix Five, and Jean Grey
- Variants and Lore #2: Dan Hipp Artist Showcase
- Variants and Lore #3: Kim Jacinto Artist Showcase
One of the anniversary events allowed us to vote for one of three variants, and the most popular would be given to all players. Among these, one in particular caught my attention.
Without a doubt, Rian Gonzales’s style vibrates due to her bright colors with neon touches that pops in combination with pastel tones and her technique based on gouache and watercolors. Thanks to this and her other variants for Marvel Snap, her work has become well known in the community. Which is the perfect reason to dedicate this edition of Variants and Lore to her!
Let’s find out a little more about “Rainbowart”, shall we?
Who is Rian Gonzales?
Let’s start off by saying that Rian’s name is pronounced differently than you might think. Many of us (including myself) used to think that the pronunciation was similar to “Ryan,” but, after doing some research on names in the Philippines, the most common thing would be to pronounce it “Ree-An”.
To make the point clear, Rian Gonzales, also known as “Rainbowart”, is a Manila-based illustrator and comic cover artist. Her distinctive and brilliant art clearly denotes her influences. She grew up reading Archie Digest, Manga, and watching Anime, which has been one of her greatest inspirations – especially Sailor Moon and the magical girls genre.
Her story in the art world begins when an acclaimed comic book artist, Fiona Staples, discovered Rian’s work on social media. It was then that the Director of Operations for Archie Comics invited her to illustrate a cover for one of their titles.
Here’s the exact text with which Rian celebrated this event on her Tumblr: “HI GUYS! IT’S OFFICIAL! I HAVE MY FIRST EVER PUBLISHED COMIC COVER!!! What an honor to have done it for Archie Comics and the incredible Adam Hughes who’s writing and drawing Betty and Veronica #1! I used to just collect and read these comics while I was still still a kid. Fast forward years from then, it’s finally here! I’m so happy! T^T <3 <3 <3“
A few years later, her work has already taken an exponential leap, which allows us to enjoy her art in the game. Congratulations, Rian!
Since then, we can notice that Rian has made some work with gouache, a water-based technique with thick and opaque colors. To put it simply, gouache is an evolution of watercolor and a technique that is used by Rian in many of her works. The impressive thing is how Rian can take a technique based on opaque colors and make it so striking with colors that practically glow like neon.
She studied as an artist at the UST College of Fine Arts and Design, the school of fine arts at the University of Santo Tomas (the oldest and largest Catholic university in Manila, Philippines). This is where a curious fact comes in: she was encouraged by her professors to study other artistic styles, such as that of Adam Hughes and Alex Ross, both of whom are legends in the comics world. This was with the intention that her style would not stagnate and evolve as an artist. This may have led her to her first approach to art in Marvel Comics.
Here are some of Alex Ross’s variants in Marvel Snap:
Rian mentioned in an interview that she wanted to take pieces of information from these artists and integrate them into her style.
After starting in the world of comics with the aforementioned cover of Betty and Veronica, she worked making covers for different titles from multiple companies such as with IDW Publishing, Valiant Comics, BOOM! Studios, and Marvel Comics, in addition to a new participation in the world of Archie.
Here are some important examples of her work for these companies:
- Archie 80th Anniversary: Everything Archie #1
- Magic: The Gathering #24 March 1, 2023
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 30th Anniversary Special #1
- Marvel Rising Alpha #1 (Connecting Cover) June 13, 2018.
- Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel & Squirrel Girl #1 (Connecting Cover) July 04, 2018.
- Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel & Squirrel Girl #2 (Connecting Cover) Aug. 1, 2018.
- Marvel Rising Omega #1 (Connecting Cover) Sept. 12, 2018.
- X-Men #1 July 21, 2021
- X Deaths of Wolverine #5 March 23, 2022
And we couldn’t leave behind her three most recent works for Marvel:
- Venom #26 New Champions Cover
- Venom #26 Variant Cover
- The Sensational She-Hulk #1
There is an interview on YouTube that a channel called 3dsense Media School, a digital art school in Asia, conducted with Rian a couple of years ago within the framework of “Graphika Manila 2019”.
I have transposed some of the questions and answers from it that I would like to share with you.
Q: Can you name a few of your favorite artistic influences?
Rian: Some of the most influential for me would have to be Sailor Moon. I really like the magical girls because, growing up in the 90’s, there weren’t really a lot of strong female characters. You get all these superheroes in Christina Aguilera fashion with the belly button and then there came this genre “Magical Girls” that, you know, they can still look feminine but they can kick butt! That’s pretty nice for me.
I also like this new character, Ms. Marvel, because it shows that even a person of color can sell well. I mean, Ms. Marvel is one of the most best-selling comics in the market right now, so it just goes to show that there are new materials that can be consumed for a lot of people – not just all these muscular men, right?
The last one would be Paper Girls from image comics. I’m a really big fan of Cliff Chiang. This is more of like an art perspective. Not really much into like writing or anything. I just like the patter of colors with Matt Wilson.
– Note: This graphic novel (Paper Girls) had a series on Amazon Video during 2022. The second season was canceled.
Finish what you start
Q: When would you call your work finished?
Rian: When I was starting out, I was obsessed with perfection, and I thought that was not a really good idea. I watched this video of Jake Parker. He said that it’s better for a project to be finished than perfect. I think it’s important not to stress out on a panel that not a lot of readers would really look into.
It’s better to finish something and not get stuck on a piece because if you get stuck, there is a tendency that you will never be satisfied with a piece because you’re your own worst critic. So, it’s better to kind of just move on and create as much as you can.
I thought it was very important to share this question because I think it can open the eyes of many of us when we face our work every day. Take the first step, and then finish the project! It doesn’t matter if they are not perfect. It is better to do this than to live stuck searching for perfection. The first step is usually the most difficult. Once you’re walking, everything is easier.
Q: What do you think are some important attitudes for artist?
Rian: For me, I think first and foremost it’s about being kind, like in general. Because you don’t know how small the industry is. Your classmate might be your art director or editor, so it’s very important to have like an art peer group where you are kind of comfortable sharing your art and you can get critiques and comments on your work.
Second is determination. I don’t believe in talent. I think that if you put your heart into something, if you’re really determined, you can get to it very nicely.
The last one would be patience. It’s important to know that this opportunity is not yet right for you. Like what happened to me with Marvel. I got scouted 3 years ago, and it took me like two more years in order to get a cover. At that time, my skill set wasn’t really made for Marvel, so what I did was submit my work until I got a cover opportunity.
Here we can learn another important thing and remember the three things that lead the vast majority of people to success. Be kind, be determined, and be patient. These three together can undoubtedly lead you to achieve your goals.
This biography was made with data from:
Rian Gonzales and Marvel Snap
I think we all recognize the Shang-Chi art that I showed at the beginning of the article.
As you can see, this is once again a work that was already published in paper that has come to the game in the form of a card variant. While some were aware of Rian’s variants, I think it was not until this anniversary and the appearance of this variant that many people were able to discover how talented she is.
Personal Top 3 Variants
Not mentioning this Aero variant would certainly get me thrown to the lions. I think it’s incredibly pretty, and I think it stands out in Rian’s work because of the colors.
As we can see in her other variants, her work is usually very colorful and bright. In this case, although the drawing has a lot of lighting, the dominance of white and green makes Aero look formidable in Rian’s style.
Regarding Rogue and Shang-Chi, there is something important to take into account. I think that the little chibis that accompany both drawings are very distinctive of Rian’s work and give a very special touch to both variants. Furthermore, seeing how Rian has adapted her style little by little and evolving to a state that meets Marvel’s requirements is undoubtedly something that deserves applause.
- Aero is a Token Shop Ultimate Variant – 5,000 Collector’s Tokens.
- Rogue is a Super Rare Variant – 1,200 Gold.
- Shang-Chi is a Super Rare Variant – 1,200 Gold.
3rd – Valkyrie
This Valkyrie variant looks tremendously special to me. Rian is certainly determined to break out of the mold.
Tessa Thompson is the one who plays Valkyrie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and I do not doubt that this variant is in her honor.
- Super Rare – 1,200 Gold
2nd – Goose and Cosmo
The way Rian draws the animals also has its charm. Just look at this little Goose! His decisive look, the bright colors, and the little chibis. I could say that it almost looks like a plushie.
- Not available – April Season Pass
Curiously, unlike Goose, Rian’s Cosmo looks more like a realistic dog – but that doesn’t take away his charm. This is my favorite Cosmo variant, and it’s the one I use whenever I have Cosmo in my deck.
The background with the planets looks incredible to me, and Cosmo’s face makes me so tender.
Colors are always something to highlight. To think that most of Rian’s work is done in gouache and watercolor blows my mind.
1st – Jeff the Baby Big Bad
This is probably Jeff’s best variant. It competes strongly with Dan Hipp’s. I wish I could have both, but I haven’t had any luck.
The joy on our little shark’s face is touching. It’s almost like he was happy to see us, and Rian adapting her ever-present chibis to a claw machine idea seemed awesome to me.
Do you notice that Jeff seems to have the flippers on the heads of two kittens? There’s another wink; Rian does not overlook the opportunity to show us her love for kittens by using these little animals in many of her works, even in discreet ways. In Marvel Snap, we could make almost an entire deck just with the Rian variants that have kittens!
- Mister Negative – Super Rare for 1,200 Gold.
- Lady Deathstrike – Unreleased.
- Rescue – Not available, Artist Showcase Bundle: Rian Gonzales for 2,500 Gold.
Of all the variants that are yet to come from Rian Gonzales, the vast majority are Chibi style. It would seem that most of the characters that will receive a variant of this style in the future could pass through Rian’s hands.
Even so, there are also other variants in a more conventional style that are yet to come. These five variants that I share with you are the ones that I most look forward to in Rian’s future work. Aren’t they incredible?
It is always very nice to observe the networks of these artists in detail. If we look calmly, we can observe many things that they like and/or are passionate about and express artistically beyond work.
Art about the Wizard of Öz can be found more than once on Rian’s networks. This work in watercolor and thread details was the cover illustration of her thesis.
If anyone thought that portraits might not suit Rian, I leave you this formidable work also done in watercolors. Can you guess who the character is? Clue: the character was played by an actor whose name sounds like Benadryl Cumberland.
Luckily for me, there is almost always a bit of Star Wars around.
Let there be no doubt that among the artists with variants in Marvel Snap there is admiration. For those who do not know Artgerm, click here.
If it weren’t for this man, Rian probably wouldn’t have dared to share her art on social media. She wholeheartedly thanks him for pushing her to create her DeviantArt almost 15 years ago…
Without a doubt, certain characters tend to become the favorites of artists. Velma and Morrigan, although diametrically opposed, are two of the characters that we can see repeatedly in Rian’s networks.
Rian frequently mentions the influence that video games have on her. Both in her free time and for inspiration, Pokémon is undoubtedly one of her favorites.
Now you can see where Jeff’s excited little eyes come from.
When the trailer for the latest TMNT movie came out, Rian shared this work she had done in the past. Many of us grew up with the Turtles, and apparently Rian did, too. Who wouldn’t like them?
As usual and before I go, let me share with you the platforms where you can find more of Rian Gonzales work:
It has been a tremendous journey. I hope this work has been to your liking. Studying and sharing Rian’s art with all of you filled me with bright colors, and lots of watercolors! And I certainly enjoyed it. Not forgetting that it makes clear to us what Rian mentions in the interview. The world is not only about superheroes, it’s also about capable and strong superheroines.
Do not hesitate to share your opinions with us in the comment section of this article, on the Marvel Snap Community Discord, and on my Twitter. We will return with more variants, lore, and artists as long as it’s content that is valuable to our community.
See you soon! And as always, dear readers, thanks for reading this far, and don’t forget to smile. You know it makes a difference!