When Rafael Gonzales Jr. designed his first coronavirus-themed lottery card, he did it mostly on his own.
“I’m at home, so it started as a distraction from everything that was going on,” says Gonzales, a San Antonio native who works as a laboratory manager at the University of Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy.
The self-taught artist and graphic designer usually share work with friends and family on Instagram, but in addition to a SATX sticker he created for sale at Felíz Modern, his work was never really intended for the public. That changed last month when Gonzales started adapting traditional lottery cards to COVID-19 pandemic-themed cards that clarify the serious situation everyone is adapting to. “It was just a creative outlet to deal with everything I was seeing,” he says.
The first card, La cabRona, includes a drawing of the iconic image of the virus that people continue to see in the news. Gonzales shared with the caption “As mom says, ‘quedate en la chingada casa'” (“stay at the bitch house”). From there, it grew to include El Hoarder, a card with several rolls of toilet paper; El Trabajo, which is represented by a laptop with an open Zoom meeting; La Colcha, which shows a duvet with the tiger king; La Coping Mechanism, a margarita complete with salt on the rim; and El Malha, which features a traditional fighter with a face mask over the wrestling mask, so that it complies with the city rule for facial coatings. There is also La Starbucks, which shows a standard coffee maker at home, and El Checksote, which features a stimulus check from the United States Treasury.
As he continued to post letters, he heard more and more San Antonians that they wanted a copy of the Pandemic now, both to play and to remember the interesting time we are living. To begin with, Gonzales turned some of the cards into t-shirts that are for sale through threadless.com. He is working to create enough cards for a complete lottery game – 54 – and also to create a new website so that he can sell the games. Orders are now available.
The traditional lottery game is one that Gonzales played occasionally, but he says it has become a staple in his family since he and his wife were married. “Her family has been playing, almost religiously, for a long time,” he says, adding that his aunts usually gather on Saturdays to play.
Gonzales started teaching drawing and graphic design about three years ago, and although he says he created brochures for work and birthday cards for friends, he still doesn’t consider himself a professional. “It’s hard to hear people call me an artist because I’m still teaching myself,” he says, adding that he works on his art, including letters, after his daily work.
Fortunately, he says, his in-laws will be able to use the game the next time they manage to get together for the lottery in person.