Monseis Perez was recommended by his former teacher, Joyce Bendele, to be an excellent illustrator.
Born on August 7, 1973, Monseis Perez has lived in Devine all of his life, including the present. He happily comes from a family of four: his dad, Monseis Sr., his mother, Emma, and his sister, Patricia. “Both of my parents worked very hard to provide for us and help me get through school,” Monseis says. And he adds, “I don’t know where I would have been without them.”
Following his graduation from Devine High School in 1991, Monseis attended Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, and ultimately UTSA, majoring in Fine Arts. He says that Palo Alto College was a great experience for him because of the small class sizes and the small school atmosphere, making him feel comfortable as a transition from high school to college. He adds that, although the school has grown quite a bit since he was there, he thinks that it’s still a great place for a lot of students to begin their college careers.
On March 30, 2002, Monseis married Maryalice Fernandez, daughter of Roy and Gloria Fernandez of Devine. Monseis claims that Mary is his “absolute best friend who I turn to very often for support. We always try to understand each other, even when we disagree. We definitely try to make laughter a part of our everyday life!” The couple’s son, Julian, was born on October 27, 2004, and is completing his sophomore year at Devine High School.
An artist himself, Monseis says of his son, “Julian is a very gifted artist. He is way better at creating than I was at that age. But he did attend my art classes when he was a student at Devine Intermediate, so I like to think that I played a little part in that. (Okay, maybe not so much, but I can at least think that.) I am so proud of the person he has become. He shares my quirky sense of humor and is just an all-around great kid.”
Speaking of teaching, in 2002, Monseis started working at Devine ISD, first at the high school level, then at intermediate campus. For ten years, he taught art class at Devine Intermediate, making a total of 17 years working at Devine ISD. Reflecting on his teaching experience in Devine, Monseis says, “I love this community, and I’m proud to be a part of it. This is home. This is where my parents raised me. I am happy that I was able to give a little bit back to the children of Devine.”
Two years ago, Monseis began working at the Pleasanton ISD Elementary where he continues to brighten the lives of children, only his role now is special education inclusion. About his career choice, Monseis states, “I didn’t grow up imagining that I would be working in the educational field, but ultimately, it felt like a good fit. It’s been a blessing and has played a big part in shaping who I have become today.”
Last year during the lockdown, Monseis says that he really stepped out of his comfort zone and started a YouTube channel with the purpose of inspiring people to create art projects with supplies they may have at home. With everyone trying to stay in as much as possible, he and his wife Mary thought, “People, specifically kids, can still make art with things they have around the house.” He admits that it was definitely a learning experience, and since then, he hasn’t uploaded any more videos. Although he did have fun doing it, he admits, “I don’t know how many times I had to start over because Mary, who was my camera person, and I would start giggling and then burst out laughing because my intros were pretty corny.” Monseis doubts that he would do it again, but about the experience he says, “My hope was that kids would have some of those anxieties that we were all feeling squashed while making some art.”
On January 14 of this year, Monseis lost his mom. He says that her passing has left a deep wound that he carries. “My mom was more than a mom; she was a friend whom we could talk to about anything. She was always willing to listen with an open mind.” He shares that although it’s only been four months since they lost her, “I feel like it’s been an eternity. I miss her every day.” Monseis says that it is his mom who passed down that artistic gift to him and his son, Julian. He recalls that as a kid, she was always drawing faces, and his maternal grandfather would draw animals on anything he found – napkins, mail, flyers, etc. Fortunately, Monseis still has some of his grandfather’s drawings.
One of Monseis’ first “paying” art jobs was painting the high school and middle school cheerleader megaphones in Devine. He remembers that to have been in 1995. And he feels fortunate to have been involved in various school art projects and creating art for local businesses.
Although he had been drawing and painting for years, Monseis felt the pull to expand his drawing experience. So, in 2017, he bought a pen tablet and started learning digital art. This is a technique he had been avoiding to embrace, as he felt like it was “cheating” at creating art. Never the less, he was intrigued as well as intimidated to learn it. Monseis elaborates, “It felt like, you know, when your friends are trying a new kind of food and telling you to try it, but you’re like, ‘No, thank you. I’m good.’ But yet you keep looking over, still kind of wondering what it tastes like…. That was me with digital art. I knew artists were using it, succeeding with it, and loving it. But I was hesitant. [Yet] once I started learning it, I couldn’t put it down.”
Monseis explains that he almost quit the digital art idea altogether in the beginning, as he found capturing the concepts to be a challenge. “I felt so disconnected from traditional art and the way I had done it all my life,” he says. But, to master it, he says that he “obsessively watched instructional videos online” until he realized what he was lacking. Like so many people are doing these days, Monseis basically learned from the internet.
Together with his wife, Mary, Monseis has created a children’s book. Mary did the writing while Monseis did the illustrating. Their first book, after years of procrastinating, is entitled, BLUSH and the MELON PATCH. It’s a short story that follows the main character, Blush the bull, through his challenging adventures.
Although they completed the book in 2017, they “sat on it” for a while, as Monseis was not completely satisfied with the illustrations. Then, last year, during the Covid lockdown, he re-did them digitally. Now, the two are waiting to get their first book published. Monseis says that the story includes a quote that he and Mary think “resonates with those stepping out to experience something new.” It states, “Even in a new place, you can find happiness.”
Besides art, Monseis’ biggest passion is music, something he has loved since he was a kid. He loves collecting music, beginning with cassette tapes as a kid, then on to CDs. He has collected CDs for about 20 years. For the past three years, though, he has been collecting vinyl records. “I absolutely love music on vinyl,” he exclaims. “It’s funny because when I tell people I buy records, they will say something like, ‘Oh, so you like to listen to older music,’ and, ‘Do you have one of those old record players?’ He explains that before collecting records, he did not know that “pretty much every new and current musical artist releases their music on vinyl records.” Monseis’ musical tastes range from older music like the Beatles, through 80s music, and even to more current artists. But, he affirms that he’s “an 80’s kid, through and through. Nothing beats that era of music!” Monseis feels that music is “a beautiful hobby that marries the idea of art and music.”
Outside of art and music, Monseis enjoys taking his family on vacations to Rockport, Texas. This is where his parents took his family every summer, and those memories hold a special place in his heart. Now that he has his own family, it is a trip they like to take each year. He wants his family to build the same joyful memories. To the Perez family, Rockport is their “home away from home.”
Not being satisfied with the status quo, Monseis has a lot of creative ideas he’s willing to put to use. One of them is owning a T-shirt business. He wants to design shirts for local school districts. He has done a few shirts for school functions, but he would like for that to become a consistent business. He has so many ideas that he’d like to see printed.
Of course, Monseis wants to continue illustrating children’s books. He and Mary are currently brainstorming ideas for a Blush sequel even before the first edition is published. Meanwhile, he says he is very excited to be illustrating a children’s book that Kathleene Runnels has written. The book is entitled, ARCHIE and the PACK, and Monseis’ former DHS art teacher, Joyce Bendele, recommended him as the illustrator. About this project, Monseis says, “It’s been a great collaboration and my challenge is to do the story justice by creating the visuals that the words are invoking. It was truly an honor to be asked to do it and I am looking forward to the finished product.”