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Get To Know Beckman: Jose Vazquez

Meet Jose Vazquez, who joined the Beckman Institute in 2016 as a part of the Imaging Technology Group.
Published on Jan. 8, 2024

Jose Vazquez pictured with his mural.Jose Vazquez.Meet Jose Vazquez, who joined the Beckman Institute's Imaging Technology Group in 2016.

Art has always played an enormous role in his life. When he isn’t spending time with his family and going on hikes with them, Vazquez loves to create. Whether painting murals, creating concept art for video games, or developing creative data visualizations, he is always looking for ways to incorporate his style into projects.

Describe your role at the Beckman Institute.

I work for the Imaging Technology Group, or ITG. We're basically an in-house studio for all the researchers here. Typically, a researcher will come to us for any type of visual element that they need. It could be a figure, an illustration, a 3D model, or even an animation. My work helps the researchers with their projects because we can help show what they are working on.

What's something that people might not know about the work that you do?

I think some people don’t even know we’re here and are surprised to find out about the ITG! We're a great resource for Beckman. Sometimes, it feels like we are a little-known secret. It's really neat that Beckman has its own studio and lab for imaging because then our work stays in-house.

What are you proudest of?

One of the things I am proudest of is a mural I worked on recently at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. I was really proud of that because of the positive feedback I've gotten. The project itself also has such a positive message, and I love that I was able to have such a large role in that. I love that there's so many people that have been able to see it and will continue to see it. I’ve done murals in Chicago, St. Louis, and in Champaign-Urbana, but my most recent mural is the biggest I've worked on in a long time.

Jose Vazquez pictured with his full mural.Jose Vazquez pictured with his most recent mural. It can be found at 201 W. Kenyon Rd, Champaign, IL 61820.

Outside of your professional experience, what are you an expert in?

My career at Beckman is in 3D modeling and animation, but I am also a concept artist, which is more like drawing. I do concept art for video games, and in addition to that, I create lots of other forms of art.

My whole life I’ve been doing art in one way or another. I was an airbrush artist for years and that opened up the door for other things too. I’ve done murals, acrylic paintings, pencil drawings, and charcoal work; pretty much anything. I like having time to do more personal projects now because I can play with my style.

I used to have a very fun, cartoonish style in my art, which I developed when I was younger. I was a graffiti artist with my friends, so we would go to neighborhood shops and ask if they would let us paint there. We’d get permission and then do some drawings. That turned into people seeing our art, asking about us, and then they would hire us to do art and murals for them. It evolved from us doing graffiti art for fun into us getting paid, which was great.

From there, I was able to do murals for the Chicago Park District where I got to work with other artists. I think graffiti is an art form in itself, but it was great to work with artists who had different styles too. As a kid, I did a couple of projects here and there using paint and brushes, and now my art has evolved into so many different forms, including fun freelance work. I still do love to work on my projects at home though, either in my house or in my garage.

When and where are you happiest?

I think any time I'm doing art, I'm happiest. Really anything creative where I get to build something with my own hands makes me happy.

I also love hanging out with my family and spending time with my kids. I’m a total family guy, which is great because my kids also like to use their creative sides. One of my sons is into music, one son is into animation, and my youngest, my daughter, is always doing some sort of art project. We also go fishing as a family, and it really makes me happy to do that with my kids.

Who is your hero of fiction? Who is your hero in real life?

One hero that comes to mind is Harrison Ford in any of his films because he’s my favorite actor. I really like him in Indiana Jones. He’s pretty adventurous but also has a good side in his movies.

As for my hero in real life, I would definitely say my dad. He moved us to Chicago from Mexico when I was 3 years old, always working and making sacrifices so my family got what we needed. He did all of that so we could have a better life, and that’s something I can see more of now that I’m also a dad. I see what my parents went through and the kind of struggles they had, and I have such a large appreciation for them.

What is your favorite fall activity?

I like to go hiking year-round with my family, but I think fall is my favorite season to do that because you see the different colors of the leaves. It’s also not as hot as other months. We’ve gone hiking everywhere in places nearby like Clinton Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Starved Rock.

What is your personal motto?

Treat people the way you’ve always wanted to be treated.

I always try to tell that to my kids, no matter who the person is or what they do. You always want to treat people with respect because you would want the same thing from them.

In this article

  • Jose Vazquez
    Jose Vazquez's directory photo.

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