Art student’s creative solution to college debt – Daily Sundial

As a first-generation Chilean American, a CSUN artist spent his summers visiting family in Chile, where he was exposed to late ’80s and early ’90s entertainment that inspired his works later in life.

Rodrigo Diaz-Reyes, 26, has been cultivating his artistic talents since he could crawl. Coming from a family of musicians, it is hardly surprising. Diaz-Reyes laughed as he shared that he could have just as easily gotten into music had he chosen to.

“I remember when I was about 7 or 8 years old, and I was drawing the inside of a TIE Fighter,” Diaz-Reyes recalls. “My parents used to ask me what the objects were in the distance and when they saw that I understood perspective, they said it was something we should encourage and pushed my works.”

Before he started sculpting and using different mediums, paper and pencil were readily available to escape isolation among adults and watch reruns of “Zorro” at his grandmother’s house. A strong work ethic was instilled in Diaz-Reyes by going to a private Christian school at a young age.

He caught Boba Fett fever after being given a Boba Fett action figure when he was around 7 years old. It has since continued to make accessories, making five helmets and three suits so far. The base price for a helmet starts at $750, and it will cost more if the customer wants features like the same discontinued paint job that was used in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

Diaz-Reyes has attended conventions and parties hosted by stars of the original trilogy in the Boba Fett costume, but his interest isn’t so much in “Star Wars” as in his artistry. The show business aspect doesn’t sit well with him, as it’s easy to get lost in fame.

One of his favorite parts, though, is seeing the expressions on children’s and adults’ faces when they see an iconic “Star Wars” character walking around at a convention. Children are delighted to see and interact with him, and adults are nostalgic.

Diaz-Reyes is adept in multiple mediums, a necessity for his sculptural works. Graphite, charcoal, oil and acrylic paint, aluminum and bronze are just some of the mediums he works with.

“No support is out of my reach, I just have to pick it up,” Diaz-Reyes said. “Everything I set out to do as an artist, I achieved and that’s something I can say through hard work, dedication and consistency of craftsmanship.”

During her teenage years, Diaz-Reyes won art shows on KCET and saw her work televised three years in a row.

Working hard on art, however, had its downsides. Rifts developed in his old friend groups and connections were severed. Andrew Goldman, whom Diaz-Reyes has known since kindergarten, explained how, in college, some of his old friends twisted his drawings into something inappropriate, which further divided them.

The key to Goldman and Diaz-Reyes’ relationship, however, has been “commitment on both sides, investing time in each other, looking at each other and helping each other grow,” according to Goldman.

Diaz-Reyes entered CSUN as a graphic design major, but he began to feel disillusioned with the program after three years.

“I saw the program was filled with students from other disciplines, not artists,” Diaz-Reyes said. “And that’s when I learned that graphic design was not a field for artists… I didn’t find graphic design inspiring, creative or constructive in a way that was comfortable for me. Because the people around me and what was being taught was not art to me, it was just business practice. It filled me with rules, regulations and standards to such an extent that I was a web designer and not an artist.

After taking a year-long hiatus from school, Diaz-Reyes got engaged and returned as an art major. It was during the hiatus that Diaz-Reyes, working freelance and at Sunglass Hut, was able to scrape together enough money to buy a $9,000 Boba Fett suit, which was just a blank canvas. It was his job to give him a semblance of the real Boba Fett costume.

Diaz-Reyes’ hard work paid off, as the final version of the costume was used for a costume presentation at the “Solo: A Star Wars Movie” premiere.

“When I see how much he’s grown, I can’t help but be in awe and proud of the growth he’s shown,” Goldman said. “I’ve known him since we were kids and the way he has continued to progress is amazing and I can’t wait to see what he stands for.”

Diaz-Reyes can be found on Instagram @bobafetthascollegedebt.

Kayleen C. Rice