Meet Rodel Gonzalez, the Side A Vocalist Turned Disney's First and Only Licensed Filipino Artist

You can catch his grand art exhibition in Manila next week.
by Micah Avry Guiao
May 25, 2023

( You might know Rodel Gonzalez as the former vocalist and saxophonist of OPM band Side A, but did you know he’s also the first and only Filipino artist to ever be licensed by Disney and Marvel?

On June 3, Gonzalez will be holding a one-man grand exhibition at 5 p.m. featuring over a hundred Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars artworks at Sheraton Manila Hotel. Pieces are to be displayed and auctioned off to interested buyers.

As a testament to his skill and success, Gonzalez's artworks have been sold in art galleries in Japan, North America, and Europe, as well as Disney's Theme Parks and Cruise Lines.

“Even though I’ve been living in the U.S. for 20 years now, I still consider Manila to be my home. To be able to show my achievements in the U.S. and share [them] with the Filipino people is quite exciting,” Gonzalez told “This VIP art show event will represent the whole spectrum of who I am since it will feature my works from when I was in Hawaii, LA, Disney Fine Art, Star Wars, and Marvel as well.”

PHOTO BY Instagram/@rodelgonzalez

Also read: PHOTOS: Rodel Gonzalez's Star Wars Art Is So Stunning, Even George Lucas Is a Fan

How did Rodel Gonzalez become a Disney artist?

A man of many talents, Gonzalez grew up in a third-generation family of artists, but it wasn’t until he retired from professional music and moved to Hawaii when he started his art career with the help of a few family members who were already established in the scene.

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“I started painting when I was seven to eight years old and gave it up after high school and started my music career which I did for 18 years and then picking it up again 2002,” Gonzalez said. “2008 was when I was offered a Disney license even though my subject matters then were seascapes and landscapes. With the help of [Disney artist] James Coleman who I did art shows [with], I accepted the offer and started doing my own spin to the franchise.”

PHOTO BY Instagram/@rodelgonzalez

From that point on, his artistic trajectory with Disney began to unfold, with licenses to paint Marvel and Star Wars following soon after.

Disney is known to be strict with its art licensing to preserve the integrity of its brand, which is why Gonzalez is currently the lone Filipino artist to have been granted this privilege. 

PHOTO BY Instagram/@rodelgonzalez

His Disney license enables him to create his own interpretation of any movie that resonates with him—his art style a harmonious fusion of realism, impressionism, and magical storytelling similar to Disney’s. This includes the wide range of Disney movies, Star Wars franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and even Pixar shorts.

“I love the diversity of subject matters and scenes that I do. It's endless," Gonzalez said at his 15th year working with Disney. His personal favorites to paint are classics he grew up with himself like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast.

PHOTO BY Instagram/@rodelgonzalez

Also read: The Guide to Getting Your Money's Worth at Hong Kong Disneyland

On the constant lookout to expand his expertise, even someone as established as Gonzalez takes inspiration from other artists on social media: “I’m always a student in art and will remain a student to this day until I retire from painting. I’m a fan of different artists that I follow on social media when I can and be inspired by their works and journey.”

PHOTO BY Instagram/@rodelgonzalez

Drawing from his wealth of experience, Gonzalez is offering his words of wisdom to aspiring artists who wish to reach his level of skill and success.

“My advice for aspiring artists is to put their 120% on their craft. There’s no shortcut,” Gonzalez said. “To the aspiring artists, hone your craft, do the hours…lots of hours and enjoy the journey. Have your joy in the creative process and not when someone buys your works. Remain a student in art forever.”

To see more of his artworks, check out Gonzalez’s official Facebook and Instagram.

Also read: Disney Cruise to Set Sail From Singapore and Across Southeast Asia