Ivan Velez Jr uses the easily-digested art-form of cartooning to examine and deconstruct national history and enlighten the power and beauty of diverse cultural identities as a way to support social change. By using simple lines, bright colors, humanistic stories, and popular genres, Ivan shines a light on our difficult histories and adds his own unique voice to national discourse. His comic book series, ‘Tales of the Closet’, was one of the first interventions for LGBTQIA youth during the early years of the AIDS epidemic; a time of much misunderstanding and miscommunication. His pioneering work in independent and mainstream comics helped install real diversity of color, gender and orientation into a historically oppressive industry. Now, Ivan's work as an independent creator and teaching artist has been greatly supported by several grants, including several from the Bronx Council On The Arts and the Creative Capital grant.
Ivan's teaching work has allowed him to share his skill-sets within his communities in the hopes of enabling the creation of sorely needed stories. Ivan still creates independent comics based on the histories of POC/Queer folk in America via fantastical yet common superhero tropes. His current focus on the histories of the indigenous folk before and after the Eradication support his belief that art can be used to acknowledge, validate, and heal shared historical traumas. His life has always been about social change, and he believes that a culture changes quickly and deeply via its popular culture and shared mythology.