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Cyberpunk Illustrations of a Dystopian Future

The brightly colored art books of Josan Gonzalez cast a shadow over the dark times ahead.
Images publiées avec l'aimable autorisation de Josan Gonzalez.

"The future is now," might be a true statement: we live in a present that's in constant flux—maybe it even means we've entered the future as a state of mind, if not the literal definition of a fixed point in time. As fun as it is to debate, Josan Gonzalez's art books of the same name are decidedly set in a future we have not yet set foot in. His cyberpunk illustrations create a chaotic, densely urban world populated by cyborgs and outlaws outfitted with advanced prosthetics.


The first book, which is sold out for now, set the tone of things. There are motorcycle gangs straight out of Akira terrorizing street vendors and pedestrians; one-percenters blinded by their virtual circles to the the destitution surrounding them; and a rebel musician wheeling around her assorted hardware in a shopping cart.

Volume 2, currently in the works, takes a step further and develops these themes further. "The girl with four arms is the protagonist and she is definitely against the government or persecuted for an unknown reason," Josan tells The Creators Project. We're presented with images of a cheery family turning their backs to riots on television; an obviously illicit doctor's office; and one worrisomely plugged in technician.

Although the books all happen in the same universe and have recurring ideas and characters, they're not literally bound by a story. But Josan has some fun fleshing things out on the Kickstarter campaign for the second book, weaving a plot into the actual campaign, which walks contributors through a registration process in the books' universe that doubles as a pitch for donations.

His campaign is novel, even literary. "Welcome," he begins, "my name is Josan, and as Chief of the Ministry of Information of Robo-City 16 and creator of the Robo-Citizen's Guide to The Future, also known as The Future is Now, I will guide you through this process of acquisition that will, if completed successfully, provide you with the required documents to become a Robo-Citizen." From there, he breaks down how all citizens in this city are equal—except, of course, those who donate more money. It's a detailed class system, ranging from simple digital access to helping the artist create a character that will be included in the forthcoming book.


In addition to funding the development of the new volume, Josan will also be reprinting the first book (for the third time). His line work is drawn with pencil and ink, which he then scans and colors in Photoshop. "But my aim is for the color to look as close to traditional as possible, never digital," the artist points out.

It's a been a very successful fundraising campaign, already accumulating $17,000 over the $20,000 goal, with 26 days still left to go come press time. It probably helps that he's taken the completed illustrations and animated them for the exciting video above. Floating police cars and wild skylines unfurl in a style similar to old-school Aeon Flux cartoons, with some aggressive electro synths on the soundtrack by VHS Glitch.

Although Volume 2 is still in development, we couldn't help but ask what's in store for the future. Josan's response is a touch cryptic: "The next thing will most surely not be an art book. Look out for either a graphic novel or something else ;)" Maybe that final emoji is hinting at a fully animated version? Or maybe we're just projecting our hopes onto that simple, winking smiley face because of the Kickerstarter video. One can hope, one can hope.

Click here to check out The Future is Now - Volume Two on Kickstarter.


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