The world can be a scary place. What better way to deal with this fact than to laugh and enjoy the time we have? So often things come down to a matter of laugh, cry, or die. One person who had definitely taken the first option is the multifaceted creator Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez. Known to his fans as Aurelio Voltaire, following a few confusing years only using his middle name.
Born in Cuba in 1967, and under threat of “being made an example of” by the Castro regime, Hernandez escaped with his sister and parents to New Jersey where he lived a different sort of Hell as a light-skinned Hispanic kid at the height of the Cold War.
Literally surviving gang beatings by bullies, as well as suicidal ideation, he escaped into creativity. Eventually finding a place in several facets of creativity, including being a recording artist/touring musician, writing books, designing home decor and toys and, more recently, as an actor. Before all that, however, there was always art.
A member of the Goth community, long before it was cool, Hernandez has referred to himself as “ooky spooky” likely taking the term from the theme song for the original Addams Family sitcom. Making clear his mostly jovial outlook on life and largely self-deprecating sense of humor.
Starting out making stop-motion films, which got him a job with a national advertising company when he first arrived in his new home of New York at the age of 17, Hernandez is also a skilled illustrator and painter. Talents that came in handy when promoting his shows in the early days of his music career in the mid-1990s, which he did through little comics with the fitting title of Oh My Goth!
Similar to the now-infamous Chick Tracts, they had quite a different message. Telling a made-up story about the trouble Hernandez had getting to his last show and where his next one was going to be. They were used again for his graphic novel Chi-Chian in 1997 and, more recently, an adorable Halloween/Christmas hybrid picture book titled The Legend of Candy Claws in 2014.
He has also been responsible for some of the most striking and memorable cover art on his albums including Riding A Black Unicorn Down the Side of An Erupting Volcano While Drinking From A Chalice Filled With The Laughter of Small Children independently released in 2011, Heart-Shaped Wound released by Projekt Records in 2017 and The Black Black Labyrinth~A Requiem For The Goblin King. A musical tribute to the children’s Fantasy film of the same name, meant partly as a tribute to the late David Bowie, released in December in 2022.
Either a renaissance man or jack-of-all-trades, depending how charitable you are feeling, Aurelio Voltaire is nothing if not brave. Trying his hand at anything that struck is fancy, some coming out better than others but with his whole heart put into all of it, particularly his visual art. Making him an example of a true creative.