Living in the Realm of Surreal Expression

Studio 319 has been the home of Juan Carlos Ruiz Jr. for the past 5 1/2 years at the GoggleWorks. Walking along the narrow halls of the 3rd floor you’re immediately thrown in to the world of Ruiz, the walls surrounding you full of large pieces of his art.

It’s not the largest studio in the GoggleWorks, but that doesn’t stop Ruiz from being creative. He thrives on ingenuity and imagination.

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Behind the canvas

Born in Reading, Ruiz fell in love with comic books at a young age. But his interests went beyond just enjoying them, he started to draw his own characters. Moving into high school his creativity quickly developed into new areas. Renaissance art, surrealism, realism, fantasy, and some abstract expressionism all became ways to express how he sees the world.

Graduating from Wyomissing Area High School Ruiz continued his artistic studies at Hussian School of Art. Living in Philadelphia for 4 years gave Ruiz time to explore his creativity.

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After college Ruiz was out on his own, so to make a little money he took a job at an assisted living community. This was a very humbling experience for Ruiz, but he still yearned to break out on his own.
During this time Ruiz began to hangout in the cafe of the GoggleWorks.

The GoggleWorks offered Ruiz a place to organize his thoughts and be creative.

So in 2012 he took a leap of faith and began renting studio space to fulfil his dream of being a full time artist.


Ruiz’s main inspiration comes from surrealism. Using his imagination, his work reflects everything from social issues, hot topics, to the abstract. Ruiz take his time to think about the messages in paintings.
He found surrealism to be a way to utilize his technical skills in realism and combine that with his imagination.

Adding feeling to his work is the basis on which he creates. Ruiz first plans his layout, design, and feeling before making his motions to the canvas.

“I like to tie in a lot of my own feelings into the pieces I create, it gives everything a sense of realism”

Every piece gives the viewer a sense of passion and cause. Some of his work may be more literal, others wrapped in symbols, but each convey a distinct message.

Using his influences of surrealism, realism, renaissance art, abstract expressionism, and other genres of art, Ruiz creates his own style to mirror what he sees in the world around him.

The Business of Art

Over the past five and a half years Ruiz has made a name for himself at the GoggleWorks. From designing, album covers, murals, and commissioned paintings, corporate logos, Ruiz has expanded his business beyond his original design.

Looking back Ruiz says his favorite things to create have been the canvas paintings and outdoor murals.

With 15 murals spread across Berks County, he has certainly made his mark on the area. The largest of his murals is located on Buttonwood and McKnight Streets.

The mural is three stories tall depicting four kids piecing together the world. The words ‘unity, love, hope, kindness, and peace’ wrap around Rose stem on the side of the building.
Besides murals, Ruiz sell his own original art, some of this is commissioned but most is work he has available for sale in his studio. In addition, he also has a good business selling paper prints at galleries and festivals.

“They’re all so different, some take 2 hours others may take 120 hours, it’s my passion so it takes as long as it takes”

As a business, time is money, but you can’t rush creativity. Ruiz spends most of his time designing layouts and planning individual elements of each painting.

The goal for Ruiz is to paint more murals, host gallery shows and display his work in the community.

For now, he uses the GoggleWorks events like ‘Second Sunday’ to promote himself. This gives the public a chance to meet and learn more about his work.

Ultimately, his goal is to move into an area where he can live off expressing his own style, and looking around his studio, it shouldn’t take too long.

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Jason Hugg
Jason Hugg
Editor and photographer of Reading Magazine.
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