DonkeeBoy – Alex Roman Jr.
The Houston Loves Teachers campaign has enlisted Milby High graduate and muralist Alex “Donkeeboy” Roman to design a mural–with the help of Milby students–to commemorate Houston hosting the title game in January. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked Donkeeboy more about his Hispanic culture and artistic journey.
- Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your artistic journey and background?
I’m Alex Roman Jr., AKA Donkeeboy. My artistic journey has been inspired by my mom. She’s an artist, and I’ve followed her footsteps from a young age. Then, I took it to the next level and made a career out of it. There’ve been a lot of ups and downs, but way more ups at this point.
- How does your Hispanic heritage play a role in your artistic expression and the themes you explore in your work?
Growing up in a very small town in Mexico, I learned that you’ve gotta make do with what you have. You need to know how to adapt and use whatever you have available. This is what my roots taught me; it’s something I carry with me every day. It’s inside of me.
- In what ways do you hope this collaborative project at Milby High will teach the students about art, culture, and collaboration?
I hope that the students that go to Milby feel inspired knowing that someone from their same neighborhood is now being paid to do something that he loves to do – someone that made a career out of it. I hope it shows kids that others can do the same. I wasn’t the best student when I was in high school, but now I feel very accomplished being able to collaborate with the high school itself.
- With your mother, Donkeemom, being an artist herself, how have her teachings influenced you?
If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be doing art. She’s the one who first taught me about art. Really, it was the only art I had in my life growing up. When people would hang her artwork at houses and we went to visit, I felt so inspired. I loved to see that. I thought that if she could do it, I could do it too. She then taught me about art in her own way – ensuring I had supplies and encouragement along the way. She also taught me to pursue my dream and work hard for it.
- What advice would you give to young, aspiring Hispanic artists who are just starting their creative journeys?
Dream big. Practice. Treat it like a job – like it’s a responsibility. The more you practice making art, the better you’ll get. You won’t always like everything you create, but it’s essential for building your skills and your talent. It’s part of the process. There’s a lot of ugly in the process, but that’ll help build you as an artist in the long run. Make all the mistakes as early as you can!
Houston Loves Teachers is a collective impact campaign led by the College Football Playoff Foundation, Good Reason Houston, and the 2024 CFP National Championship Host Committee to recruit and retain excellent teachers in the Houston area.