Jonathan La Mantia (aka LA MANTIA!) has been a freelance artist since 2010, and since 2014, he’s focused his attention on developing more personal art and exhibiting at comic conventions across the country. Much of his art work is influenced by a lifelong love of horror and science fiction, as well as his personal experiences of living with Crohn's disease and chronic illness.
Jonathan’s history with Rhetoric Coffee goes back to their very first roasts that featured his illustrations and logo design. Those early works were commissioned by Rhetoric’s founder James Parrish. At the time, they were both just beginning their new professional ventures, and they also shared a mutual interest in art and weird sci-fi comics. Integrating expressive art into this new project was a natural fit.
This updated series of designs for Rhetoric Coffee represents a return to the company that was the first to commission Jonathan as a professional artist. It’s also an intentional departure from the style of art he’s most well-known for – including his original illustrations for Rhetoric.
In early 2019 Jonathan spent two weeks in the hospital, and months in physical therapy, after being diagnosed with vestibular neuritis. “It’s hard to really articulate how time moves when you’re in a hospital bed. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been admitted for procedures for a few days before, but the uncertainty surrounding this diagnosis and treatment made it all feel like ages.” Jonathan shares. After the onset, it was weeks before he was able to attempt to draw anything complex again, and early on it was difficult to even sketch. And so, he adopted a new technique in an effort to develop his suddenly limited drawing capability and connect with his need for motor recovery. Thankfully, over time the symptoms almost fully diminished, Jonathan was able to return to his usual intricately detailed line work by the end of the year.
Each piece of this series for Rhetoric was inked using the technique Jonathan adopted during his recovery, as a remembrance of that period.
Jonathan says, “I really want to thank James and Rhetoric Coffee for their patience with the long development process of these works, and for the opportunity to create something very personal.”