Circle of Inspiration // Gabe Bonfili

Gabe Bonfili is a multi talented artist; professional drummer and painter, he executes both like a boss. Finding balance between the two has been part of Gabe's unique journey since he was a kid. 

Image via Ladue News + Bryan Hollerbach

When did you start drawing?

I started scribbling at a young age on anything I could get my hands on. Luckily, my parents let us do that. They encouraged us, man. They let us think it was a legitimate thing and let us get as good as we wanted to. Drawing was super organic for me - I really didn't have a lot of direction. I never took art classes. You know, school was hard for me. It was difficult for me to keep still, but teachers started to notice that I was decent at drawing. I was good at copying and sketching really technical things.

Original artwork copyright Gabriel Bonfili

Most of your art is heavily influenced by musicians. Is that a theme you feel most creative with?

Yeah for sure. It's like which came first the chicken or the egg? (laughs) I need both in my life. I want to paint my favorite musicians because they inspire me so much. The paintings I do of musicians turn out the best and are the most lively.

Original artwork copyright Gabriel Bonfili

It’s kind of directly inspired by improvisation. It's like when you hear someone improvise a jazz solo. I’ll totally just riff on a certain color or pattern and let it do it’s own thing. That is probably 50% of the whole project for me.


What made you pick the drums? Did you grow up playing any other instrument?  

I liked the way drums sounded. I was always tapping on the desk in school! I was so full of energy as a kid; I tried piano and guitar, but I needed to bang on stuff and move around a lot. For a hyperactive kid, drums were perfect! (laughs)

Original artwork copyright Gabriel Bonfili

The painting that stood out to me was of 5 school-age kids sitting down and smiling, and was titled: UNITY & DIVERSITY. What message did you want to convey with that painting?

I love that children don’t seem to see differences in each other. It’s a blessing to think about. They just wanna play and be friends.

Original artwork copyright Gabriel Bonfili

I love that whole rainbow of diversity, man... that was a really special piece. It went to the founder of that language arts school in the Grove here in St. Louis. I put so much of myself into that painting - to get that response really lit a fire in me.


What’s your process when starting a painting?

The way to keep it interesting for me is to keep it playful!

Original artwork copyright Gabriel Bonfili

Actually, I can’t even paint on a white canvas it’s gotta have splashes of color and chaos on the canvas before I can even start. Then the challenge is trying to get it to look like a real person. I don't know (laughs) that’s just my process. It does start off messy... kind of like a kid would start off.  I like keeping that energy in my paintings.


Was there a time when you wanted to focus on art more than music, or are you able to give your energy to both?  

It’s a really tough balance, because both take a really long time for practice. I was technically good at drawing stuff when I was younger. I actually completely quit drawing and art when I was in my 20’s for 6 years. I never wanted to do it again. I was trying for photo-quality realism and I was trying for perfection. But, the cool thing that happened is, that I really got to focus on music and get good at that. Then the art chased me down and I couldn’t resist it. It was weird! (laughs)

Original artwork copyright Gabriel Bonfili


What are you working on now?

I’m working on a piece for a podcast. It has a female face, and a butterfly wing in there, and then it’s kind of all the shapes of the African continents. So that’s been fun and creative. What else... I’m working on some nature pieces; like the juxtaposition between a face and plant life, how they can live together. I've been looking for new patterns within portraits.


How does it feel when people recognize your art and know that it's a Gabe piece?

I’ve had people reach out - even people that I don’t know - and say "I saw your art work". That’s always amazing, it’s a really big compliment. I don’t wanna do the same stuff every time, I wanna push myself and I wanna grow.

Photo sourced from LadueNews and Bryan Hollerbach

Love the journey of following your heart and pursuing your passion. Find out more about Gabe's work and commissions at and follow on Instagram @gabriel_bonfili .

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Artist photos sourced from LadueNews. All artwork copyright Gabriel Bonfilil.

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