Guest Feature

Oliver Dominguez–What Was on His . . .

Oliver Dominguez

I have a very special guest today—Oliver Dominguez, the illustrator of Nacho’s Nachos. Oliver created an absolutely magnificent 1940s vibe for our book. From the moment you open the cover, you feel as though you’ve stepped 80 years back in time. Just look at the spread below with Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya and Roberto de los Santos outside of the Victory Club, where nachos were created. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

Oliver’s father was a history buff and his love for the past rubbed off on his son. Oliver is particularly fascinated by historical fashion. He studied the history of hats for a solo show, Hats of Time. And he became an expert at turn-of-the-century clothing for Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World and Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud that Changed Baseball. His dedication to accuracy is truly impressive. (Keep on reading, you’ll see what I mean.)

Oliver is a professor of illustration at the Ringling College of Art and Design. His favorite artists include Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and J.C. Leyendecker, all of whose influence you’ll perhaps notice when looking at Nacho’s Nachos.

Oliver joins us today from Cape Coral, Florida, where he lives with his wife, two kids, and dog, Cooper. Here he is to tell us What Was on Oliver Dominguez’s . . .

Nachos: The idea of creating a story of the man who created the dish “NACHOS” was very intriguing! I’m always thinking about who invented things but food was never on my mind until I got to read a little history behind the nachos, and I was hooked.

Creating this book always made me hungry, and I loved it. I had to indulge my creativity and make my own nacho plate and use it as inspiration and reference.

Also creating this book, I had to use my own reference photography and images provided from the author and art director. As well, I had to utilize other ways to construct perspective environments for some of the page spreads using Maya program.

Working with Maya

Sketchbook: Very important! As an artist you must have a sketchbook, it’s a way to express yourself, it’s a way to practice and experiment on different mediums. I personally use it to draw my ideas down for my first run of sketches, and then I transfer them into large tracing paper.

Worktable: My table consists of inspirational books, paintings that are unfinished, all sorts of painting materials, my kids toys, food, legos to get away from painting, and more! My tables have a little story: my painting table was made for an architect from the 70s.

And my 2nd table is for drawing ideas down and was made from old recycled doors from a high school building from the 80s.

Mind: What’s on my mind this second–school work, how am I going to prep for this fall semester, book deals, mowing the lawn, what am I going to make for dinner tonight for my kids and wife, what’s the next solo show about, DEADLINES ON PROJECTS! Also, what other things do I have to fix around the house, or can I build something fun for my kids to enjoy?

What is really on my mind is how to simplify my paintings and what material I should use. I usually use acrylic, gouache, and watercolor on Tan Rives BFK paper. I would love to use house paint on white heavy paper or wood panels. I just have to start somewhere and experiment!

Process Work: Here is some process work from the Nacho Book!


Studio Wall: Or inspirational wall: pictures of my kids and wife, and also my old dog that passed away, Houston. Artists consist of: J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, Mark English, George Pratt, Shaun Tan, Gary Kelley, Adam Rex and books on artists and fashion artists. Hats and Lego also inspire me.

Studio Floor: Paint, kids craft paint, and my new dog Cooper, eating crayons and destroying my sofa. My kids playing with legos, painting, singing (screaming) or reading a book. A large crack on the floor is also there with a trail of ants creeping out trying to find salvation, but my kids are killing their new home.



Head: Hats. My obsession with hats started in college, in 2005. I have a collection of hats, especially fedora hats! I’ve always been intrigued with dressing your head. Hats have a story. And why did they make hats? This was a question I always asked myself. Why did they make that, for who, and with what fabric? Fashion in hats was something that I was drawn to and it was something that I tried to incorporate in every illustration I created. The right clothing tells a story, also the right hat!

My next children’s book I would love to illustrate a story on the 10 most famous hats, and the history of HATS!!


Calendar: College teaching starts in September. The book release for “Nacho’s Nachos” is August 11th!!

Thank you so much, Oliver! I have August 11th on my calendar too! Also, I love that you dressed as Nacho so you could be your own model for the cover. That’s absolutely inspired!

You can keep up to date with Oliver Dominguez by visiting him online at and by following him on Instagram at @oliverdominquezart and on Facebook at Oliver Dominguez. If you would like to order Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, simply click on the cover below.

In Nacho’s Nachos, Sandra Nickel and Oliver Dominguez introduce young readers to Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya and tell the true story of how he invented the world’s most beloved snack in an inspired moment of culinary desperation.

“This tale of the humble origins of nachos, bolstered by vivid and period-specific illustrations, will whisk young readers away to a different time and place.” —BOOKLIST

“Nickel’s thorough research, including communications with the descendants of the principals, brings to life the man behind the world’s favorite cheesy bites. . . . Nickel’s homage to this congenial, hardworking man and his renowned snack is a celebration of ingenuity and kismet.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review


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6 thoughts on “Oliver Dominguez–What Was on His . . .

  1. Learning about the process Dominguez used while illustrating your book was fantastic! I also love that his kids and dog spend time in his studio. Are they inspiration? Distraction? Who cares! What an amazing and rich family life they must have!

  2. Sandra, congratulations on such a a beautiful book. I’m thrilled that your gorgeous manuscript got paired with Oliver’s illustration. His work is absolutely perfect for this story. I loved seeing his vibrant studio and the pictures of all the finished artwork on the floor! Sometimes publishers will give you full-size copies of the finished artwork to bring on school visits. Kids (and adults) are always surprised to see how large the artwork is!

  3. Huge congratulations, Sandra! This is gorgeous!! And, wow, I enjoyed peeking into Oliver’s life and learning about his process. I love repurposing things with stories, too (like the old high school doors becoming a table). So happy for both of you!

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