Hey Ana, thank you for agreeing to be on 107. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Are you in Austin or Houston? How did you end up there?
I’m from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. I lived in Houston for 5 years but recently moved to Arkansas where I’m doing community work and preparing for my next solo show. I moved to Houston in 2011 to pursue a career in the Animal Health field, but became full time artist in 2015.
How did you get into drawing and illustration? Did you have a background in art?
Not Really had a background in art, I grew up in the center of an Island where there was no solid knowledge of what being an artist was, to be honest. I used to write and draw since I was very little but always as part of my entertainment, never thought of it as a professional career. My family has always been very hardworking so I was being prepared to study in one of the best public Universities of Puerto Rico while exploring art for fun. In the University, I got to take some free electives that included basic painting, where I met art students and became part of art groups and projects while studying Sciences at the same time. So writing, drawing and painting became mostly the ways I relieved myself from college work and spend time with friends.
You also do Murals, which can be daunting to others. How did you get into that and how do you prepare for a mural?
After graduating from college, I moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico where the art scene was more active and free. I met several other emerging artists who I got to share living spaces with (while working as waitress) and became interested in other forms of painting, big scale painting and also making my art public and accessible to everyone. I noticed that the people that were part of my daily life had the right to see what they inspire artists like me to create, and strongly believed that art should be their right as citizens and not just an exclusive privilege for some. So I joined my graffiti artists friends in the streets.
Before painting a mural, I like to have a sketch. I think about the place, city I’ll be working at and try to use elements that relate to it or my feeling about it. I create a materials list for preparation and select the equipment.
I don’t usually use a projector but for short time projects sometimes I do although I prefer freehand or the grid technic. Always like to start early in the morning and have a great playlist that remind me where I come from.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in getting your work seen and coming into your own as an artist?
I consider myself very lucky to have been seen by the right people at the right moment. I never really tried to be seen or to get into places and scenes where my work maybe doesn’t belong yet. I believe I still have to grow as an artist and I’m sure things will happen at their right moment.
Regarding my style, it has been a constant transition and I believe it will continue changing but once you realize that you don’t need to please anyone, you get to know yourself better and all the changes you make are just part of your evolution as an artist, positively affected by the things you learn with every new experience.
One would call your work surrealism and fantasy art, how would you describe it? What influences your work?
It’s always hard to describe your work when all you do comes out from your imagination filtered by emotions that you can’t really describe but illustrate. Maybe a combination of both surrealism and fantasy since my characters don’t really exist and when I paint them I try to make them seem palpable to the touch, or close.
I feel like what has influenced me the most has been my direct contact with animals during my childhood and college years. All the experiences in the laboratory and on the fields also have a lot to do with the esthetics of my characters, but my extreme sensibility to everything that surrounds me and excessive imagination (not always a virtue) gives it the emotional weight that somehow people feel when they connect to my work, even when that is not my intention.
Are there any local artists whose work you love and would love to collaborate with?
I really love all my friend’s works because I can see how much effort they put into it. Even though I don’t see myself collaborating with anyone, I have a couple of favorite artists that make me want to be better artist everyday. Sainer Etam, Fintan Magee, Dulk, Travis Louie, Nosego, Beth Cavener (sculptor) just to mention some of them.
Are there any advice you would give to emerging artist? Any advice you were given back in the day that was extremely useful?
A good friend told me once (when I wasn’t even taking art seriously) that the only way to get to know yourself as an artist and be good at it was to never stop working. The more you work the more you practice and the closer you are to your own level of perfection. My advice, try new things, until you find the pencil, the brush, the piece of paper that makes you comfortable and explore all the things you can do with it. Create from the heart but not to please anyone and be free.