Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month
last updated 15 October 2020
Artwork by Juliana Motzko
Bright is proud to represent and give a platform to a diverse group of artists with relevant voices in an ever-changing industry. We recently celebrated Latinx Heritage Month with our Latin artists as they share how a crochet wardrobe, homemade mole sauce, and the colors of Dia de Muertos inspired their work.
We admire the beauty that various cultures and races bring to one’s art. As a Latin man / woman, how has your background influenced your work as an illustrator?
The colors I use in my palettes are all derived from deep dives into my Mexican upbringing. I look at everything from photos of my grandparents, to certain foods, to the language, and to the energy that comes from the music and dance of my culture; I look at all of this to bring out the richness of my heritage in my art.
For example, mole sauce ranges from deep to dark creating a simple and vibrant dish. Mole inspires my characters by influencing their simplicities and complexities. Now this may seem a little strange, how can a sauce inspire so much from so little? Because it is beautiful, like my heritage. I am writing books based on Dia de Muertos, my grandparents, and cooking Mexican foods. I am constantly brainstorming new characters based on my upbringing. I am Mexican. I am an artist. I am proud of who I am because of my art. - James Rey Sanchez
We used to live in a wooden yellow house and we couldn’t afford much, so imagination played a big role! I loved to watch my mother knit crochet everyday. Most of our belongings were homemade, so my mom knitted all of my clothes (they were super stylish, I can assure you!).
My dad made magic with his hands with a variety of materials (wood, concrete, paper). I loved the moments when my brother and I broke a toy. Since we couldn’t buy a new one, we carefully brought it to my dad’s garage and a new toy would be re-born with an arm made of wires that would bring a different experience to our stories! There is something magical about creating something with your hands, and that was a big inspiration for me becoming an illustrator. - Claudia Souza
Claudia’s mother’s crochet & her father’s garage.
Through the process of colonization, so many different cultures were brought here and mixed together in such a chaotic way. To make sense of myself and my culture I had to look inward. The older I get, I feel like I draw more personal experiences. For example, instead of getting inspiration online to draw a kitchen, I reference memories of my grandmother’s kitchen.
I try to capture moments from my day to day life, and it’s a constant search for identity and for ways to show the world what life in Brazil is truly like. It makes my artwork feel more personal and it makes me appreciate the peculiarities of my culture. - Rayanne Vieira
I intend for my work to be happy, and colorful, which resonates within Colombian society. Despite the hardships we Colombians have experienced we are happy, optimistic people. I like to portray that in my paintings. - Andres Landazabal
Have you worked on any projects that resonated with you and/or are there any you would like to work on in the future?
Now that I have kids I have discovered a growing interest for my origins. I realize there are fantastic stories from my grandparents home in Costa Rica. I wish I could rescue those elements in a book. Recreating the simplicity of those times is a challenge I would love to accept. - Leo Trinidad
I had the chance to illustrate a project about the different types of clothing from all around the world. It involved a lot of research, but it was so much fun! I would love to work on more magical projects, where I could put the characters in a Brazilian or Latin American setting.
We don’t see enough stories where Latin American kids adventure in fantasy worlds, so I’ve been trying to do this more in my personal work. - Rayanne Vieira
When did you first realize your creativity and that you wanted to be an artist?
I wanted to be a writer as a kid, but I had difficulty putting my ideas into words. For some reason drawing them was the best way to tell my stories, and that’s how I started drawing my own picture books. - Fatima Anaya
An old illustration drawn by Fatima.
It never crossed my mind that it was possible to be an illustrator, I just did it for fun! Discovering the artistic community introduced me to artists and their stories. A freelance artist known as Loish, was a great inspiration to me. I wanted to follow her steps, and venture into this world. I left my previous job to dedicate myself to art and 3 years later I have had fantastic experiences with only more to come! - Caroline Garcia
Some of Caroline’s lovely illustrations.
Tell us a story about your childhood that inspires your creativity?
When I was growing up my family and I would visit an uncle who had a small farm in a remote region of the country. We drove over cliffs and half built roads to get there, and we’d play with our cousins. Our uncle would take us on expeditions to learn about the different plants and animals that lived in the region. We tasted raw sugar cane and cacao fruit, I can still remember the flavors!. We would splash around in the river, and simply be in nature.
My uncle later lost his farm to the violence that still goes on today. Since we can’t go back, it’s one of my most treasured memories. - Luisa Uribe
Luisa and her sister.
I believe some tv cartoons, series, and making videos with a VCR/VHS camera inspired my creativity. In the early 80’s I had a Commodore Vic20 computer and an Apple II. I used both to create some digital paintings and little animations. I always did creative things, everything around me inspired me. I would even draw in the sand when my family was at the beach or doodle in old magazines. - Marcelo Badari
Marcelo as a boy drawing in the sand & his doodles in an old magazine.
I think my oldest memory of drawing is when I was super curious to see how a crayon sketch would look on a wall. I decided to use a red crayon in the middle of the fresh painted wall in the dining room…my mom didn’t love that!
Despite her frustration, I’m lucky that I was always motivated by my family to explore my passions. I was a very imaginative kid that was always creating. I loved to turn daily life experiences into something fun and creative to do (a drawing, a game, a song, a text…). - Juliana Motzko
Juliana as a little girl.
How does your art give you a voice for the Latino community to share with the rest of the world?
Speaking for the Latino community seems too big to me. I think I would like to teach my daughter the importance of understanding and respecting differences. I want her to understand that a girl can do anything that a boy can. I want her to understand that small things make a big difference and beauty can be found anywhere. This is why I draw. - Camila Carrossine
I want to show empathy and give a voice to the beautiful faces and cultures we have to share! Latinos are often the working class, and the statistics for working class creatives is often less than 10%. I want to prove to everyone that I can make it, as well as make a more inclusive community. - Marco Elizalde
My art gives power to the Latin community, especially where I’m from, because it is hard to get out of the rough and tumble town that I grew up in. I believe my art gives me a voice for those who are struggling in my community, and shows you can (and should) follow your dreams.
I have been treated less than because of my last name or being seen as “just a Mexican who can’t amount to anything.” It pushes me to show my community that we are good enough. No matter your circumstances, you are good enough. Latino community, WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH. - James Rey Sanchez
Artwork done by Andrés Landazabal.
These are only a few of the untold stories. Join us as we continue to learn about cultures that are not our own, and engage in conversations inviting diversity to the table. Bright artist, Rayanne Vieira, said it well, “I think people who don’t know a lot about Latin America often think of us as a bunch of underdeveloped countries, where people are constantly struggling. There’s a lot of inequality and struggle here. We can’t be blind to that. But there’s a lot of joy, a lot of strength, a lot of love, and a lot of passion for life.”