Fierce Boss Ladies

She’s The Latina Putting Magia On The Front Covers Of Books J.K. Rowling Could Have Written

The culture of the Latinidad is as vibrant and diverse as the people in it. That beauty is reflected by the artisans who take their experiences and turn them into masterpieces. It’s this artistry that gives the world a glimpse of our heritage and preserves it for future generations forever. One such artist who utilizes the colors, memories, and people of her homeland is Illustrator Mirelle Ortega.

Represented by the Bright Agency, Ortega is a freelance illustrator from Veracruz. As a young girl, she knew she wanted to create art before she could even put a name to her passion.

“I remember being very, very young and being asked what I wanted to do,” Ortega recently shared in an interview with FIERCE. “I pointed to the cartoons on tv and I was like ‘I want to do that.’ I wasn’t sure what “that” was but someone had to be making it!”

For Ortega, cartoons were more than just the doorway to her future career.

Mirelle Ortega

These pieces of her childhood have offered Ortega some of the biggest inspirations for her own work. “I think animation is definitely a huge influence in my work, particularly style-wise,” Ortega explained. “It was also kind of a great blueprint for me in terms of how to craft a story.”

As an illustrator, Ortega’s job is to tell a story through her art. In fact, sometimes she’s only given one image to tell an entire tale. An example of this is the gorgeous book covers she creates for middle-grade fiction. Ortega is the illustrator behind the covers for Anna Meriano’s “Love Sugar Magic” series. The artwork on the cover of a book can sometimes be as important as its description on the back.

Especially when you’re crafting something for children. Ortega’s artistry is able to convey the magic of Meriano’s stories with a single image.

Mirelle Ortega / HarperCollins Publishers

“It was my first big project with a big publishing house and I was very nervous,” Ortega explained of the covers. “But I was in love with the concept from the start and I was even more in love with the book when I did get to read it. I was really trying to convey all of the fun and whimsy of the world Anna created in the covers.”

“Love Sugar Magic” isn’t Ortega’s only contribution to the world of Middle Grade fiction. This year saw her work on “Vote for Effie,” the first novel in the “Effie” series from author Laura Wood. Debuting in January 2019, the series explores the life of middle schooler Effie as she runs for class president.

This project was slightly different from “Love Sugar Magic” because Ortega created both the cover and interior artwork. As a matter of fact, it pushed the illustrator out of her comfort zone. “It was a bit of an artistic challenge for me,” claimed Ortega. “I’ve always felt my strong suit as an artist is color and the illustrations in this book are black and white. But it turns out I really enjoyed working in black and white. With these illustrations, I was really trying to convey the personalities of the characters and the feelings in Laura’s words.”

Though Ortega works on various projects every year, these covers have a special sentimentality.

Mirelle Ortega / HarperCollins Publishers

“Growing up I always read a lot, and I read a lot of middle-grade books,” Ortega added. “I personally feel I learned a lot from those books about life and how other people live and feel differently. I think the beauty of it is that middle-grade writers tackle very big ideas and concepts and they make it accessible for pretty much everyone. So I am extremely happy to be a part of that.”

While these works have been significant to Ortega, her most personal projects come from a place closer to her heart. Besides growing up in Veracruz, Ortega also stayed in Mexico to study at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.

Even when she relocated to study in San Francisco, the illustrator still remained close to her Mexican roots through her art.

Mirelle Ortega / HarperCollins Publishers

“I don’t think my culture could ever not be a part of my art,” Ortega explained. “It’s a part of who I am and it’s something that shaped the lens through which I see the world. I grew up in rural Mexico and I LOVE my home. I feel like a lot of the things I do are a reflection of that.”

With this touch of home in mind, images from her childhood often pop up in her projects. This past year, Ortega contributed to No Estamos Todas— a visual project that helps create awareness of gender-based violence in Mexico. For her contribution, Ortega drew from Veracruz. The Latina illustrated a hauntingly beautiful depiction of a lone girl juxtaposed by a group of almost ghostly Jarocha dancers.

Since cartoons of her childhood are also a huge influencer on Ortega’s style, it’s no surprise she’d put her own spin on her favorites.

Mirelle Ortega/ HarperCollins Publishers

In her collection of Mexican fairytales, the illustrator reinterprets these classic stories. Incorporating symbols and imagery from the Latinidad, her ethnicity-bent upgrades offer a fresh and colorful take on timeless tales. With her Chiapas-styled Alice in Wonderland, Rapunzel with long, brown hair and Mexican Cinderella, Ortega created new takes for little Latinas to love.

It’s these images inspired by her home that Ortega would most like to be known for.

“I’ve been doing a lot of illustrations about my home back in Mexico and exploring themes that are a little more personal to me,” Ortega shared. “People have responded really positively to it. I actually get super emotional sometimes when people write to me and say things like they really identified with a drawing or that it brought back a lot of happy memories for them. They’re really personal drawings and to see other people share those emotions is mind-blowing.”

Ortega’s dream of becoming an artist has been actualized and her reflection of home is clear in every aspect of her art. As a society, our understanding of each other can only grow if more artists and creators follow a similar path. As we share pieces of ourselves, we share our cultural identities. Without a doubt, that’s the point of art.


Read: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Reveals Portrait Of New Congressman And Promises To Vote Against Nancy Pelosi

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below! 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Houston Artist is Bringing a Touch of Whimsy to Her Hometown

fierce

This Houston Artist is Bringing a Touch of Whimsy to Her Hometown

Art is often the manifestation of our emotions. It manifests the artist’s intentions and projects them onto the audience. Though we don’t all experience art in the same way, the visceral reaction we have to an especially moving work of art is universal. Through the lens of its artist, art makes us hope, feel as well as heal. For Texas-based Mexican-American artist Shelbi Nicole, the desire to share these feelings with her audience is what drives her to create.

Named one of Houston’s Top Ten artists back in 2014, Nicole is a Texas transplant originally from Oklahoma City. Using bold color and shapes, it’s her goal to put feel-good vibes out into her community. Working in a mix of media but a painter at heart, Nicole’s work can be seen all over her adopted home. Whether it’s through murals, in private and public art collections or through her newest interactive art installation, this artist is committed to drama and whimsy.

Recently, FIERCE caught up with Nicole to talk about the intention behind her lively art and see her latest installation.

For Shelbi Nicole, art was an instinctive passion to pursue even from an early age.

Instagram / @fiftyshadesofelishagray

In fact, the medium of painting became a therapeutic tool that helped the artist evolve into the woman she is.

“I have enjoyed creating since I was very young, which was when I discovered my love for painting,” Nicole told FIERCE. “I suffered from depression and found the benefits of painting to be extremely therapeutic. Painting has tremendously helped me combat depression and in a lot of ways been essential to my well being. Once I discovered the impact painting had on my life, I wanted to identify first and foremost as an artist.”

Drawn to abstract forms, Nicole traveled to France at 18 to study her craft. Exploring the numerous art museums Europe has to offer, she grew into herself as an artist. Her search to find her own voice as an artist took her to Miami. There, the vibrant colors of the South Florida Latinidad inspired her and made their way into her permanent color palette. Having found her signature style utilizing abstract shapes and vibrant colors, Nicole made her way to the University of Houston for her formal education.

“I think my constant exposure to so many different cultures has influenced my work,” Nicole explained. “Especially being back in Houston, the most diverse city in the U.S.”

Since then, Nicole has been a cornerstone of the local Houston art scene, literally leaving her mark all over the city.

Instagram / @shelbinicoledesigns

Putting her skills as a mural artist to the test, Nicole beautifies the Houston Metro through her work with Mini Murals. Mini Murals is a multi-city project aimed at bringing color to unsuspected places utilizing electrical boxes as mural space. The pop of unexpected art that these pieces bring to local neighborhoods is completely on message for this dynamic artist. With her mix of abstract and geometric shapes and bold use of color, Nicole has contributed a dozen mini murals to Houston.

Aside from her many projects with her own design firm, Nicole has collaborated with everyone from local artists to big name corporations.

Instagram / @shelbinicole
Houston Press / Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

“The last two years of my life have been some of my most successful, thus far, with my art endeavors,” Nicole proudly shared. Last December, the artist teamed up with jewelry designer Kendra Scott to create the “Korridor.” Next to the Kendra Scott jewelry store in the posh community of Rice Village, the bright mural space is a combination of Nicole’s colorful sensibilities and Scott’s elegant forms.

Another such collaboration matched Nicole with the largest rodeo in the world. The tremendous Texas event — once headlined by Selena herself — is also an opprotunity to take in arts and culture. This year, the artist won the opprotunity to paint in her own style a 6-foot tall ceramic boot for the Rodeo’s Boot Row. Nicole is only one of six artists chosen to execute a design for this piece that lines the Rodeo’s entrance.

Still, perhaps one of Nicole’s biggest collabs have been with coffee giant Café Bustelo.

Instagram / @shelbinicole

The Cuban coffee company established these pop-ups around the country for some time now. Not only do they bring their bold flavors, the pop-ups also invites emerging Latinx musicians and artists. For Nicole’s project, the people behind the iconic yellow can connected her with fellow Houston artist Gonzo247. At a Café Bustelo pop-up event in Houston’s art district, the two artists worked together to create a unique art piece to embody Latin flavor and culture.

While these accomplishments are impressive in their own right, the project that Nicole is most proud of has been five years in the making.

Instagram / @shelbinicole
Instagram / @thewhimsyworld_

A larger-than-life visual funhouse, Nicole’s newest exhibit — Whimsy World — is a colorful, interactive fantasy world. The exhibit debuted in Houston during February of 2019. It opened to rave reviews as Houstonians explored Shelbi’s brilliant dreamscape.

“What inspired me to create Whimsy World was an intense desire to showcase my work in a solo show that was unconventional and much more interactive,” Nicole explained. “I’d lost interest in traditional art shows and the lack of color in most gallery settings. I wanted people to be able to feel like they’re inside of one of my paintings rather than just standing back and looking at a canvas.”

The multi-experience installation spans several rooms, each with its own touches of magic. From a hand-welded claw foot tub and in-door rain cloud dripping with hundreds of crystals to the abstract paintings spilling over the canvas and onto the studio walls, every inch is art. Even the bathrooms — with their fierce boss lady Beyoncé motif — are a spot worthy of Instagram.

For Nicole, Whimsy World is a culmination of her artistic voice and the joy she hopes her art creates in others.

Instagram / @thewhimsyworld_
Instagram / @whimsyworld_

“I want to encourage everyone to understand the endless possibilities there are, when it comes to how we experience art,” the artist confessed. “It can be a feeling, a moment, a world that you enter that brings joy and elicits feel-good vibes. That is the intention of The Whimsy World and I hope everyone can experience its magic.”

For Nicole, the future is as bright as the art she creates. An extended version of Whimsy World will be debuting in Sugarland, Texas March 15th-April 27th. The installation will include 8+ brand new fixtures. The Sugarland show will also feature a new main attraction — a mirrored art room hand-crafted by the artist. Nicole is also planning to take Whimsy World to audiences beyond Texas.

Shelbi Nicole’s dedication to sharing her positivity and light with the world is evident whenever you see her art. It’s a reminder that through artistic creation, we can share who we are and what we want the world to be.


Read: It’s The Beginning Of The Year And Cardi B and Selena Gomez Have Already Topped Spotify’s Most-Streamed Female Artists

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

These Fantastical Book Illustrations By Latinas Are Worthy Of ‘Twilight’ And ‘Harry Potter’ Covers

Entertainment

These Fantastical Book Illustrations By Latinas Are Worthy Of ‘Twilight’ And ‘Harry Potter’ Covers

Social media has made it even easier for creators to share their art, ideas and techniques with each other and with art fans. Places like Instagram and Twitter are especially great platforms that help get unknown artists seen for the very first time. It is with that in mind that the #VisibleWomen hashtag was started.

Created back in 2016, #VisibleWomen was started by artist Kelly Sue DeConnick. The motivation behind the hashtag started because of the common narrative in the comic industry that there are no female artists. By using the hashtag, Twitter users are declaring that not only are there tons of women artists, but they are just as capable as their male counterparts.

Since it’s inception, #VisibleWomen has regularly trended and provided much deserved exposure to these artistas. The campaign has broadened to include artists of all kinds and from all over the world. There’s no denying the talent of these mujeres — especially the ones hailing from the Latinidad.

Here are 20 very talented Latina artists you’ve just got to check out.

1. Gloria Felix @GloriaFelixArt

Twitter / @Gloriafelixart

A LA-based Mexicana, Gloria Felix is an illustrator and visual development artist. Specializing in character development and environmental rendering, she is a freelancer and background artist at Darker Co. Studios. Felix’s work is embodied by the genuine and expressive characters captured in her slice-of-life illustrations.

2. Geraldine Rodriguez @GeryRdz

Twitter @Geryrdz

If the fantasy of fairy tales is your thing, the artwork of illustrator and digital artist Geraldine Rodriguez is just your speed. The Mexican artist specializes in Children’s Literature illustrations. Represented by Bright Agency, Rodriguez’s art is recognizable through her use of light and the whimsy of her subject matter.

3. Amanda Corona @sanagie

Twitter / @sanagie

With a subject matter and style that draws from pop culture, Mexican artist Amanda Corona brings her flare to freelance illustration. Definitely not afraid of color, her use of bright, complementary tones make her creations pop. Whether enjoying her original creations or her take on your favorite characters, Corona delivers a dynamic piece.

4. Vanessa Morales @phonemova

Twitter / @phonemova

Specializing in strong women and fantastic creatures, Vanessa Morales is a Mexican artist and illustrator. She works in Children’s Literature but also makes comic covers and games. Sporting lots of bright, complimentary color, Morales’ work focuses on fantasy, nature, and her Mexican culture. Be sure to check out her Mayan-inspired take on Sailor Moon.

5. Sofia Davila @sofa_sofiaa

Twitter / @sofa_sofiaa

Puerto Rican sequential artist Sofia Davila specializes in soft colors and highly stylized characters. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, she creates comics. Check out her comic “Retale” for a peek at her imaginative world and gorgeous characters.

6. @Monarobot

Twitter / @monarobot

Inspired by Mayan mythology and culture, Mexican artist Monarobot brings this aesthetic to all of her art. Located in Chiapas, she often takes recognizable characters from pop culture and gives them a Mayan upgrade. Monarobot also creates original takes on Mayan monsters — all in a style and color palette that will remind you of the lost empire.

7. Fanny Rodriguez @charratastic

Twitter / @charratastic

Mexican illustrator, designer, and writer Fanny Rodriguez mixes fantasy and fairy tale with unique style and bright colors. She currently produces her webcomic “Malicious Magic” but is soon to be published in print. Her graphic novel — “Fantastic Tales of Nothing” — is set to debut in 2020.

8. Alejandra Elena Gámez @themountainwith

Twitter / @themountainwith

Mexican comic artist and illustrator Alejandra Gámez excels at building worlds that are beautifully mythical as well as charmingly strange. She is the author and illustrator behind popular comic “The Mountain With Teeth.” In 2018, she published her first illustrated book — “Más allá de las ciudades” — which portrays an eerie, dream-like take on the world. Gámez is now working on her next book releases.

9. Nicole Janér @njjaner

Twitter / @njjaner

Brazilian illustrator and character designer Nicole Janér is a born story teller. With her cool-toned color palette, her creations portray her appreciation of mysteries and the mystical. It’s hard to tell what we love more: her uniquely stylized character designs or the fanart she creates of our favorite figures.

10. Amber Vucinich @mbrleigh

Twitter / @mbrleigh

It’s easy to recognize a piece created by Chilean-American artist Amber Vucinich. It’s got to have pink, it’s going to be bubbly and there’s a good chance you’ll recognize her subject matter. A storyboard revisionist on Disney’s animated series “Rapunzel’s Tangeled Adventure,” Vucinich has turned her love of fanart into a fulfilling career.

11. Hannah Cardosa @hannahcardosa

Twitter / @hannahcardosa

Freelance illustrator Hannah Cardosa creates her art from her home in Rio Janeiro, Brazil. Working in a limited color palette, Her depictions of the female form are anything but simple. The precise color choices and graceful arrangements found in her work are especially evident in her Mermaid series.

12. Mariana Avila @marinaavilal

Twitter @marianaavilal

Whether it’s Marvel, Star Wars, or Disney, Mexican artist Mariana Avila can create it. The freelance character artist and illustrator creates doe-eyed renditions of some of our favorite pop culture figures. Her seamless pattern works also show a talent that would be at home in Children’s Literature.

14. Karla Díaz @karladiazcomic

Twitter / @karladiazcomic

Chilean comic artist and illustrator Karla Díaz uses her adorably stylized characters to tell the stories of her comic worlds. The creator of comics “Non-Non,” “Coffee Shop” and “Cute Sins,” her work ranges from the cute to the Not Safe For Work. Diáz’s style and work is influenced heavily by Japanese manga and anime.

15. Juliana Motzko @julianamotzko

Twitter / @julianamotzko

Brazil’s Juliana Motzko makes work that she hope’s touches people’s hearts. Represented by the Bright Agency, the illustrator creates whimsical pieces that would be at home in a child’s picture book. If you check out her feed on social media, you’ll notice that Motzko has a soft spot for depicting animals — especially penguins.

16. Monique Alencar @pijamallama

Twitter / @pijamallama

Located in Brazil, Monique Alencar is a talented 2D artist with a knack for dynamic character designs. Specializing in comic covers and concept art, she uses a bright palette and various styles in her illustrations. While she’s very talented at depicting the human form, her illustrations of cats and dogs are what really caught our eye.

17. Karla Alcazar @ohhaikarla

Twitter / @ohhaikarla

Mexican illustrator Karla Alcazar uses a muted color palette, distinct style and delicate figure drawings to tell her stories. Dedicated to drawing girls and plant life, she is interested in editorial work and illustrating for Children’s Literature. Her sweet-faced figures might seem simple at first glance but detail is worked into every inch of her pieces.

18. Isadora Zeferino @imzeferino

Twitter / @imzeferino

With vibrant colors and her charming style, Brazil’s Isadora Zeferino creates worlds full of vivid magic. The freelance artist specializes in comic book covers, graphic novels, and editorial work. Though her Instagram feed is a thing of beauty, her art book is page after page of loveliness you’ll want to get your hands on.

19. Brenda Failache @BreFailache

Twitter / @BreFailche

Brazilian illustrator and 2D game artist Brenda Failache excels both in uncanny fanart and her own personal creations. A freelance illustrator, she loves to illustrate girls, game characters and all things Brazil. Failache also works creating images for educational games and book covers.

20. Victoria Maderna @vmaderna

Twitter / @vmaderna

Argentina’s Victoria Maderna is an illustrator and painter. Often working in gouache, she enjoys painting animals — both real and imaginary. Besides her cute and furry renditions, Maderna also creates comics dealing with the supernatural.


Read:Yalitza Aparicio Brought Her Mother To The Oscars And Other Incredible Things Latinas Did Last Night

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *