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Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: Claudia Rubín

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPRM chapter.



With the internet being so easy to access, it has become easier for independent artists to find an audience and let their work be known. As a result, a variety of movements, collectives, and scenes have found a way to pave their path. The independent art scene in Puerto Rico is no different. Recently, many artists from a variety of disciplines have found platforms that have made it easier for them to share their work. In addition, small businesses such as Electroshock in Santurce and Rio Piedras, bars like Off The Wall in Mayaguez, book stores like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla, Libros AC in Santurce and Libros 787 online, and independent festivals like Feria de Libros Independientes y Alternativos and Tintero: Festival de Cómics y Arte Independiente de Puerto Rico have provided up-and-coming artists a space to display their talents. “Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene” is a series of  interviews that provides a glimpse at some of the women who have recently gained recognition in the art scene. Though the artists are asked similar questions, some are asked queries surrounding their work, specifically.

Claudia Rubín is a graphic designer.

What got you into the digital arts?

Currently, I work as a designer for The New York Times Magazine (in print). While I enjoy digital arts, it’s not my focus. I got into print design during my sophomore year of college.

What got you into design?

I grew up with two art director parents who work in advertising, so I was always exposed to design. I started saying I wanted to be a designer when I was about 9 years old — the type of designer I wanted to be was always changing though. I finally decided on graphic design when I learned about all the things you could do with it.

How did you develop your style?

Right now, working in magazines, I don’t really have a style. I design for the story at hand and do my best to give it the right tone and voice. I try to be conceptual whenever I can get away with it — I think it comes from growing up in an advertising household.

How has it evolved through the years?

Rather than evolve, I hope I’ve just improved. A designer should be able to adapt to whatever, I think. Graphic design, unlike other forms of design, is less about self expression and more about effective (hopefully cool looking) communication. I’m making it sound boring and square, but it’s actually really fun.

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

Well, everything. Graphic design only exists to support a bigger idea or thing and make it look good. ~All designers say this~ but I’m more inspired by culture, art and my surroundings than by graphic design itself. Specifically working in magazines, I’m constantly inspired by words — which can make things super hard or super fun.

Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?

Not a different form of art, but I’m always up to use what I already do in new ways. Not only design, but photography as well. In my personal work, that’s something I want to push.

What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?

I care about this subject deeply but I feel I can only speak from what I read, see and hear (I live and work in New York and don’t experience it first hand). Puerto Rico has been going through hard socio political and economic times for a while now. Sadly, there has never really been financial support in the arts from the government, even though artists have so much to offer. While hurricane María brought a lot of pain, it also forced people to fight for themselves and create to survive — including artists. I believe it will take supporting and promoting each other to truly thrive. The internet helps too. I’m always learning about new artists on social media.


What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?

The independent art scene in Puerto Rico right now brings me so much hope and joy, and makes me wish I was home. It’s made up of a new generation of artists who support each other and create together. Puerto Rican artists have always brought something unique to the table, but something about this generation feels different. There is a drive to be seen and heard, together and around the world, that is very inspiring.

If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?

Stay driven, focused, and inspired. It’s really important to always remember that everyone has an individual journey in their career and life. Comparing your successes and failures to others is never useful. Everything is possible with discipline, patience and an open mind. There isn’t one way of doing things in this industry.

What is your biggest goal right now?

To create more for myself and to keep shooting.

What do you seek to achieve with work?

Designing is fun, and designing in journalism specifically gives me a sense of purpose. Right now I just want to keep doing what I enjoy, take more risks and use design in new and different ways.


All of the pictures in this article were provided by Claudia Rubín

Fernando E. E. Correa González is the author behind over 20 self-published poetry books. He has been published by literary magazines & journals [Id]entidad, El Vicio del Tintero, Sábanas Magazine, Smaeralit and Tonguas. Other than writing, Correa is also a filmmaker, podcaster, photographer and master’s student. He currently lives in his native Puerto Rico.