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, and libraries like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla 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.
Daniela Alvear is an illustrator and graphic designer.
What got you into visual arts?
Ever since I was a little girl I loved anime, especially series by Locomotion. I wouldn’t understand the stories a lot, but the character design would capture my attention. Afterwards, in school and college I continued studying arts and experimenting with various mediums.
What got you into design?
When I was 12 I joined an online forum and it was trendy to use signatures which were small characters modeled after characters from movies, series, anime and comics and since they looked so cute, I decided to create my own and that’s how I learned about Photoshop. Thus, I started working with the program, took a bunch of tutorials and made a lot of signatures about my favorite series for various years. Now I don’t do signatures, but I create flyers complemented with my illustrations and everything related to graphic design.
How did you develop your style?
The intention with my work is bring a light on internal struggle and mental health, so I create characters who are in constant struggle or are weird in some way. On the other hand, I like to apply contrasts with these characters by using colors like pink, yellow and gold. Of course, I don’t always focus on this, I also like to draw my cats because they are beautiful and I love them.
How has it evolved through the years?
As time passes, I practice new mediums. Before I used Copic markers, now I use the digital medium and gouache because I want to make larger pieces and with markers that was difficult to do. Getting access to various tools has allowed me to move my work to various places while experimenting with other mediums. On the other hand, my interests change which change the topics I explore. I’ve learned about human beings and their thought processes, which inspire me and modify the way I present it in my illustrations. I think the art classes I’ve taken in various universities have aided the way I present anatomy, use of color and now in YouTube one can find various artists who share their work and that’s something I’ve adapted too.
What are some of your influences and inspirations?
One of my influences in illustration is Francisca Meneses, a freelance Chilean illustrator based in New York and her work is simple yet beautiful. In Instagram, we always huge and super detailed images and one thinks “I don’t draw like that, why should I continue?” But Meneses showed me that it wasn’t necessary to be super detailed in order to convey a message. I identified with her and now I follow her through YouTube and Patreon. I also love the work by Maruti Bitamin, her work with patterns, clothing design, sceneries, and others is all beautiful. I highly recommend everybody check out her work. Omocat also has very interesting illustrations and I like them because they are weird and have very contrasting colors. I also love Mariangela Sierra because of her weird work. Asumiko Nakamura and Hikari Shimoda also inspire me. In the field of “traditional art” I love the work by Egon Schiele. I am also inspired by what I read about behaviour, photography, fashion and cats.
Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?
Lately, I’ve been working with sculptures made out of polymer clay. It is very interesting getting my illustrations out there in a 3-D form so they can serve as decoration. I’m working on a piece I want to share soon. I’m also interested in muralism so I can see a piece in a larger scale while reviving a space. Photography and videos-making also interest me but I haven’t explored them yet.
What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?
There are great artists here; muralists, illustrators, photographers, artisans and musicians with enormous amount of talent. However, there needs to be more support by the government. For example, the Escuela de Artes Plasticas de Puerto Rico is being abandoned and when I was there I had to leave because I was disappointed and it wasn’t what I expected.
What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?
It is always moving and that’s great. Now there are events that support more artists such as the Thursdays in Río Piedras and the Tintero, which came back. Nevertheless, events like Tintero, which are like the CAKE Festival in Chicago or the HIFEST in Hastings, are few and I feel like there could be more as well as other exhibitions for artists not well known. It is great to see new names in art event because it shows that new faces are given opportunities.
If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?
I would tell her to continue drawing, it’s okay to go slow and taking breaks. I would tell her that sometimes she can feel pressure, but that shouldn’t encourage you to stop doing what you love. She should also have friends she can count on to share her work with. Finally, she should try to learn by herself and take advantage of the internet.
What is your biggest goal right now?
It might sound silly, but I just want to dedicate myself to my work. With college and work it’s difficult to work on all of my projects. I have many art projects in mind, but time just isn’t enough, so for now that’s the goal. I wanna completely focus on that and get better in my sculpting skills.
What do you seek to achieve with work?
For myself, explore myself and see everything I can do with my abilities. For others, for them to identify or to be happy when they see the work. For example, when they see an illustration of my cat Carlos, I always smile; I want others to feel the same. I would love to take my illustrations to other big medium and present them to others. Finally, and of course, I would love to live out of my art.