Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: Nahir Alejandra Mercado Feliciano (Alero)

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.

Nahir Alejandra Mercado Feliciano, known as Alero due to her brand, likes making drawings, stickers, shirts and tote bags; her favorite of all being stickers.

What got you into visual arts?

It was all very out of the blue. I stopped drawing when I was like eight years old because I thought I couldn’t do anything beautiful. In a stress filled, coffee fueled night, around May of 2018, I made a drawing to clear my mind and continue studying. When I saw that I could actually make something pretty, I got inspired and took it as a personal challenge to retake that activity I’d forgotten so many years ago.

What got you into clothing?

It was the product of a conversation. I saw one of my drawings and said:

- “This would look so cute in a shirt!”

And my boyfriend said:

-“Then do it.”

I just commented that, but as soon as those words came out of his mouth it became a plan.

 

How did you develop your style?

I don’t know how to describe my style because I have so many things to learn and I like to experiment with new tools and techniques in every drawing. I just try to make drawings that capture my personality, a message I want to send or what I’m feeling at that moment.

How has it evolved through the years?

Well I still haven’t reached a year, but through time it has changed what it means for me. What started as a way to pass time became a way to inspire others and myself, and to make a change. It has been a challenge and a time of growth for me because I like to bring love and positivity into each drawing and by bringing it into the drawing I aspire to bring it into my life and others.

 

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

My biggest inspiration is Antonio Mabs (m because there is so much love in what he does and you can easily see it in his art and personality. He inspires me to believe in myself, to appreciate the things I do and to bring a positive change to others. In terms of influence, I get more influenced by music than by looking and the works of other artists. I like to draw while listening to whichever song or artist fits with my mood at the moment and the drawing (which can range from Jarabe de Palo to Bach to Rawayana). While drawing I also like to listen to MabsArts podcasts.

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

I’d like to take a shot with culinary arts because cooking truly makes me so happy. I like the process of creating things from scratch and people enjoying the result. That is my wish, but I don’t think I’ll pursue it any time soon because it doesn’t click with my professional goals; I want to study medicine.

 

 

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

It’s a difficult time for most people in Puerto Rico and I can’t tell if it’s a positive or negative influence for art. On one end, some people have lost interest in music shows and artisan things; there’s been a general depreciation of art. On the other end, in midst of the crisis in the island, art has become an important tool to connect. It is a tool for me to connect with everyone who sees my art, for my audience and followers to connect with their feelings, and a way for me to reconnect with myself.

Being an artist in present day Puerto Rico is challenging, but it can be very inspiring! In the independent scene, there’s a lot of people willing to help you; who want to see you thrive and grow through the process. It’s a support system.

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

Never doubt yourself. Don’t compare yourself. Everything you do is unique and beautiful. Don’t be afraid to show people who you are or what you think because you are irreplaceable; you can’t be copied. Do everything you love and makes you happy and surround yourself with people who believe you can do great things.

 

What is your biggest goal right now?

My biggest goal right now is to incorporate my art with my professional goals and have a balance. Easier said than done! I want to practice. I want to learn. My biggest goal is to feel like I can take any inspiration in my mind and transform it into something beautiful. This is because my biggest struggle right now is that many times I have an idea of a drawing I want to do and it plays beautifully in my mind, but when I try to actually draw it, it doesn’t come out as expected and I get frustrated.

What do you seek to achieve with work?

I want to inspire people to be themselves, love themselves, find themselves. I want people who see my art to feel like they know me even if they’ve never talked to me because they can see something genuine. I want to create art that makes you feel better, even if it’s just a little bit.

All of the pictures in this article were provided by Nahir Alejandra Mercado Feliciano