Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: Yasmín Flores Montañez

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.

Yasmín Flores Montañez is a freelance visual storyteller/illustrator doing comics, concept art, and storyboards in the communication arts field.

What got you into the visual arts?

I got into drawing because of Japanese animation and 1990’s X-Men comics when I was younger. I did my bachelors in Art History and Foreign Languages at the University of Puerto Rico, but I realized after graduating that I had an untapped passion for crafting stories that I had to pursue. Thus, I got into the Sequential Art MFA program at SCAD.

How did you develop your style?

Looking at real life reference, while also admiring other professional artists who were trending as I grew up. That got me to experiment and mix things from the real world with a more stylized approach.

How has it evolved through the years?

My figures used to be very stiff and my line art wasn’t consistent. Now, my figures are more dynamic with line art that is clean and consistent. Overall, I’m always experimenting, taking more risks, and practicing non-stop. All of this has allowed my style and artwork to evolve with dynamism.

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

My first one has nothing to do with what I do, but I love Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculptures. I fell in love with his work when I was still in my second year of undergrad at the UPR. As for sequential artists and illustrators, I really love the work of Fiona Staples, Olivier Coipel, Clay Mann, and Jen Bartel.  



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

I’m pursuing the communication arts, that is comic books, storyboards, and concept art in the field of sequential art, illustration, and animation. But my first pick will always be comics, just because I have worlds of fun working and drawing epic sceneries from home!  

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

Puerto Rico is a beautiful place with equally beautiful talented people. You can find any type of artist in our little island and that’s wonderful. It’s sad that the government and I’ll say a lot people don’t understand the importance of learning art. Humanities in general develop different aspects of our brains that science and math just can’t. Cutting funds to the arts, which is also happening in the USA, is just discouraging and ultimately will hurt more future generations. Without art, we can’t have creative individuals who would look at problems differently. We won’t have creative solutions that will ultimately hurt our society. You can’t have everyone be the same. That won’t work.



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

The independent art scene is growing so fast in all the fields! So it’s definitely exciting to have multiple places and events in the island that support the independent art scene. People in the independent art scene take more risks. We are not afraid to be who we are, and that’s what makes the work that’s been produced so interesting and wonderful.



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

Just go for it. Don’t let people discourage you. Being an artist is not hard. It’s just a lot of networking, but honestly, isn’t that what we do in all jobs?

What is your biggest goal right now?

To craft stories that create social awareness and work for companies like Image, Marvel or DC Comics.  



What do you seek to achieve with work?

I want to establish a legit industry back home. I want to acquire all the skills I can from different artists and start producing books like the companies I mentioned. Why can’t we do that? Because of failure? Marvel Comics was in bankruptcy so many times, so why not? There’s the talent. All we need to do is put the work in.


All of the pictures in this article were provided by Yasmin Flores Montañez