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.
Rosa Colón is a sequential artist and illustrator.
What got you into the arts?
I’ve drawn since I was a kid. I liked making my own characters and crappy comics.
What got you into comics?
Like drawing, I was exposed to comics from the beginning. I read Mafalda, Peanuts, Archie and other comic strips and eventually graduated to superhero comics and then to more adult stuff. I like reading a lot and comics were just as valid as novels in my house.
How did you develop your style?
I’m always experimenting with digital tools and analog art materials. I like to use brush pens, and mess with color. After a while all those little idiosyncrasies added up to a style. But I’m always changing and refining it.
How has it evolved through the years?
I’m a bit self conscious of my art style because I feel I tend to stray whenever I find something new that excites me. But it has matured I think, especially storytelling in my comics. I feel more comfortable setting a scene and mood.
What are some of your influences and inspirations?
There’s too many! I stalk a lot of people on Twitter and Instagram – there’s so much great art out in the world! I love Puerto Rico’s illustration scene too, my peers are awesome.
Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?
I would like to give animation a try as an art director or showrunner.
How did Festival Tintero come about? What is its purpose?
Carla, my partner in life and comics, and I have participated in indie comic cons in the U.S. (MoCCA Fest, MICE, CAKE*) and Canada (TCAF**) and we felt there was nothing like those cons in Puerto Rico. Indie cons focused on local artists where the quality of the work is celebrated. So in 2014, we collaborated with people from the comic scene and made Tintero. It’s curated and we select the best participants. We give out prizes for Best Comic, Mini Comic and Zine. Before María, we awarded little scholarships so artists could publish. Tintero is all about making the artists feel good so they’ll produce more stuff. I think because Carla and I are part of the indie scene and we are also fans, we try to make Tintero as special as possible for everyone.
* Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Fest, Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo, Chicago Alternative Comic Expo
** Toronto Comic Art Fest
What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?
I think there’s a lot of great artists in all the fields. There might be some gatekeeping but hopefully, up-and-coming artists will break those barriers and not close the door behind them. If any art scene is to survive this mess -financial crisis and Maria’s aftermath- artists need to collaborate and pull each other up.
What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?
For a while, I thought the indie scene would be decimated by the mass migration and María but I think it’s rallying. It took a year! But there are more art expos and shows cropping up and that’s good. A lot of artists quit their day jobs to focus on making art. I am one of those. I didn’t want to let opportunities pass me by. I think the indie scene is re-energizing and I expect great things to happen.
If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?
This happens more often than you think! I always tell them to just start making comics or any type of art. Learn by doing and find the path they most enjoy. There are no rules, we all make our own rules.
What is your biggest goal right now?
I want to make a graphic novel. A proper long format story. I am working towards that and I hope it happens in the near future.
What do you seek to achieve with work?
I want to tell stories that make people feel things. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, I want to take readers on a journey.
All of the pictures in this article were provided by Rosa Colón of Soda Pop Comics.