Duration: Ten months as a full-time freelancer. I started in February of 2020.
Location: Brooklyn, New York.
Education: BFA in communications design, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.
Career path: Growing up in Miami, I spent a lot of time watching animated movies, taking extracurricular art classes and drawing. I originally planned to move to California for school and then work in animation, but I ended up at Pratt Institute on a whim. Though Pratt was actually my last choice of the four art schools I applied to, ultimately, it was the best decision I made for myself. After graduating, I was very lost for about a year, but then I got a job as an in-house illustrator for online media company Dotdash. Unfortunately, I was later let go as part of its bulk layoff on Valentine’s Day in 2020. However, throughout my time at Dotdash, I had freelance work coming in thanks to the promotions I was doing on the side. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was initially terrified that my work would dry up, but my freelance career has actually grown—and I feel very lucky and privileged for that.
Now, I create editorial pieces for a variety of clients, such as the Guardian, the New York Times and The New Yorker. The assignments I get tend to be emotional in terms of subject matter, which I think, due to the world becoming more emotionally heightened during 2020, has led to me getting more work.
Artistic influences: My work is influenced by my childhood in Miami, a place with a rich visual vocabulary in terms of colors and forms. I’m trying to brush up on Cuban art history as a means of inspiration; I’ve had a few relatives say they see Cuba in my work, and I’m trying to figure out what achieves that feeling and how to amplify it. With the ongoing quarantine, I’ve also been trying to watch films that I hadn’t gotten around to seeing; I’ve become interested in director Jean-Luc Godard’s films due to his strongly considered sense of composition and color.
Favorite projects: My personal work, in which I explore figures, negative space and many other things that I end up applying to my commissioned work. Pressure-free projects can be rewarding and healthy, so I make it a priority to make work on my own time, even if I don’t share them with anyone. I’m excited about two upcoming identity-based projects that involved new ways of collaborating: one involving queer fiction and another involving my relationship with masculinity and my Cuban heritage.It’s always a pleasure for me when making art becomes less of a lonely process.
Approach: I hope my work stands out for its sensitivity, whether it’s how I approach an intense subject conceptually, how my figures interact gently within a piece or how a color successfully performs with the others around it. I also like how my work can get away with abstraction; I get excited by the idea of making a beautiful image that challenges the viewer.
Aspirations: One day, I’d love to be an art director for a publication or brand and have my work live in the realms of fashion and music. Teaching is also something I would love to do, since I had some impactful mentors in college. In May, I did my first guest lecture and critique over Zoom for two Rhode Island School of Design freshman classes. It was such a lovely experience. With the conversations happening in our industry involving equity and fair pay, I hope to be in a position where I can help carry the torch for people in the future.
Philosophy: My guiding force is being honest, working hard and making the best use of the resources I have at hand, which I’ve learned from observing my immigrant parents my whole life.
Anything else? Having my freelance career and the quarantine coincide with one another, I’ve realized the importance of eating good food to keep you happy and mentally engaged. I know many creatives that don’t prioritize that, but I promise that if you take a break to make yourself a plate of black beans, rice, plantains and a little salad, you will make better work. Guaranteed.