I grew up on the poor side of one of the richest counties in America. And I'll be honest, living by the water was really beautiful.
So much so that I reveled in the beauty of my seaport hometown, with its old Victorian architecture and vintage nautical charm. This is where I fell in love with design, and I didn't even know it.
As a young black and Puerto Rican woman, though, I soon realized there was no space for me in the local art scene. But I didn't care. Politics aside, I, like many people like me, just wanted to express myself freely.
So I found the internet instead.
A Call for More Cultural Inclusion
We're lucky enough to live in a time where we have more access to
artists than ever before. Culture and a sense of consciousness for the things that are different than us are important to developing a more diverse and compassionate society. A society where new artists are welcomed with open arms each day regardless of race, gender, or religion.
Lessons From a Few of the Greats
Powerful artists like Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, and Jean-Michel Basquiat all have something in common. They poured their love of their respective cultures into their inspiring work. Salvador, for example, attributed his love of art to his Arab lineage, while Frida paid homage to her beautiful Mexican heritage. Lastly, Basquiat celebrated black culture at a time when, quite frankly, we needed to learn how to celebrate ourselves.
You see, art is a reflection of the artist. When we actually take the time to learn more about art, we also learn more about the different types of people that populate our world.
Design With Purpose
There's no question that history has made it hard for the untold stories of many to surface. But we have the opportunity now to change this dialogue and include our own.
One way to do this is to design with purpose. Create with the purpose of celebrating the events, people, and things of different cultures and backgrounds. Here are just a few examples from our authors.
- Global InfluencesHow to Create a Set of Veil and Hijab Avatars in Adobe IllustratorMiss Chatz*
- Photo ManipulationHow to Create an Abstract Vietnamese Woman Portrait in Adobe PhotoshopJenny Le
- IllustrationHow to Create 'Eid Mubarak' Money Cards for Kids in Adobe IllustratorMiss Chatz*
- PortraitHow to Paint a Bold, Glowing, Colorful Portrait in Adobe PhotoshopMelody Nieves
4 Artists You Should Know
The truth is... we need more role models for all of us.
So here are a few artists you should definitely get to know. We hope to bring you more artists from different backgrounds and perspectives in future articles.
I'm a freelance artist who works predominately in Adobe Illustrator. I've been freelancing for about 12 years after graduating from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor's degree in Traditional Animation. I've worked with companies such as Mattel and Jakks Pacific, creating character concept art and editing content. I enjoy creating and I was very fortunate to have a supportive mother and grandmother growing up.
The River Mermaid
My style is inspired a bit from early Lisa Frank art and color. I was also inspired by Al Hirschfeld as well as Disney art from a very early age. I pull inspiration from everything around me, especially animals, songs, and even my art friends. Seeing them grow and develop encourages me to work just as hard.
Rainbow and Starlite
I have tons of artists that I look up to. I'm a huge fan of Artgerm, Kelle Riley, and J. Scott Campbell come to mind on my long list, but lately my friends have been my biggest inspiration. The best part about admiring your friends and their styles is that they're encouraging you right back. You know their personal struggles, and how they'll dig in their heels to keep moving forward. I can't see better inspiration than that.
Kenneth J. Franklin
Next up is Kenneth J. Franklin. A portrait artist and illustrator, his work reflects his incredible attention to detail. Learn more about his work below or check out more from his portfolio.
I am an artist from Mississippi specializing in illustration and portraiture. I got my Master’s in Fine Art Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010. Since then I’ve been primarily working as a portrait artist for the last few years.
I create digital illustrations which tend to look cartoony, while my portraiture is rooted in traditional ink, watercolor, and colored pencil techniques.
Watercolor With Colored Pencils
I love creating art. It’s what I was put on this Earth to do, and I want my work to show a certain level of enjoyment. When someone looks at something I’ve created, I want them to see faces full of expression, colors that are bright and bold, and brushwork full of movement.
There are shades of Pop Art, early 1900s French fashion illustration, and current trends of graphic design minimalism in my work. I am all over the place stylistically, generally because I draw my inspiration from whatever I find cool and expressive.
My favorite artists are Robert McGinnis, David Downton, Rene Gruau, Coby Whitmore, and Tim Sale, with dozens and dozens more.
The beauty of the digital age is that we can share art from all over the world. But it would be nice if there was some way we could get the general public to give art its appropriate monetary value. Unfortunately, people often want quality art but are not willing to pay for it. We provide a service that not only adds joy and catharsis to lives, but can also inspire entire generations.
Next is Pei-Hsin Cho, a storyteller and illustrator from Taipei, whose work is filled with incredible allure and mood. Check our her beautiful illustrations below and see more in her portfolio.
Sometimes Words Hurt
I am from Taiwan. I graduated from college last year, with an animation degree. Drawing by hand with a pencil is my passion and the root of all art making for me. I love the feeling of a pencil rubbing on paper as it wanders into the grey zone between black and white. Recently, I’ve tried to use more color to finish my creations.
I am sensitive to interpersonal relationships so most of my work is based on my experiences or observations. I think the invisible boundaries and distances between individuals are very attractive, and I try to depict these complicated emotions in my works.
Two of my favorite artists are the director of Hedgehog in the Fog, Yuriy Norshteyn, and the Swedish illustrator, John Bauer. Their masterpieces are delicate and elegant. But even though I am attracted to these kind of works, I don't favor one specific type of art style.
Last we have Magdiel Lopez, an artist and creative director from Cuba. His electric work features bold designs with vibrant colors and unique concepts. Check out his below or see more in his portfolio.
Still a Kid
I've always had an affinity for art, from a very young age I found it really easy to express myself through painting or any other visual art form. At the age of 13 I started getting into digital arts and it was a great outlet for me. Being from Cuba, a country with limited resources and no access to internet, I had to teach myself how to use every software by looking at magazines or book covers and imitating it as much as possible.
In God We Trust
I became an artist by falling in love with expression and the liberating feeling of putting your thought and feelings out there through visual components.
I would describe my work as an expression of everyday conflicts, feelings and experiences. It's hopeful, sad, and happy. I definitely like to think that it makes a statement and makes people feel something.
I'm a Huge fan of Dali. The Spanish painter has always inspired me with his amazing ability to share the deepest meanings with the most basic and simple everyday objects. I also love Henri Matisse because I think his paintings and cutouts are the foundation of design as we know it.
Send Us Your Favorite Artists
Help us find more incredible artists from different backgrounds to share with our audience! Tweet me your recommendations at MelloNieves or use the hashtag #artforall on Twitter and Instagram. You never know, we may just feature you in our next article.
I'd like to extend a warm thank you to all the artists who participated in this feature. Feel free to see more of their work in the links below: