For this article in the international artist series, we turn to Puerto Rico, featuring six artists who create fantastic work, from illustration to graphic design and more! I asked each artist how their country and culture inspired their work, and they delivered fantastic answers. Enjoy!
Ivy is an illustrator and digital artist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She creates beautiful digital paintings that feature wildlife with incredible detail. Check out a small selection of her work below or see more in her portfolio.
The Post Card
There are many things I love about this island. I was born and raised here. My mom was native to the island and she met my father when she was living in NYC. When they married, she wanted to come back to the island to make her family.
I grew up on an island that is very diverse. People are very friendly and welcoming. You get the feeling that you are in an extended family. People help each other and there's people trying to do what they can to still live a prosperous life on the island by not giving up.
Puerto Rican Ground Lizard
Puerto Rico has inspired me in so many ways. There's always a vibrancy in the culture that I know is within me and it speaks out in my work. I still search around every day to see what new things I can find and how they inspire me.
Ave Con Sus Hijos
The Dapper Pug
There are a few different art communities. You got the high art community that loves to be in the old city teaching the youth what art is and how it can be manifested. Then there's the graffiti community showing the masses that there's other voices that need to be heard in different mediums. Lastly, you have the more obscure minimalists, the hipster graphic designers and the nerdy game-loving expressive artists that simply love drawing what they love.
Abimael is a freelance graphic designer based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His work features gorgeous 3D illustrations full of conceptual meaning and beautiful imagery. Check out a small selection of his work below or see more in his portfolio.
One of the main things I love about living in Puerto Rico is the great amount of beautiful, colorful things around me. Things like the beaches, the handwritten signs, the architecture, the murals, and, most importantly, the people. Being surrounded by so many beautiful things makes me feel alive and inspired to make more things that, in a way, represent my culture and the way I see these things.
The culture has influenced me a lot because Puerto Rico is filled with a lot of different forms of art like graffiti, sculpture, performances, mosaics, graphics, and many others. So seeing all of these things around me all my life has influenced my work a lot. I know what my art means to me, but what it means to the people around me and how it affects them interests me more because I can see how our culture has influenced them.
36 Days of Type
The art community here is very big. I think due to the richness of our culture, most Puerto Ricans really like art and understand the importance of it. We have a great amount of events that celebrate art such as Santurce es Ley, Los Muros Hablan, Arecibo Street Art Project, and others. We have also received visits from many international artists like Conor Harrington, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Axel Void, and D*Face.
Carolina Espinal Beato
Carolina is a graphic designer based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She creates vibrant vector designs full of color and texture as well as creative logos. Check out a small selection of her work below or see more in her portfolio.
AZ Studio Logo
For me, Puerto Rico is a real enchanted island. What I love most about living here is the tropical climate that allows you to do any outdoor activity in almost any season of the year. Puerto Rico is a small island in the Caribbean that offers a wide scope of adventures and experiences to enjoy with friends and family. One of my favorite places is the Old San Juan, a 500 year old historical city with a magical atmosphere and beautiful bright-colored buildings.
This island has a vibrant, modern, and unique multicultural society that offers a great diversity of experiences. This paired with the bright colors found in the environment, as well as the warmness of the people has greatly inspired me. Another thing that inspired my artwork is the mixture of cultural elements that have been introduced to the island from other places, such as the North American culture that was brought to the island with the arrival of the US in the late nineteenth century.
Currently, the art community on the island is reemerging. Despite the financial problems of the island, a new wave of Puerto Rican artists are joining forces with movements such as "Santurce es Ley," which seeks to exhibit contemporary art and revitalize the Santurce area (formerly known as the "Arts District") in a creative way. This new wave of artists also seeks to expose new generations of young people to the local arts culture.
Jan P. Reyes
Jan is a freelance artist specializing in graphic design and illustration who is based in Ponce, Puerto Rico. His work features electrifying designs showcasing his love of color and natural elements. Check out a small selection of his work below or see more in his portfolio.
Everything in Puerto Rico is beautiful, especially the beaches, but there's one thing I love the most and that is being able to be around my family and friends.
I think both the culture and region influenced the way I use color in a sense. There's an event in my city called "Carnaval de Ponce." One of the traditions of the Carnaval is the use of colorful masks made out of paper mache and everything about it is dope.
Colors - Helmet
Colors - Portrait
The art community has started to grow a lot over the past year. Everybody should take a look at the event called "Santurce es Ley." There's a lot of talented artists out right now on the island.
Olga is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Her work features colorful vector illustrations of fun cartoon characters with her own signature design. Check out a small selection of her work below or see more in her portfolio.
The thing I love about living here in Puerto Rico is the amazing mix between cities, mountains, and beaches. Everywhere I go, I know it won't take long before I find a beach or a great spot to relax under a tree. Also the people are very interesting and great to chat with.
Since we are a combination of Africans, Indians ("tainos"), and Latinos, I find it very interesting all the different ways people express themselves through art. In my case it's with drawings and illustrations. I find it so hard to stick with a specific style, although most of my designs have a lot of colors. I can't deny my love for the tropical colors.
Lost in Perfection
There's a strong artistic presence among Puerto Ricans, although a lot of events involving art tend to be more inclined to "traditional art." Puerto Ricans like to encourage those with great art skills to move and do something with their art. So it's my time to encourage anyone who's reading this:
If you are learning to draw, paint, record, film, or whatever you're learning―keep doing it. Don't listen to those who say "You won't make it" or "You won't make a living out of it." Go the extra mile, and learn even the things you think you will never use, because you will, trust me. Not everything will be peaches and cream, but you'll learn a lot and it will take you to the place where you always dreamed you would be (artistically speaking). I'm in that moment, I'm just 24 and I know you'll get there too. Hopefully earlier. I believe in your talent.
Israel is an illustrator and caricature artist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His incredibly detailed digital work features hilarious caricature illustrations of pop culture icons and notable Puerto Rican people. Check out a small selection of his work below or see more in his portfolio.
Oscar López Rivera
We Puerto Ricans are known to be passionate about our roots, folklore, accomplished athletes, musicians, and actors. We have abundant forests, rivers, beaches, and dreamlike landscapes. I had the privilege to study at the School of Plastic Arts and Design of Puerto Rico. Studying there is an unconditional source of inspiration because of its cultural diversity, historic architecture, and the Atlantic ocean that surrounds it. Daily adventures from the countryside to the former Spanish capital are like traveling in a time machine. Most of all, I know that Puerto Rico will always hold the peak of my tranquility.
Marcus Ulpius Traianus
When I was little, my first source of inspiration for drawing caricatures was the social commentary that was published in the local newspapers. I got into movements behind social protests, and if I was fighting for something it was for the awakening of each individual.
This blasted me off through philosophical and mystical experiences, and eventually to my development as an independent entity, which I extrapolated to the revival of my art. Interpreting myself through dreams, poems, and drawings led me back to my childhood when I enjoyed drawing imaginative characters and portraits of random people. I always learn something through the eyes of another, and this kind of maturity in my creative process is something I have acquired through the confrontation of all the beauty and decay of my own culture.
Through the analysis of the techniques and styles of other Puerto Rican caricaturists, I first synthesized and applied them to my ongoing style of digital caricature. The public forum of caricature in my country is concentrated in social media where you can share your own work, but it has to be relevant and limited to the chosen Puerto Rican character.
The term we use in our country for that person who finds you the opportunity of your lifetime is called “la pala” (the shovel in Spanish). But I wanted to taste other experiences and go outside the boundaries, so I discovered international forums of caricature, such as Caricaturama Showdown 3000. There I met extraordinary artists from whom I’m still learning from to this day. This exploration in the outer world led me to belong to renowned sites such as the Mad Artist Publishing’s Illustration Vault, Fran Moreno’s Caricaturas de Famosos, as well as a feature on the cover of a magazine.
Many thanks to the artists who took time to answer my questions and share a bit about themselves and how their country and/or culture has affected their work. You can check out more of their work in the links below: