—Introduction and Interview by Bianca Betancourt @ByBiancaBee
Instagram can often be one’s best friend and worst enemy. It’s always there for me when I need to mindlessly scroll and pass time whilst at the orthodontist/riding the bus/refusing to clock into work ten minutes early. It also can be that frienemy everyone has that’s rich, gets to brunch every weekend and goes to Paris for their birthday. After years of following too many sponsored bloggers on my feed, I’ve been quickly transitioning my “follow-ship” to a group of creatives across the globe, who’s bright, punchy profiles inspire my day rather than dampen it.
Enter Gabriella, who’s tongue-in-cheek and spunky art and illustrations captured the attention of one of the internet’s biggest accessory shops, Ban.do. The Los Angeles based Latina graciously answered a few questions for CIRCUS so we could learn more about the maker behind the art.
BB : Who is Gabriella Sanchez?
GS : Woah! Well that’s THE question isn’t it? I’m definitely still figuring out “who Gabriella Sanchez is” and every time I think I’ve had some self epiphany I forget it the next day. I should probably journal.
Anyways, in terms of what I’d put in an about me section, here are a few words that would be included: graphic designer, illustrator, contemporary visual artist, latina, girl, feminist, looking for something but not sure what. Oh! And lots and lots of movies.
BB : How did you get into design/art direction?
GS : I kinda fell into it but like a reeeally slow motion fall over years.
I always liked art as a kid but I never had much formal instruction outside of the free introductory classes my mom would find in the newspaper. When high school came around I signed up for every art elective we had but even then I never once thought “This is what I want to do." Not because I didn’t want to do it but because it honestly hadn't crossed my mind that I could do it. I didn’t know anyone, distant family friend or other, that did anything remotely creative as a career.
When it was time to go to college I still had no idea what I wanted to do… well, that’s not quite it. I had no idea what I could possibly do. I entered college as a child development major because I thought, well, the only real experience I have is babysitting kids and I didn’t hate it so maybe that’s what I was meant to do. Oh God, this is really bringing it back. It makes me cringe a little. I don’t envy college freshmen. Choosing a life path at eighteen is so intense. Some people can do it and that’s great but I definitely was not one of them.
Anyway, after a year as a child development major I took one art elective but even then I didn’t think it’d turn into anything. Since most of the people in the class were art majors I figured I would just sheepishly grin and try not to make eye contact with anyone during critiques. When it came time for that first critique I was surprised to see that not everyone was a candidate to paint the Sistine Chapel.
A couple days later I was talking to a friend from class and I asked her if she was ever nervous she wouldn’t know how to do something the art professor could possibly ask us and she said something to the effect of “Well then they better teach me, that’s why I’m here.” It’s so obvious but it was like a huge smack in the face–like that palm straight to forehead type. Once she said it I really wanted to laugh because I couldn’t believe I had missed that. I think part of the reason I had missed it was because for awhile I felt like I had fooled [admissions] into letting me into college in the first place. I had fooled them into thinking I was “college material” but really I had no idea what I was doing or wanted to do and I’d be found out as a fraud any moment.
Or at least that's what my less self-assured side thought.
But hearing my friend say that totally changed things for me because she was exactly the “college material” type. Good grades, captain of such and such sports team with just the right amount of assertiveness. After that I took every art and design class I could and eventually completely switched majors.
Since then I’ve never looked back and just kept finding ways to do art and design any way I can. If you keep working in your field and take value in your work eventually other people will notice and find value in it as well. It was definitely hard starting out though and you have to get good at giving yourself motivational speeches but I promise if you keep going you’ll get there.
BB : Who or what inspires you and your work?
What: Giving voice to the female experience and perspective.
BB : Has art for you always been “fun” or was there a time your work was more “serious” before it evolved into your current style?
GS : I’m definitely more drawn to a serious tone and subject matter but I like incorporating “fun” elements because I think it makes the work more dynamic and less heavy handed. Also, you can’t really escape the “fun” when you’re working at Ban.do.
BB : We know your work, but we want to know you! Describe your personal style to us and who you currently can’t stop listening to.
GS : Lots of sweaters and short dresses under sweaters. Mostly oversized and loose fitting which isn’t hard because I’m 5’ nothing. And of course a couple 90s crop tops and platform shoes.
Sorry not sorry.
As for music, right now I’ve been listening to PJ Harvey. Her song Down By The Water is. so. good. But of course I also love that Justin Bieber song with the little dolphin noise.
BB : You’re a Latina taking over the art and design world. What does that mean to you?
GS : It really means a lot and I feel a responsibility to show other girls, but particularly girls of color, that they can do it too. Especially those, who like myself, may be the first in their family to graduate from a university. We hear it all the time but it’s true, it’s important for people to see others from a similar background succeed and be able to imagine themselves also succeeding. Not that I’ve had huge success and have achieved all my goals but I’m able to live a moderately comfortable life and work in my chosen profession. Experiencing the other side of it, I know that’s a big deal in itself and I am really grateful I’ve had this chance.