—interview by Bianca Betancourt @bybiancabee
Comics aren't just for the boys anymore.
It's evident at every zine fest and comic festival that more and more women are buying, writing and producing illustrated art and stories and the demand for diverse works is only growing.
Inés Estrada is one of those women. The former comics editor for Vice Mexico has earned a huge following for her work; fantasy influenced illustrations with humble, honest and often hilarious storylines.
We spoke with Estrada about how she got her start, her kick-ass clothing line and how to truly make it as an illustrator.
How did you decide that illustration was what you wanted to turn into your career? Have you always wanted to be an illustrator?
IE: I've always wanted to draw for a living. When I was a kid I wanted to make animations. Then I realized how much work that takes and I settled for comics instead!
Your drawings and stories always showcase the realistic side of girl/womanhood. How important is it to you to represent this experience in your work?
IE: It's not really something I do consciously. I guess it's just unavoidable for me to talk about that because that has been my experience in this world. It's cool when someone else tells me they can relate to it, but I also like it when people get freaked out or think it's disgusting. Anything but indifference is the reaction I'm looking for with my work.
Aside from themes of womanhood, you illustrate a lot of animals in your work. Why do you love including them/humanizing them?
IE: I really admire animals because they seem to have figured out their place in this world much better than we have. Humans like to think they're superior, but that's just because we're a kind of very confused animal. I also just think they're super fun to draw.
The internet is a pretty inclusive place, but have you ever experienced any prejudice or sexism being a female artist in the comic world?
IE: Not in any specific way that comes to mind, but I don't think it would be possible to be a woman and not experience sexism.
You recently moved from Mexico City to San Antonio, Texas. How has Southwest living treated you so far? What are the differences in the two art scenes?
IE: It was an extreme cultural shock to me. Both art scenes are quite small, so it wasn't as much related to that as to the food and the general lifestyle. Mexico City is kind of like New York, you can walk around and there's lots of stuff going on all the time. Imagine moving from there to a small town... in another country! It's been intense, but I'm happy to be living with my partner and enjoying the chill, slow-paced life.
Your clothing line is really popular—what other ways do you want to expand the use of your art?
IE: Thanks! I've always wanted to make a videogame but I don't really know when I am going to focus on learning how to do that. For the moment, comics and clothing is where I've found a good balance of money making and creative fulfillment. I'm currently working on the second issue of my new series Alienation and also on designing socks, another sweatshirt and a beanie for my winter line!
So many young illustrators are trying to figure out how to "make it". What was the moment you realized you've "made it" as an artist and what did it take to get you there?
IE: For me "making it" just means that I can do, for the most part, whatever I want, and still be able to pay my rent on time.
I've been making illustrations and comics "professionally" since 2006, but my climax moment of "I made it" was at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest in 2012, when I realized I had earned about 2 grand from just selling comics. Which, in Mexico, is worth like four times what it is here. I moved out of my mom's and started renting a small one room apartment by myself just two weeks after that.