[2 Minute Read]
Yocelyn Riojas is a Mexican-American illustrator that's owning her own narrative. Yocelyn uses design to illustrate the stories of the Latinx community and bring issues they face to the forefront. We chatted with Yocelyn about what inspires her to connect creative design and cultural pride.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I’m Yocelyn Riojas, a Latinx illustrator and designer living in San Marcos, TX.
Presently, I am working towards a Master of Fine Arts in Communication Design at Texas State University.
How does your Mexican American background inspire your illustrations?
I grew up in a small town named Eagle Pass in Texas, located right on the Mexican-American border. The majority of the population in Eagle Pass is mainly Latino or Native American. Everyone there is very proud of their culture, and being so close to the border, it often even feels like you’re in Mexico. Everything from the signage on taco stands, to the colorful buildings, to the super catholic homes with their decorations inspire me. I love connecting my art to the everyday things we see that resonate within our culture.
What has been your favorite illustration thus far and why?
My favorite piece is Brown is Powerful because it reminds women, and young girls, to celebrate their cultural identities. It always warms my heart when mothers reach out to thank me for creating this illustration. These mothers usually share common stories about their teenage daughters having trouble seeing the beauty of their skin, so they love being able to share this piece with them to encourage them to shift their perception. Being a “morenita” has never been an ideal beauty standard, and I believe it is important that we work to change this narrative. Brown is Powerful is a reminder to love the skin you were given. You are a strong ass woman, so embrace it!
How have your illustrations helped or inspired other women to speak out on political issues?
The majority of my work reflects on issues relating to feminism within the Latinx community, immigration, and DREAMers. I found it particularly important to focus on the creation of a voice for women of color, because I saw a void that needed to be filled, not only in the everyday world, but in the art world as well. As young women growing up, we are customarily taught to support the male figures in our lives, discouraged from voicing our opinions, and struggle to embrace the brown melanin in our skin. Fortunately, we are living in an era where Latinx women are taking back the negative connotations that come with being headstrong, and standing up for ourselves, alongside our communities. I find it very important to keep this momentum going and hope to encourage this through my artwork and activism. It is time to let our presence, thoughts, and ideas be known!
Is there anything else you'd like our audience to know?
If you have a passion for the arts or other creative endeavors don’t hold yourself back. You have to give it your all, and then some if you really want to make a difference in this world. We need artist to celebrate cultures, give a voice to communities of color, and inspire others to speak out against injustice. If one person can connect with the message you’re trying to spread with your craft, then you have succeeded.
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