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Daily Inspiration: Meet Kris Quinones

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kris Quinones.

Hi Kris, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Hi!! I’m a trans (they|he) nuyorican born in the Bronx but grew up in El Barrio NYC with my mom, her boyfriend and my four brothers. We were very poor, on welfare and couldn’t afford a lot of stuff outside of essentials. My mom was always innovative. She was a Puerto Rican native and always made the best of her surroundings. She loved to alter clothes and design outfits; she loved decorating the apartment, always had a room with a new, unique setup. Whatever she created, be it clothes or food, just bursted with creativity and love. She’s absolutely the culprit for planting that artistic seed, haha.

So just like everyone else, I grew up watching cartoons! I wrote a ton of fiction about vampires, monsters and all kinds of sci-fi action. Middle school is where I really started to get “serious” with my art, designing original characters, drawing autobio comics with my buds, not to mention the embarrassing amount of anime fanart. Despite my awful grades, I got accepted into a creative arts high school in Chelsea, NYC but got sidetracked and took up drumming instead of majoring in illustration. This didn’t stop me from studying with what little resources I had at the time, though. Then I realized that creating comics fulfilled me more than I could’ve ever imagined and I decided to pursue that path.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road at all, haha. I went through a lot of childhood abuse that I’m still healing from today. Growing up in troubling environments where no matter what you do, you’re sucked back into this cycle of negativity and hardship is rough as hell and really messes you up. As a Latinx person, I know how deeply-rooted and systemic these issues can be.

Ultimately, I dropped out of high school at 17. With the help of my titi, Grace (beautiful, creative second mom to me), I moved across the country with my then-husband, Dylan, and his family. With the help of his wonderful mom, Sharon, I was able to complete my high school diploma. I began researching colleges and found THE ONE in San Francisco but… I couldn’t afford it. I was just some punk from East Harlem with no money or work experience, so I worked in kitchens with a plan to save for college. That ended up not happening so for the next decade, cooking became my primary career. As physically and mentally exhausting as it is having a full-time job, I didn’t give up on drawing whenever I could. I began teaching myself to animate in flash. I created comics and stories with my friends, studied animation and just absorbed as many free resources as I possibly could. I took any and every freelance opportunity in animation and worked for nothing on indie films. Between that and wrestling with mental health stuff, it’s been a long rocky road.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Right now, I’m just trying to learn and take in as much info as I possibly can. I’ve been studying via the Open Animation and Rise Up Animation programs, which are geared towards uplifting BIPOC in animation education. It has been an AMAZING, structured way of learning. I don’t feel as lost. It’s a big change from days when I felt like a real education in the arts was inaccessible to me. I still consider myself climbing up that hill of progress, but I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do so far – from comics and illustration to published art, and then to animation cleanup on animation that made it to television, it’s been such an exciting journey so far. I’m great at making things look clean and pretty, and I’m looking forward to expanding that skillset into more story-focused animation work.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I’m very lucky to have found people in my life who love me unconditionally and want to see me grow into the best version of myself. I’m happy to have a support network of friends and family that help me tackle a lot of the good and bad in my life. If it weren’t for my girlfriend’s never-ending love and support, I don’t know if I’d be here today having this interview! I’ve had my share of bad luck, for sure, but I’m always looking at the little gifts in everyday life. I’m excited to find the next one.

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Image Credits

Art by Kris Quinones

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