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Meet Blanca Estrella Ibarra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Blanca Estrella Ibarra.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Blanca Estrella. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in Los Angeles but being that LA is a large county my family was always moving around and that made it hard for me to be myself amongst others therefore for a long time I was a shy girl who always kept to her self but held worlds of color in her imagination. Being that I come from a low-income family and I was the oldest of 4 children, my parents never really had the money or time to buy us many toys or play games. So, I did the next best thing, I drew out any friends or toys I wanted, cut them out, and played with my own creations. As I got older, my mother saw something in me, and though she could not support me by buying me the latest art supplies or paying for art classes, she supported me by giving me space to expresses myself without interruptions or judgments. Thanks to this, I became a self-taught artist.

I started out by sketching anything that pleased my eyes, then I started making portraits after I picked up colored pencils, and near my last year in high school, I tried out my luck with painting. As it turns out, simply creating art came naturally to me and since then, whenever I got some free time, I enjoyed diving into all the worlds of color my hands and imagination could create.

For the most part, whenever it was someone’s birthday or special celebration, I always made art, but I had never really considered putting my art out for sale until my last year of college a classmate discovered my hidden talent and offered me the opportunity to vend/showcase my work at an evening event dedicated for students of color to come together and voice themselves. Although I was nervous to present my work to the public, part of me could not help but be excited to take on the next chapter of my life that this opportunity presented to me. Fortunately, I got many compliments and did end up selling some of my work which surprisingly ended up in the hands of a few of my professors. I was grateful and motivated to continue so I decided to make a name for myself and work towards using my gift not just to express myself but to make an extra buck on the side.

Once I graduated, I didn’t think I’d be doing much with my art but life works in mysterious ways and nothing is without reason. Even though I have a degree in English my journey has led me to stay close to my art. Now I am proudly a writer, an art teacher, a tutor, an artist, and an art vendor. I believe that I am very fortunate to be working with something that inspires so much passion in me. I give back by teaching the youth both artistically and academically, and in return, I stay open to learning every day. Nowadays, I spend most of my time either teaching or finding inspiration in nature. I’ve gravitated more and more towards nature and discovered that in order to further develop myself as an artist and more compassionate human being I’ve had to do the inner work that most refuse to do. I’ve worked with multiple plant medicines and thanks to this, I only keep discovering my skills as an artist and an artist of healing.

Aside from working on my art, I also very much enjoy learning all that I can learn about my roots and the ways in which my ancestors worked with plants to connect me more to nature and establish a healthy lifestyle full of meaning and love. I work with plants to make essential oil perfumes, smudge sticks, herbal infused body oils, salves, and smokable herbal blends.

I am grateful for all in my life. I am thankful for the many lessons I’ve learned through all of my experiences and though I am still growing as a person, I am extremely grateful to be able to share my gifts and my knowledge with the world. I am forever a student of life and through my story, I wish to encourage others to always keep their heads held high and seek a better tomorrow because every new day is a new chance to start fresh and make better choices for ourselves and the world.

Has it been a smooth road?
I believe that through my road has not been smooth, honestly, I would not change a thing about it because if it weren’t for any of my falls, I would not be where I am today. I come from a low-income immigrant family who always struggled to make ends meet. As a Mexican American family, my family was not indifferent to having issues due to class, racism, and gender expectations. I grew up very insecure and always questioning why I wasn’t born white, instead I was born brown and always made to feel less for having been born brown. For a 5-year-old to think these things, I didn’t realize how aware I was of my surroundings, yet I dealt with it and faced life the best was I could which was through the expression of art. As I became an adolescent, I came to really appreciate my background and especially love the person I was born to be no matter what shade my shade of skin was I loved every inch of my cinnamon self.

In high school, I was always the hopeless romantic chick but despite all of my love failures, my own ability to love and desire to express myself allowed me to realize that happiness was not something given to me by another individual but something I had to create for myself. While many of my friends stayed partying and drinking, I was a full-time community college student and on the weekends, I worked for a public relations company at the mall.

The life I was living felt empty and meaningless and just when I had convinced myself that college was taking me nowhere, the world came crashing down. I ended up pregnant at 21 and as if things could not get worst my boyfriend disappeared to live a life of partying. I was devastated. Heartbroken and scared but no matter what I knew, my life was about to change and now I had a responsibility not just for myself but for my unborn child. I decided to stay in school because I figured that was the best way I could give my child a better life. Once my daughter was born things didn’t get easier but no matter what I kept my head held high and whenever I felt depleted I simply looked into my baby’s eyes and found the strength to keep moving forward.

I did five years in community college and finally, I transferred to Cal State Long Beach where I graduated with a BA in Literature and Creative Writing. I accomplished my goal by always doing the best I could, sacrificing sleep, and balancing a new life as a mother and a full-time student. Thankfully, I had two supportive parents who always had my back and believed in me even when I could no longer see the light.

After I graduated, I decided to apply to grad school but had once again my heartbroken when I was rejected. I felt like a failure but again life picked me up and placed me where I never t thought I’d be. I went from being an English tutor to an art teacher and a creative instructor. Over and over again my belief that everything happens for a reason was supported by the way things always turned out for me. Blessings were and are still always presented to us disguised as trials and tribulations. I’ve learned that no matter how hard things get, it is the universe trying to teach us a lesson to help us grow. The trick is to trust that things will work out and have a positive outlook on every situation no matter how sticky it may seem.

Please tell us more about your art.
My business name is Arte Estrella and through this, I am an artist, an art vendor, an herbalist, and I offer services as a creative writing instructor. I specialize in bringing healing to the world through the visual arts as well as giving creative writing workshops to the elderly and youth and also crafting natural medicine to further help our bodies to become closer to our roots and mother nature.

For the most part, I am known for my visual art. I love painting things in nature like animals, plants, and elements. I make custom work for anyone interested in bringing to life a specific dream, and I also just usually create what I feel when I feel it. I work on various surfaces and use different mediums to bring my own dreams to life. Also, because I am a writer I am also known to hold workshops that discuss the mental health stigma that many Latino communities face. I work with many age groups to express and address this topic and then we work together to transform it into a piece of art through creative writing.

As for my skills in using nature as my guide, I work with many medicinal plants to create safe and nontoxic perfumes that serve as aromatherapy to aid in stress relief, protection, love, boosting energy, and more. I make herbal infused body oils, especially love to make smokable herbal blends that can help against insomnia, pain, fatigue, and more. I pour my heart into everything I do and therefore, I believe that what sets me apart from others is the fact that I use my skills to help heal the world one art piece or product at a time. I am an artist who has used all of her life experiences to guide me into becoming a healer and a student of life.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I like best about my city is that it is diverse and full of new adventures. Every day in LA there is always a new opportunity to grow as an artist and get my name out there in the world. This is a beautiful thing because the possibilities are endless. No matter how many doors close in my face there are always other doors waiting with arms wide open to take me and my work in. Like me, LA is full of many other artists and this I appreciate a lot because it gives me the chance to teach young artists and also learn from many other great creators. In other words, the fact that LA is huge allows for many collaborative opportunities to rise over and over.

The downfall of this city is the fact that it is a city. Although I was born and raised in the city, I enjoy the country so much more. I wish there were more wild forests, or simply more natural parks to escape from the city lights and enjoy the full starlit skies at night. Sadly this is not the case with so much pollution and light pollution, nevertheless, I am grateful for living here because it allows me to appreciate nature so much more and really connect with it whenever I go hiking, exploring the coves in San Pedro or simply sitting outside my house listening to the birds’ chirp.

Pricing:

  • Smudge stick bundles (mini) $3 (med) $7 (lrg) $10
  • Art varies depending on sizes, prices rage between $5-$200
  • Essential oil perfumes $10
  • Herbal infused body oils $15
  • Salves $7
  • Smokable herbal blends (prerolled) $5 or (gram) $10

Contact Info:

  • Instagram: @arte_estrella1115

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