Today we’d like to introduce you to Ilien Guadalupe Tolteca.
Ilien, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Thank you for having me, My name is Ilien Guadalupe Tolteca but I go as Buffy or La buffy in my city. I’ve always liked creating things since I was a kid, my household was a very creative and innovative one. My parents, regardless of our economic situation or cultural barriers, did their best in making our childhood a happy one. The artwork I create is a reflection on my experiences growing up a Mexican American (Chicanx identifying) child and as well as my interests. I create with the purpose of creating a space of representation I lacked growing up and with the hopes of sharing my narrative. I aim to change that and advocate for better funding for it in my area. I’ve recently been introduced to the art scene in my city thanks to groups such as Xochitlin and Viva Oxnard’s efforts and encouragement. I didn’t expect as many individuals to resonate with my work and it makes me happy to see how others relate to it!
Great, 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?
To reach the place I am at now, it took me a while to figure out who I am. I think my artwork when I was younger reflected the feelings I had growing up, “Ni de Aqui, ni de Alla”, not from here or from there is a popular quote among a lot of Mexican American’s used when discussing our identities. I believe this quote reflects those feelings I had when I was younger. I am thankful to have had brown educators and educators with similar backgrounds that understood these internal conflicts as well as pushed me to continue creating. I believe that another thing that comes into mind is the stigma around art in POC communities and that there aren’t many Latinx artists that widely acknowledged besides Frida Khalo. Art isn’t really pushed for Latinx students as a career, there are a lot of talented kids out there who aren’t even aware of their potential due to low funding, it not being discussed, and the school to prison pipeline that is seen in our communities. Latinx parents want what’s best for you to pursue a career in which you will be economically stable and won’t suffer as they did. Imagine the look in my parent’s eyes when I told them I wanted to pursue art besides teaching? They were mortified!, thankfully I was able to show that the Starving artist stereotype isn’t real and that I am capable of pursuing my dream and making them proud. I hope to be able to provide for and reward all their hard work and sacrifices they’ve done for our family.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My work is a reflection of my experiences growing up, my identity, and my interests. I want other brown kids to be able to say “Hey that’s me!” or feel nostalgia in my work to see the beauty that is who they are and where they are from. I’m a mixed media artist, I tend to do a lot of experimenting in my work, from printmaking, traditional, watercolor, collage, digital, and hopefully ceramic work soon. La Tiendita de Buffy is based on a mom and pops vibe which I think is the best metaphor for my work, a little bit of everything. I am most known for my commissioned piece by Viva Oxnard, “Desde Casita”, made with the purpose of promoting their coloring book that was created to promote social distancing given for free to 500+ families in Oxnard, brown representation, and Honoring our farmworkers who are more than essential workers during these times. Our farmworkers deserve more and I will continue advocating for them. Please consider donating money or other necessities if you know or are near any. I hope to be apart of the change that is ongoing in my city with the push for brown empowerment and to help other brown kids through advocating for funding, uplifting them, and showcasing their work.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The love and support my community, family, and friends have shown me over the years have been such a crucial component in my success. There have been a lot of times I’ve doubted myself and my work, had it not been for all those individuals, I wouldn’t be where I am today. From my family helping me cut stickers, my teacher’s and professors’ connections, and guidance to my friends and community buying my work, coming to events or sharing my art. Every bit of support has helped me grow, both as an artist and a small business.
- Website: https://latienditadebuffy.bigcartel.com/
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @_labuffy_
- Twitter: @ilientolteca
Ilien Guadalupe Tolteca & Ashley Marine Tolteca