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Meet Natalia Valle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalia Valle.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in Los Angeles but raised in Guatemala City. My childhood was spent with fun outings all over the city with the most amazing grandparents in the world! I grew up with a very close-knit family where cultural traditions were inherently instilled in me.

I found my passion for drawing at the age of four where I would draw houses and landscapes. All I ever needed to be happy were crayons, paper, and pencils. Not knowing this at the time I always gravitated to the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the artisan goods I always saw in the “mercados” I used to go to so often with my grandmother.

At school, I got to learn about the early history of Guatemala and the Maya, although now I mostly remember the visual stelae more than anything else. At age ten, I moved to Los Angeles where I felt like a true foreigner. I didn’t speak English (fluently), I didn’t understand the new culture, and I certainly did not enjoy the food. It was all foreign to me, and I did not like it. I wanted to go back to my old world.

This was a very strange time for me. I didn’t fit in, but I wasn’t a complete outsider. I had enough social skills that allowed me to navigate through my new life here. My artist neighbor at the time needed some help with her classes and asked if I would be interested in helping her students. I was thrilled to get involved and make art with her students, so I said yes!

I always stayed close with my family in Guatemala, and I would visit every summer where I felt at home. Coming back was always hard for me. From then on I decided my art would represent me best showcasing my heritage, and my memories. My family is every bit part of that. I felt like I left my home at an age where I still had so much to learn about my roots.

In high school, I was part of the advanced program art class. I loved it! I started to paint and really develop my point of view. My concentration and main focus became and still is Guatemalan culture, and how I embrace it living in the U.S., I feel my emotions and ties to my old life are best represented when I paint them on canvas. It’s an ode to my family and my true identity.

Both the literal landscape and cultural landscape are a huge focus in my work. As a Guatemalan American woman, it’s important for me to voice my own point of view. That’s why most of my work is layered and textured.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Most artists ( in any field) have had obstacles and hardships to get over. My experience has been similar to many of my artist friends. I come from a traditional home where my family hoped I had chosen a career with a steady income and a nine to five job. Art was considered a past time activity, and it still is in many ways. I have always wanted to apply to art schools, and I hoped I would attend after high school.

I soon realized I was not going to be able to pay or get loans on my own to pay tuition that would leave me in debt after I graduated. Instead, I attended community college and took as many art classes as I could. My teachers were great and motivated me to stay on course. Still, I wasn’t fully convinced I could make a living off of painting. It came down to confidence. I wasn’t confident enough.

I believed in my art and my abilities, but I didn’t believe I could make it on my own. I felt I didn’t have any connections or resources to market myself. Painting is a part of my DNA. I can’t imagine not doing it so I figured I would at least do it on the side for my own pleasure. It wasn’t I met my artist friend Lauren that I began to feel good about making art.

There were a few disappointments I experienced close together, and the only thing that got me through was painting. I realized had to start one step at a time. Any rejection to any art competition was just part of the process. The important step is the next one.

Building your own community helps, I won’t deny that, but ultimately you have to pull yourself together to get to your goals.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I make one of a kind paintings. I specialize in mixed media pieces that focus on Guatemalan themes. Gold leaf is a common element in my work, and it’s become one of my signature materials.

I get inspired by music, patterns, textures and different cultures around the world. In the near future, I hope to work with local Guatemalan villages to provide education for the underprivileged youth and their families.

Last September, I was fortunate enough to take a week-long workshop in Guatemala where I got to learn about natural dyeing and weaving techniques from the local women in Atitlan. Their openness and warmth made me feel inspired to give back.

What were you like growing up?
As a child, I was very mature. I grew up as the only kid in the household, so I always felt older. I would always be with my grandmother, and I would observe and listen. I’ve never been shy, but I have always thought things out before acting or saying anything out loud. I tend to gravitate toward calming energies because I like balance and serenity.

I’m also a visual learner, so aesthetics sometimes determine how easily I will learn a new subject. Overall, however, I am an old soul. And I could easily have lived decades passed. Whether it’s musical taste, fashion, or landscape, I have an affinity for the past.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Tom Cisneros, LeAnna Azzolini, Lex (@lexpics) and Rollence Patugan

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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