Today we’d like to introduce you to Cheyanne Zavala.
Hi Cheyanne, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I am a nostalgic Chicana illustrator and designer who enjoys creating work that reflects the warmth and vibrance of my culture while also redefining the traditional aesthetic of “Chicano art.” The illustrations I create are often applied in different ways that vary from patterns for textile to paper goods and home decor.
Like many artists, I was innately creative growing up; always doodling, always crafting my own little do it yourself projects. Though, I truly believe it is the unending support from my family and friends that has helped guide me to where I am today. I was fortunate enough to always have my creativity nurtured and celebrated by the people around me, which is why it stuck with me for so long. While I had always thought of it as purely a hobby, it wasn’t until I began attending a local community college that I decided to pursue a career in art. I learned so many valuable lessons and met many friends I still hold dear to me today while I attended Mt. San Antonio Community College. I believe it was a necessary step in helping me reach my ultimate goal: art school.
About a year ago, I graduated from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. The years I spent at ArtCenter were perhaps the most crucial in shaping me to be the artist I am today. It was there where I took the biggest strides and found my voice amongst many other budding artists. ArtCenter also provided me with a wider scope of the variety of paths you can take as an artist and designer. I found a deep love for Surface Design through my late mentor, Christine Nasser, who taught me many of the fundamentals that shaped my work. As I went on in school, I began to search for a sense of individuality that set my work apart from everyone else. So many of my peers created stunning works through the lens of their individual experiences and cultures, which truly inspired me to embrace and be passionate about my own through my work. It was then that I began to utilize familiar aspects of my culture in a way that was modern in design yet still nostalgic. For me, it became an exercise in reclaiming my identity as a Chicana woman in a way that was relevant to my biggest passion. Through this exploration, I grew a deeper love for my culture, which deserves to always be celebrated and uplifted, especially during times like these.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road was most definitely not smooth, but I truly believe that the experiences we have, good or bad, shape us into the people we are. My siblings and I were raised by a single mother, an extraordinary woman, who has always been tough as nails no matter how unfair life was or how many obstacles it through at her. Through her, I learned many valuable lessons in resilience that have come in handy my entire life. My father struggled with many things that kept him from being an active and consistent part of my life. I lost him four years ago, and it was without a doubt the most difficult experience I’ve ever faced. Losing a parent shapes you in ways not many people, especially people my age, can understand, which can be incredibly alienating at times. However, it also taught me many invaluable lessons about forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion.
Through my journey, there were also plenty of times my path seemed unclear and my uncertainties got the best of me, I’ve managed to find my way through with the amazing support system I was fortunate enough to be blessed with. My family and friends have always kept me motivated and grounded. With their support and the lessons I’ve learned along the way, I know I can manage any obstacle thrown my way.
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?
I am an illustrator and designer that specializes in creating illustrations geared towards Surface Design. I enjoy creating illustrations and patterns that can be applied to everything from textiles and home decor to paper goods such as party supplies and stationery. My work can be described as warm and nostalgic with a handmade touch. I enjoy experimenting with playful shapes and interesting textures that give an authentic feeling to my work. I am most proud of creating designs that are reflective of my culture. While I take great inspiration from traditional Chicano art, I enjoy presenting it in a new way that appeals to a modern audience, which is exactly what makes it unique and sets it apart from others.
Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I actually have a pretty deep obsession with music. I listen to a huge variety, and it’s something I’ve always been secretly passionate about. Embarrassingly enough, I was in choir all through middle school and high school. If I was more talented and I didn’t have art, I think it’s something I would have considered pursuing.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: cheyzavala.com
- Instagram: @cheyzavala
Photography by Nadine Aros