When we connected with Tumblr artist Stefania Tejada about creating a mural in support of women’s empowerment, we knew she was a perfect match for us. Her vision for the mural was exactly what we were looking for, and her overall positive vibe and feminist mindset really resonated with us (and the “Women Rise Together” message we wanted to get across).
Once she finished her UD masterpiece in NYC, we picked her brain to find out more about her creative process and influences.
Q - Tell us about yourself. How did you get into painting?
A - I enjoy having different projects that in some way complement each other. I'm an illustrator, fashion designer and content producer. I like to make, build and create. It's what brings purpose to my life. I use everything that’s around me as contribution to the pieces I create. I try to see everything and everyone around me and find their uniqueness—those little pieces that make them who they are; then, in some way present them in my work.
I was driven by illustration after taking a college class called “expression,” and I contacted a friend who was a professional illustrator to teach me the basic concepts. It just took on a life of its own after that. I do my best to improve and to continue to evolve as a creator with every opportunity.
Q - Tell us a bit about your process. How did this mural come to be, from start to finish?
A - My process is very spontaneous. I sit down and view images of architecture, design, portraits, fashion and art. I start to get an original visual in my head, and I have all these notebooks where I write phrases, quotes, thoughts and beliefs to infuse these feelings with the image I’ve created in my mind. I always begin with the person—the expression of the face and the eyes—and then I move to the rest of the face and styling; then, I focus on the background and general elements.
I had to create a few concepts for this mural, so I did some research on the riot grrrl movement, the evolution of feminism and the Women’s March that had just happened. I also watched a documentary called She's Beautiful When She's Angry. We ultimately went with the Women’s March concept since it was very fresh and relevant to the current climate in the U.S.
From there, I created different types of women with their own unique style to make it very diverse and inclusive. I wanted to have some variety in the expressions: Some of the women look more understanding and welcoming, others look more powerful and badass, while some are just happy to be there.
Q - How would you describe your artistic style?
A - My artistic style is driven by photography and fashion. I’ve always felt a strong connection between the expression of a woman and a camera, and I want to show that truthful moment of realness when a lens beautifully captures the authenticity of a subject in a portrait that lives on in time. I also find the concept of feminism very interesting in my work. Usually people associate the word "feminine" with something pink, girly and delicate, but it can be strong, badass and powerful—just like the women portrayed in the mural.
Q - The strong message on the mural is “Women Rise Together.” What women have inspired or influenced you and/or your work?
A - I would say all of the badass women in my life, starting with one of the strongest people I know—my mother. After her, there's one of the founders of C37 in México, Carolina Cantú, and photographer Sofia Ayarzagoitia. Of course, there’s also Michelle Obama, Patti Smith, Sylvia Sleigh, Maria Herreros, Nan Goldin, Aliza Nisenbaum, Hillary Clinton, Marie Tomanova, Adwoa Aboah, Petra Collins, among so many others.
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