Veronica Cabrera graduated from Miami International University of Art and Design with a BFA in Visual Arts. Her work is based on illustrations and fine art that have been inspired by childhood fantasies and natural elements. She explores a whimsical, feminine world with watercolors, as well as twisted organic landscapes with pen and ink.
In this interview with MG editor Catalina Piedrahita, Veronica talks about self-portraiture, her creative process and the female presence in myth and folklore.
CP: Let’s talk about self-portraiture. A lot of your work includes an image of yourself, and most of the time it is juxtaposed with drips or splashes of bold color giving tension to the whole image. Is there a particular reason why you don’t use other people besides you in your pieces? Is this tension only a compositional element or does it have further meaning within your work?
VC: Well, these two particular series, Touch… Hold and Dreaming In Color were meant to be self portraits. I wanted to explore this style and make it very personal so I used myself as a model. As my work progressed the tension ceased a little and instead it became part of my environment. More like scenes or objects I can interact with that represent some sort of feeling or dream-like state. In my Dreaming in Color series this can be seen the most.
CP: When it comes to planning your creative process, do you always have a clear vision of how one particular piece is going to look like before you start working on it or is there a factor of improvisation in the creation of your work?
VC: I have some sort of vision… I wouldn’t call it clear though. There is definitely a factor of improvisation. When using a model, either myself or someone else, I take various photos and then choose whichever one I imagine on my paper/canvas. I may even change it while in the process of drawing. Once I add the watercolor from there on the process is a total mess of inspiration of what colors compliment or of what just looks right and how it interacts with the model. I can definitely call it a balance of spontaneity and concrete.
CP: You have mentioned that mythology and folklore and their use of the female image are things that inspire your work. Can you elaborate more about the presence of these elements in your work and how they manifest through your imagery?
VC: The female presence in mythology and stories is a very strong one. Mostly used as a representation of innocence, sex, lust, temptation, weakness, evil, beauty, nature… I can go on. These symbols are inspirational to my work because I can use them to convey my own feelings. Using self portraits takes it to a whole different level of intimacy; creating my own depictions and representations using the female presence.
CP: How has been your transition from art student to professional artist? What setbacks did you face after graduating from art school and how did you overcome them? What artistic advantages have you had since graduation?
VC: The transition has been an interesting one. I felt as if I came out of an insecure learning bubble into something even more insecure… but with its advantages. A major setback is the career field and finding something you can survive on that is artistically oriented. In my case I had to stick to the job field I have experience with, unfortunately not artistic, but I do have situations where I can do graphic work for certain events or people. It’s been harder in the networking aspect since there is none of that guidance you get in school, but I’ve been able to overcome that with social media and who I surround myself with and what they lend as inspiration, fellow artists in my current situation and what they do to feed that creative hunger.
CP: Are you working on any new projects at the moment? If so, can you share some ideas with us?
VC: Yes, I’m working on two at the moment. The first one is a children’s book that I’m currently illustrating and writing. I am almost in completion but I have to figure out the ending…. Yes, I got writer’s block on a children’s book! It is about a pug puppy and her struggle to befriend an older dog that has no time for her. I promise it’s cute and adventurous. On a deeper level it is also a very personal mission of mine to complete.
My second project is along the lines of my watercolor and pencil series. In this project I’ve ventured out on different people where the familiar tension of the watercolor in my previous work is representative of that person. Color use, objects or just the interaction of the environment all contain some sort of personal relationship to that person. This is a series I have been taking my time with but I feel that it is necessary since I’m trying to portray the essence of each individual.