For our 2nd Artist Spotlight edition, we chatted with Visual Artist + Graphic Designer Kianna Ayala while exploring her passion + love for the arts, her connection to. NAILCON + how she stays inspired to give art life!
* Why do you do what you do?
I create art to express the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart. For the most part I use colors, images, and shapes that relax me. I often see (in my head) graceful versions of women emulating my favorite parts of myself: watering plants, sitting tall, relaxing. I want to show people the beauty in women of color and black women because we lack so much representation when it comes to aesthetically pleasing images of beauty. We are the ideal women, we just need to see more of ourselves in art and animation.
* How do you work?
I work with my heart. I don’t use my hands for it if it doesn’t flow out of me. The times that I do force some type of work, it just never brings as much joy out of me as when it flows. I’m still practicing my craft and learning as much as I can so that I can bring my visions to life. My best work is sporadic. I don’t surf but I think the best explanation could be that it’s like catching a wave on a surfboard and just riding it out. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Other times it could use some work. But all the things I find beautiful are reflected in my art.
* What’s your background?
I’m Afro Latina! I grew up getting cornrows, twisties, and really tight ponytails by my mom and aunties while listening to Reggae, 90s Hip Hop and Reggaetòn while the adults chatted way too loudly, giving me the inside scoop on all their lives trials and tribulations. Then I got older and only straightened my hair because I was so ashamed of my curly “bushy bad africano puerto rican hair” as many would put it. I stopped appreciating my culture for a few years and tried to silence every part of me that made me different, with very little tools to help me “blend in”. I watched my mom struggle in our low income household, so I never really asked for much. I was that one kid that never really had all the new toys, clothes, or gadgets, but that led me to have my abundance mentality and always being grateful for when I was able to buy my own luxuries.
* What’s integral to the work of an artist? Describe your style as a designer + artist.
What’s integral to my art is that it feels sincere. I have to in some shape or form relate to it or appreciate what I’m expressing for me to complete a work. I love when my work evokes feelings. Oftentimes, people say my art calms their minds. I have yet to complete my signature style. I’m still evolving as an artist and practicing the technicals so that I can become who I’m destined to be as an artist.
* What role does the artist have in society?
In society it is our duty to express what we see happening, what we feel in our hearts in the best way we can. Keeping up with the times and using our art to educate others is such a gift. It’s like modern day hieroglyphics. It says we were here and this is what we see. This is what we feel as individuals, as a community.
* What has been a seminal experience?
It’s always a seminal experience when I take inspiration from a movie or song or texture and I use it over and over and it creates this mini series of a period in my life where I was obsessed with what inspired me. It’s like starting and ending a chapter. The best parts always stay with me.
* How has your practice changed over time?
I didn’t have any direction or technique back then. Now I’ve picked up a trick or two, but my practice is always changing the more that I learn.
* Who inspires you?
Frida Kahlo inspires me to be a strong woman and to persist even when I’m in pain. Junji Ito, Ai Yazawa, and Anime in general always speak to me. the earth’s natural colors inspire me, plants inspire me. So does Basquiat and Adventure Time.
Working with NAILCON was fun, Jazmin was so sweet and excited about her project for Juneteenth and it got me really excited! I loved creating a little nail tech to go with the vibe of the event. It’s important for us women to come together and utilize each other’s gifts for a bigger cause. I won’t ever forget working on that project, it was really cute.
Kianna Ayala, https://www.instagram.com/soulkianna/