We’ve briefly featured the Latina freelance illustrator and podcaster Fabiola Lara before, but this time we were able to chat with her about her life story and her recent accomplishments.
One of the recent milestones she’s crossed off her list is designing the official Instagram Midterm election stickers that we all saw on November 8. Yes, a Latina was in charge of the bilingual stickers many celebrities used to mark their vote!
Whatsmore is that Lara shines a light on other Latine artists through her podcast [Draws in Spanish], where she features striking Latine visual artists and asks them about their creative journeys as well as the intersection between their Latine identity and their work.
How does Fabiola Lara balance everything?
Here’s what Lara had to share with BELatina News about her journey, her career, and, of course, the advice she has for the next generation of Latinas who are interested in joining the freelance graphic artist field.
¡Hola! So, tell us about yourself.
My name is Fabiola Lara and I’m a Chilean-American illustrator and podcaster based in Philadelphia. I like to create work that brings joy through vibrant colors and fun textures. Prior to becoming an illustrator, I also worked as a social media and content strategist at various brands such as Gawker, Tumblr, and POPSUGAR.
How’d you get started as an illustrator?
I’ve always been creative since I was a kid, and I’ve carried that with me throughout my life. In college, I started experimenting with digital art and once I graduated, I started sharing fan art and GIFs to Tumblr which is where I was able to first get my art out there. From there, I started getting hired for editorial work and that’s how I realized this could be an entire career on its own.
Tell us about your podcast [‘Draws in Spanish].
My podcast [Draws in Spanish] showcases noteworthy Latinx visual artists, exploring their creative journeys and how they got to where they are today. On the show, I interview Latinx artists to uncover how their culture and Latinx identity informs their artwork and creative career path. I created the show because I felt that I wasn’t seeing artists from similar backgrounds as me being featured or highlighted in the media, and I wanted to fix that lack of representation. Hopefully, with each episode, we’re able to inspire the next generation of Latinx artists.
How do you balance your work? From designing, illustrating, and podcasting?
A lot of people hate computer work, but for me, it’s kind of the easy place to start so I generally kick off my days catching up on the computer. From there, I tackle any client work or creative work in the afternoons and then sometimes work on my podcast in the late evening after dinner. Thankfully, I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule so I just work on whatever I can depending on my mood. It’s definitely the hardest to be creative on demand, so I try to just set aside a few hours in the afternoon to dedicate to that while leaving computer work (video editing, content planning, emails, etc.) for the mornings and evenings when I feel low energy.
We saw your designs for Instagram’s Midterm Election Stickers. Tell us how this came to be.
For the Instagram Midterm election stickers, they contacted me in March and we started working on them collaboratively. They provided me with a brief of what they wanted and I created within that scope. It was so fun to work both digitally and traditionally on these stickers knowing they would be used for such a big cultural moment. It was special to be able to create them in both English and Spanish.
You’re a freelancer now – after working for Gawker Media, Tumblr, POPSUGAR – what have you learned from both working as a team and for yourself?
I’ve learned that being a freelancer means you have to wear many hats! When I worked within a team, everyone was responsible for their own work but as a freelancer, all of that (social, content, editing, email, etc.) falls on you. Since I worked as a Social Media Strategist previously, I am also able to separate my social media from my personal identity and although I know it’s important to share your work on social media, I don’t see my social posts’ performance as a direct reflection of my worth.
Do you have any advice for young Latinas who also want to be freelance illustrators?
Start before you’re ready, but also know your worth! Aside from focusing on your art practice itself, a big part of it is putting your work out there and taking on jobs even if they feel scary at the time. You have to cultivate your work consistently but also share your work often if you want to make it a business.
What else would you like to share with BELatina News?
Every episode of Season 2 of [Draws in Spanish] is now available to stream on YouTube! This is great because you can watch the guest chat with me and get a better sense of the conversation. If you want an extra 15 to 30 minutes of each episode, consider joining the [Draws in Spanish] Patreon!