Q&A: Illustrator Gabriela Alemán aka Smug Morenita is a Self-Taught Artist

CREATOR SPOTLIGHTBy 2022-04-11T14:33:50-04:00October 4th, 2021|
Age: 26
Home base: San Francisco’s Mission District 
Tu país: Nicaraguan-Salvadoran 

What’s been your journey to becoming an illustrator? 

I’m a self-taught artist. It’s been a journey of learning [through] making a lot of mistakes and always being open to learning [more]. Luckily, I’ve been able to learn via YouTube tutorials and from the support of my community and fellow artists from the Mission District. When I started, I was incredibly lucky to learn from Ivan Lopez, an incredible local painter, ceramicist, illustrator and co-owner of Artillery AG, a local Latino-owned art gallery in the neighborhood I grew up in.

Muse? Muses?

Myself, my sisters, homegirls, neighborhood, and Chavalos Danzas por Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan folklore group I’m lucky to be a part of.

What makes an illustration pop? 

To make imagery pop in my work I like to use primary colors, texture, shadows and light. 

Favorite spot for inspiration: 

Mercados, my mom’s shop, and generally anywhere in my neighborhood, SF’s Mission District.

What music do you listen to while illustrating? 

Generally anything by Hope Tala, I currently have her album Girl Eats Sun on repeat! Others artists I also have on repeat are Frank Ocean, Leon Bridges, The Growlers, La Doña, and Cleo Sol. 

Go-to creative spot:

I find comfort illustrating on my couch near the window with my dog Tajín by my side.

What does Latine culture mean to you on your home turf?

I spend a lot of time at my moms shop and I feel it reflects a lot of traditional Latine culture aesthetically and culturally.

Go-to visual references: 

Latine iconography, femmes and Nicaraguan folklore.

What’s next for you? 

I hope what I’ve been manifesting and working towards comes to fruition. Also, supporting young women from my neighborhood who want to pursue illustration.