Inés Estrada is an artist from Mexico City. Her works display a strong array of color and at the same time possesses a gentleness. She has an indie spirit and with her boyfriend Roi, they are Cafe Con Leche. They make zines and keep their creative energies flowing. She’s part of Blithe Spirits exhibition at Giant Robot 2 along with Sean Chao (who’s words will make it here soon). We’re proud to publish a few words with her and hope you get to know her, a bit about Mexico City, and her works a little better. Hopefully one day soon, we’ll get to meet her. Cafe Con Leche and Inés Estrada. Preview Images from Blithe Spirits.
GR: Not a lot of people in the US know about artists from Mexico, can you talk about your area and what your art community is like?
IE: I live in Mexico City, which is the biggest city in the world. It is pretty crazy and there’s always something happening. Though there are people doing things here, it mostly seems like we’re all isolated. The art scene in Mexico is really spread out, so I have a couple of artist friends, but most of them live in other states. That’s what I would consider my art community… and all my friends from other countries.
I think most of the popular Mexican artists in Mexico do graffiti or come from a street art background. That’s what’s really hip here right now, and there’s a bunch of people doing really great stuff in the medium. I’m more of an indoor, small notebook cartoonist kind of person, so I don’t interact with them as much as I’d like.
GR: Is there an audience for comics and zines in Mexico?
IE: Comics in Mexico are mostly seen as “garbage literature”, like something only kids or construction workers should read. So, that said, there isn’t a really big audience for alternative comics, and I think it’s mostly because people don’t know they even exist. Manga has become quite popular in the last decade, but there’s still a lot left for other kind of comics to be introduced.
GR: Your work often has people in them, can you talk about what they are doing?
IE: I think most of the people I draw are usually in a state of contemplation. I don’t usually know beforehand what do I want to paint or if I want to say something with it, so this reply is something I came up with right now. You could see them doing something different and it could be possible too.
GR: It seems like there’s some fantasy, but can you explain a bit about the people who sit and often have things growing from them?
IE: Most of the characters I draw, I picture them in my head as little gods. This little gods all exist by themselves in their own universe and at the same time are all related and live intertwined. The things growing could be sprouting out of their own will or just symbols of their good aura manifesting. Again I think it’s up to the viewer to decide…
GR: Can you talk about Cafe Con Leche?
IE: Café con Leche is mostly just me and my boyfriend Roi having fun. We usually start our ideas by joking about things we’d like to do and sometimes those jokes eventually come down to things that we really end up doing. We also have an online store, which is the more business side of our project.
GR: It looks like you’re into crafts as part of your art, can you talk about that as well?
IE: I like the idea of exploring different mediums, so crafts are a part of that. I also like that crafts are a mix in between an art piece and a mass produced object, so you can have a big production and at the same time it will still be a hand made item.
GR: Are any of your influences from Mexico? if so, what does that bring to your work?
IE: I have many influences and definitely the place I’ve lived all my life is one of them. I love Mexican crafts and I think you can find that in my work, in how it’s so busy and colorful. Pre-hispanic cultures are also a really good source of inspiration. Aztecs have a really strong connection with blood, guts, bones, and teeth, and used them a lot as elements for their myths. I’ve always been fascinated by that idea of how they related really violent concepts with others that may seem clashing in our Western culture like love, birth or beauty. This is mixture of the grotesque and violent with the beautiful is also something I like to incorporate in my work.
I feel like a lot of Mexican artists want to give a really obvious Mexican style to their work, using Pre-Hispanic characters, indigenous people, or elements like corn. My work doesn’t have that, and I think that’s why it’s not seen as very distinctively Mexican, but I’m more interested in looking into different ways of showing others what Mexico is like than by falling in corny cliches.