IdentificarX panel discussion

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Discovering your one true voice: IdentificarX Alumni Panel

As part of ArtCenter's IdentificarX exhibition, four creatives came to campus for the Alumni Panel Discussion, Saturday, June 29, to share their journeys into their respective fields, the impact of an ArtCenter education, and the challenges of working in the arts.

Here are a few highlights from the panelists, in their own words, during the insightful discussion about their careers, creative processes and the power and trepidation that can come with an ArtCenter education.

I felt like superhero when I got out of ArtCenter. That education empowered me to have more of my own voice.

Stella Hernandez
Associate Chair, Spatial Experience Design

Graphic Designer Erron Estrada (BFA 22 Graphic Design)

"From a young age I was doing graffiti art — that's how it started. But my work really blossomed after I came to ArtCenter and really developed through that process. I've been influenced by Victorian-style lettering and calligraphy of all sorts, including Arabic and Japanese calligraphy. And so I create my own style of lettering. I do everything by hand, always drawn out with pencil on paper, and then taking it into the digital realm through Illustrator. That's something I learned through ArtCenter. 

For instance, the Albuquerque Film & Music Experience wanted a film poster to go with their show. I was able to get connections from ArtCenter actually, which helped me get this project. I just wanted to be unapologetically me and do my thing with lettering. This is what I wanted to put out there. And they really enjoyed the piece, too."

Associate Chair of Spatial Experience Design Stella Hernandez (BS 11 Environmental Design) 

"Rather than talking about just one piece, I would like to talk about my own process during my career and the direction that I'm moving into right now. I started my career before ArtCenter, working in South America and in Colombia at different furniture companies. It wasn't so much about showing my own initiatives — it was more about following the direction of other people. 

After I came to ArtCenter and got my degree in Environmental Design, I felt different. That education empowered me to have more of my own voice — I felt like superhero when I got out of ArtCenter. 

The Tango Table is the start of something different. I was working with an interior designer, and we wanted to make tables that would go together in an expected way. This piece is part of my love of dancing, so it came from that passion. This is work I did collaborating with other designers and clients, but now I'm taking a new direction. Now, I feel that I can express myself in a different way, with things that are more authentic to myself. That's the type of work that I'm doing now."

Nery Gabriel Lemus, Visual Artist and Educator Nery Gabriel Lemus (BFA 07 Fine Art)

"This body of work, The Poetics of Place, which is a show that I just had this past February and March, they're actually watercolors, when you get close to them, you realize they're not framed. I developed this process where they look very photorealistic. I'm really attracted to watercolor because if you think about acrylic painting tends to have more of a plastic feeling, oil painting is more like this buttery feeling. 

Watercolor seeps into the paper like a stain, which is quite beautiful. I've really enjoyed that process and it's, for me, it's stemmed through these sort of New World explorations. When colonizers come and bring their artists to document the New World, they'll use these sort of ways of documenting the world. And it's something I wanted to sort of take back in a sense." 

Frutas Co-Founder, Bibs Moreno (BFA 18 Photography), who was featured in the LA Times

"I didn't want to come out looking like an 'ArtCenter student photographer.' Nothing against that, but there was a very specific look. It was something I was very afraid of because you want to have your own voice; you don't want to feel like you're just a carbon copy. That was just my struggle coming here: having a very strong eye, strong voice. But it being very feral I guess, and not tamed and fine tuned. 

At ArtCenter, I had to learn how to be more disciplined, how to work quickly, how to be less messy — because I was very messy before in my approach. But now I feel leaving ArtCenter, I'm getting to this point where I'm able to bring both together. And so I have my voice that I didn't lose — and I'm happy I didn't lose it."

About IdentificarX

ArtCenter College of Design presents an exhibition celebrating ArtCenter’s Latina/e/o/x alumni community. The exhibition explores the complex and distinct contributions our alumni have made to the field of art and design, and their significant cultural impact.

On view through August 3, 2024, across ArtCenter’s four South Campus galleries: The Peter & Merle Mullin Gallery, Second Level Gallery, Hutto-Paterson Hall and HMCT Gallery.