Today, we’d like to welcome illustrator, Yetzenia Levia to Jung Katz.
Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
So, often when I first meet someone I feel the need to explain my name. It’s usually because the person I meet will give me a puppy dog head tilt. If you are curious about how to pronounce it, it’s Yet-zen-nee-ah Lay-va. This name was given to me by my Guatemalan mother for Yetzenia was her favorite character in a soap opera.
I grew up in different areas of New Jersey where the common names for a girl were Sarah or Megan. The first days of class were especially frustrating because the teacher would not only butcher my name but would also want to know of its origin. No one asks for the origin of Sarah! These moments would make me annoyed, so now the first impression of me to the other students was that I was a strange-named, pissed off girl. And having a resting bitch face didn’t help either!
My redeeming quality was my ability to draw. Like any kid, I started out with finger painting and crayons. But lucky for me, I have an obsessive personality so by the time I was 5, I could make a wicked horse. By age ten and onward, I gained a lot of technical ability and could draw realistically. I could erase my first impression by drawing people’s portraits or anything in general. It was like my smoke bomb. Look at what I can do!
How would you describe your style?
Well, I have a lot of nervous energy and it’s soothing for me to make a repetitive mark. So you’ll see a lot of dots coming from me. I guess I would describe my style as being a bit whimsical and cute but with slight underlying dark tones. The way I render some characters in my art is naïve, even though I’ve had years of visual art education. My way of making art is not sophisticated at all.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
Some drawings happen in less than 10 minutes. Others might take 2-3 days, but not much more. It really depends on the drawing.
What art supplies do you use?
I work mostly with pencil, ink, gouache and watercolor. Sometimes I work digitally with a tablet. The quality of my materials ranges from $0.99 store watercolors to professional grade gouache. My feeling is that just because it’s expensive, doesn’t mean that it’s any better than the low end stuff. I have a ton of really expensive brushes and the one I use the most is a brush from a value pack.
What is art to you?
Art to me is when someone creates or does something and it doesn’t serve a purpose. It just exists. Usually, if it’s g ood art it will have made some impression on you, be it good or bad. I can appreciate most art, but my favorite would be art that has a narrative. I like a good story.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
I used to have an opinion that if you’re not making art or working to improve yourself as an artist, then you’re more interested in the idea of being an artist rather than putting in the work. It’s a harsh opinion. I think now I’m less critical and can appreciate that people work differently. However, if you’re not going to work, you should at least be in your physical or mental studio, leaving yourself open to an artistic idea. Be ready with a sketch book or a tablet.
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
♫ I wanna be, the very best, like no one ever was ♫ … Silliness aside, I hope I’m physically able to continue making the art I like for the rest of my life.
Any other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?
Yes! These are all wonderful artist I have the pleasure of knowing personally during different stages of their art career. There are more artists I’d like to list, but they don’t have websites. The list I do have had a lot of names, but they are defiantly worth your time. Check out the work of: