For many artists, the digital sphere has been a necessary tool in reaching larger audiences and sidestepping possible gatekeeping from institutions. Instagram, with its emphasis on all things visual, has been particularly helpful.
Since the 2018 rollout of a feature that allows users to share other peoples’ posts in their Instagram stories, profiles on the social media platform have become reminiscent of the blogs on LiveJournal or Tumblr, with personal posts placed between music suggestions and images meant to boost an imagined aesthetic. Queued after videos from, say, a hike or a meal, you may catch the work of an unknown artist your old friend or little cousin admires — and find that, after visiting the artist’s profile, you admire them, too.
ALL ARTS has always been a platform meant to bolster the work of artists through a supportive community that transcends genre, and the ALL ARTS Instagram is no different. Every week, we feature posts from creators in the digital space on our Instagram stories. And now, with the aim to foster our arts community, we’re talking with a new artist every week in our new series: Artists of Instagram.
Meet Reyna Noriega (@reynanoriega_), a 27-year-old visual artist based in Miami, Florida. Growing up, Noriega admired her father who is also an artist, but she had convinced herself that she “couldn’t draw” in primary and secondary school. Eventually, she allowed herself to follow where she found joy, and with art, “the joy [she] felt was unmatched.” She minored in the subject at Florida International University, and has since created a slew of projects! You may recognize Noriega’s works through her photography, her designs for other brands and companies, or her own shop.
We spoke to Noriega about her pieces, her inspirations and what art means to her.
What does art mean to you? How does it fit in your story?
It’s the joy for me. It’s the power to cultivate happiness. For such a long time, happiness felt so elusive to me; it felt like I was always chasing it with adventure, with love [and] jobs, but somehow it was beyond reach. I made a conscious decision to pay attention to when I felt the happiest and most at peace. I held on to those things, those mindsets, and art was a big part of that. It’s almost simple looking back, although I know I was faced with so much fear, anxiety and insecurity, but I just kept choosing what felt good and right for me, what I was passionate to learn and improve [on].
How would you describe the type of art that you create?
I feel like I’ve taken a bit from each art-making era I love and admire and kept what resonates and left the rest. Growing up, I was always enamored with cubism, dada, pop and modern art.
How has social media and the digital sphere helped you with your art career?
Once I stopped looking at it like a job and a major anxiety-inducing thing, I began to see how it could be a tool if I was intentional about my use of it. I follow only pages that inspire me, and I am intentional about my message and engaging with people that resonate with it.
How has the current global climate (and isolation) affected your art?
It’s heavy; it’s hard to create. I have had to work really hard at finding morning and nightly routines that re-energize me so that I can do what I need to do. Aside from that, there hasn’t been much mental clarity and peace to paint, although I have been working on my third book [that] I anticipate I’ll be done with by the fall.
How do you find inspiration?
My daydreams, mostly, haha. Travel, color, architecture, and spaces that feel warm and inviting, just looking like you could curl up with a good book — I make sure my work feels like that. Self-love, confidence, joy — I want that to be apparent in my subjects. [These themes] can come from me a lot, or images I come across while hoarding images for my life manifestation mood board.
What other artists inspire you?
So many! Sometimes, for simple things like color use; other times for complex things, like their process; others conceptually, like their drive.
Roy Lichtenstein really got me interested in art at a time when I was forcing photorealism, and it just didn’t mesh well with my patience or personality (haha). So his work always inspired me —along with other pop artists, with their ability to push the envelope on what is considered “good art.”
Patrick Nagel, for his ability to portray the sexuality of women in a way that felt appealing to me as a woman, rather than for the male gaze. [And] Malika Favre was one of the first illustrators I came across, and she really made me want to get into editorial illustration.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Top Image: Courtesy of Reyna Noriega