Color can cure sadness, and we all need a little more color these days. This is why we want to introduce you to one of the most vibrant artists we know, the beautiful and talented Gabby Zapata from Los Angeles, California.
Gabby is a senior visual development artist for Disney Digital Network and often exhibits her work in solo and group gallery shows like WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disneyland/World and Disney Animation Studios for Hispanic Heritage Month. She also attends many art conventions like DesignerCon, Lightbox Expo, and Epcot International, where she sells her artwork and jewelry pieces from quite literally the most bright and colorful booth in the entire room. It’s really hard to miss her.
I mean, just look at how dull and pale we look compared to her picture above. But also, look at our Gabby Zapata earrings.
We’re fond of Gabby’s use of color and patterns to pay tribute to her Latino roots and her personal style. We see Gabby’s Mexican/Colombian heritage and special “sazón” shine through in everything she touches, whether it’s a piece of art, a booth background, a sticker, or a hairpin.
We asked Gabby some questions to give you a little glimpse into her world and hope you follow her on her creative journey, as she’s always a source of colorful inspiration.
1. How would you describe your personal style?
Colorful, bright, and fun!
2. Do you incorporate your heritage into your work?
Growing up, there weren’t a lot of characters who looked like me, so I try to incorporate my heritage a lot more into my own work so that others can feel represented. Whether if it’s skin tone or just traditional clothing, I try to celebrate it. We’re all worthy of being known and feel seen, no matter our backgrounds.
3. What kind of indigenous art pieces are you drawn to?
The kind that tells a story. Not just a beautiful pose, but the action. What is the character doing? I feel the more we incorporate story, the more connections we create.
4. When did you discover Otomi art?
I’ve always known this type of art existed, but never really looked into it until more recently. When I try to dig back into my roots, I saw I was always drawn to bright colors and that’s what made me fall in love with this type of beautiful art all over again.
5. How important is color in your work?
VERY! The world can be very dull, so why not incorporate some more uplifting colors that help lighten up the mood. If the color exists, why not?!
6. How do you keep your characters relatable?
People relate to characters when they’re doing something familiar. Which is what I try to incorporate and learn from. Especially in recent years, fashion and trends keep making a comeback so it’s always fun to try to add that into my work.
7. What do you think other character artists can do to keep diversity prevalent in character design?
I think having an understanding of how lighting affects darker skin tones in different lighting/environment is very important. Another thing is recognizing that people of color, come in all different shapes and sizes the same way lighter skin tones do as well! Too often I see the mistake of just applying a dark skin tone thinking that it automatically makes them a person of color, but it’s also about incorporating the different facial/body features too that help make the character more believable and true.
8. What advice would you give to an artist trying to find a niche and voice in a saturated market?
Be true to yourself, and the rest will come naturally.
9. As a senior visual development artist for Disney, how do you maintain your work/life balance?
So often we forget that once your art hobby becomes a job, you don’t want to draw anymore. I try to separate the two because it’s important to not forget how much fun you have while creating art. It’s also important to take breaks and live life a little! Always make time for yourself when you can, it’ll help inspire you more by creating new life experiences.