Interview! Pop-Culture Based Artist and Illustrator Margarita Garza

Guess who graciously accepted my request to interview her via email for this site? Margarita Garza specializes in watercolor art, abstract visual art, and hand-drawn typography. Due to her wide range of pop-culture interests (from cartoons to televisions sitcoms to horror films) her work ranges from lighthearted and humorous to dark and disruptive. She’s also just an all-around nice person. She knows how much I love books and reading and recently surprised me with a collection of my very own custom watercolor bookmarks! You can see more of Margarita’s work on her Insta and Etsy pages. She also has two shows coming up: Plano Artfest (April 27-28) and East Main Arts Festival (May 4).

Have you always identified as an artist? If so, in what ways were you creative when you were younger? If not, how old were you and what sparked it?

I’ve always felt uncomfortable calling myself an artist until recently. For some reason when I was younger (14-15 years old), I felt calling myself an artist sounded like I was faking it because the doodles and cartoons I was doing wasn’t considered “high art.” It’s definitely gotten easier as of late, but the uneasiness is still somewhat present. I’m not quite sure what sparked my creativity, but I do know that I have many memories of drawing alongside my older sister Lorena, who is also an artist.

How would you describe your current work? Describe the journey that led you to your current medium.

I currently work mainly in watercolors. I also use inks, colored pencil, and acrylic. The journey that led me to work with watercolors was being exposed to watercolor artists on Skillshare. I had this pull that I wanted to try it after seeing these amazing artists work with it as a result. Right now, I would describe my work pop-culture based. I also have a lot of more personal pieces I want to do. At one point during the past few years, I found myself doodling about shows or podcasts I love.

After starting college, I put art and drawing off for a long time. I was enrolled in art classes but, by that time, I had already attached art to graphic design, thus making it feel very work-/career-related. Art didn’t feel personal anymore and it wasn’t something I truly enjoyed like I had before so I stopped doing it for a really long time.

I would try to pick it up here and there but I would inevitably get frustrated with the result because it wasn’t “perfect” and “accurate.” It wasn’t until my late thirties that I rediscovered my love for art. Most of my coworkers were artists and they were just inspiring to be around. I began watching Skillshare videos, a recommendation from one coworker and began exposing myself to all of these artists who were teaching on the platform. I started feeling like I wanted to try watercolor. Watercolor led to trying other mediums and being excited about them as well. The feelings I had when I was younger, expressing myself and not caring if it was perfect or not, returned. I have a distinct memory of being in my car, talking on the phone at the 7-Eleven with my sister Lorena. I told her that I wanted to try all of these things but was hesitant because it would be a waste of money if I bought all the materials and did nothing with them. She told me flat out, “well, just do it.” I did and I’m glad I did because it’s helped me personally and emotionally in so many ways.

I just finished re-reading David Lynch’s Catching The Big Fish. In it, Lynch discusses where ideas come from and what we as artists need to do to create space for ourselves so the ideas come (for example, he meditates). Can you share any of the different ways you try to create space for yourself (both physically and mentally)?

I have a cozy studio that I slowly put together over time. I love the smell of it, too—I think all of the accumulated art products have created the distinct smell. My studio smells like paper to me. When I am in my studio, I take a deep breath, and I’m instantly relaxed. I also give myself breaks if I feel I’ve been working on something too hard.

What are 3 things you would tell/share with your younger artist self?

Don’t quit, keep working at it. Above all don’t diminish the thing that gives you peace and joy just because you think it’s not perfect or accurate or fine art.

Some of your illustrations incorporate words/quotes that are beautifully rendered via hand-drawn typography. Do you believe there is a connection between visual art and the written word? Why or why not? If you do believe there is a connection, are there any books, poems, essays, articles, song lyrics, interviews, etc. that have influenced or inspired you?

I do feel there is a connection between visual art and the written word. Personally, when I see a beautifully hand-lettered phrase I feel more impact depending on what fonts were used. It can elicit laughter, somberness, empathy.

There are a lot of artists that inspire me but the two I’m obsessed with right now are Lisa Cogden and Lauren Hom.

Lisa Cogden is a bad-ass artist who didn’t start her art career until she was 40. She’s written a lot of art books including A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives, which is very inspiring.

Lauren Hom has some of the best hand lettering skills I’ve ever seen. She is also really active with those who follow her on Instagram as well.

Is there anything else that inspires you?

There so many women that inspire me. Currently, I’m listening to a lot of Lizzo and also following a lot of body positive women on Instagram. The body positivity movement has been a big inspiration for me and has also helped me focus on art and self-realization rather than spending time feeding into diet culture. It’s something that I’m currently trying to incorporate into my more personal work.

What is one thing that someone would be surprised to learn about you?

The big one is that I was arrested on a warrant on the same day as my college visual communications senior portfolio review and had to miss it. I still graduated and never went to jail again!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Remember: Your life isn’t over at a certain age.