CPP student artists strive for self-expression

By Noemi Orozco, Feb. 21, 2024

In the age when conformity is accepted over creativity, self-expression art is a great tool for individuals to step outside the box and indulge in their true selves through a storytelling medium.

Although they may not share similarities in artistry, here are three student artists who share a common goal for authenticity and individuality through their art.

Isauro Villagrana

“Dark, bold and Isauro.”

These are three words visual communication design student Isauro Villagrana used to describe his art.

Self-taught, Villagrana first recognized his passion for the arts at 4 years old after gaining praise from his parents, leading him to become the versatile artist he is today.

His artistry ranges from graphic design to acrylic paintings, all creations sharing one joint facet: the significance of self-expression. To Villagrana, this means sharing his identity through art to bring awareness and representation to the communities he is a part of.

“I’m a Latin artist, so I tie that into a lot of my work,” said Villagrana.

Villagrana also embraces his relationship with queer culture as a bisexual artist in hope of one day designing for others within the LGBTQ+ community.

A testament to Villagrana’s authenticity is noted through his mock-up ice cream shop Frostbite Creamery. He created the digital model for his first visual communication design course at CPP, which stands as his proudest work to date.

“For this assignment I was tasked with designing a small business identity system for a client,” Villagrana said. “In this case every student was their own client.”

The mock-up creamery strayed away from typical ice cream parlor aesthetics seen from stores such as Baskin-Robbins and Dairy Queen and focused on representing its East LA location though the graffiti inspired font and flavor names like “El Chavo Chip.”

“I wanted to bring influences of Chicano culture and goth culture into it,” Villagrana said. “It’s very representative of what my style is in all aspects.”

Isauro Villagrana with his art. | Courtesy of Villagrana

Irene Elias

Irene Elias, a visual communication design student, also prides authenticity in her art. She even had her original designs tattooed on her body to prove it.

Elias shares her hand-drawn portraits and other miscellaneous doodles on her Instagram art account and gives life updates to her followers in the captions. Her drawings rely mostly on heavy expressionism by its deep shading and realistic composition, showing off her expertise in portraying her inner emotions and thoughts through image.

“I tend to pour myself into my art without really thinking about it, but I just let myself go,” said Elias. “I try to connect to myself, my feelings and experiences.”

Her attachment to portrait work arose from her fascination for traditional American tattoos she had seen in tattoo media growing up. From there, Elias created designs emulating the old-school aesthetic in sketchbooks, including a black and white heart-shaped box she had tattooed on her arm.

“I have a parent who is covered in tattoos, and me, a very young influential kid, admired the art so much because of that,” said Elias.

Elias’ exposure in portraits has also led her to kickstart a caricature business for events, parties and other community gatherings.

“All I look forward to is enjoying what I create and letting others enjoy it, too,” said Elias. “With caricatures, I create an experience with other people and make them feel happy.”

Irene Elias drawing caricatures. | Courtesy of Irene Elias

Gabe Stein

Although his major is outside of the art department, landscape architecture student Gabe Stein is no stranger to utilizing self-expression throughout his many artistic endeavors. Like Villagrana and Elias, Stein dedicates most of his social media to his creative talents, specifically his specialty in sketch work.

“I get inspired a lot from the world around me, including nature,” said Stein.

Stein combines his passion for the man-made and respect for the natural world in his sketches by drawing out plants surrounding architectural elements. He does so by visiting new cities and paying close attention to miniscule details.

“I throw my hand onto paper and quickly translate my thoughts, and the more I do that out in the real world, the more I can observe the place where I’m at,” said Stein.

One of Stein’s favorite pieces from his collection of sketches emerged from accidental splotches as he was experimenting with watercolors in which he turned the colorful chaos into a more coherent image by tracing over the paint with a black pen. The end result displayed how

self-flow mentality contributes to his art’s genuineness.

“It kind of started without any real plan as I started sputtering it onto the page,” said Stein. “I really loved the process because it was very in the moment and free.”

Away from sketches, Stein aims to expand his airbrush clothing business he started last summer in hope of creating new connections with other artists and unique customizations. His business includes garments such as t-shirts, denim jeans, hats and crewnecks with an original airbrush pattern inspired by those seen in early 2000s fashion on each item.

“It’s really not about the money for me,” said Stein. “It’s more about spreading my art for others to enjoy and gain happiness from.”

Gabe Stein airbrushing on hat. | Courtesy of Gabe Stein

Feature image courtesy of Isauro Villagrana, Irene Elias and Gabe Stein 

Verified by MonsterInsights