Every artist has a back-story; something that changes their outlook on their artistic choices and evolves them into the artist they want to become.

Melissa Montoya is a third-year graphic design student who found her passion for using gouache to create pieces that use song lyrics as inspiration.

Gouache, pronounced the same way as “squash,” and is more opaque than watercolor paints.

“I don’t like the plastic look of acrylic paint,” Montoya said. “Water color and gouache have an organic feel to them and I like that.”

Montoya was introduced to gouache two years ago after visiting a museum and observing the works that used gouache.

She admired how the colors presented themselves on the paper, and became eager to try something new.

Music gives her inspiration to create her hand lettering pieces, and she said her choices come from her synesthesia, a phenomenon and technique where the visual sensation she feels when she hears certain music is translated into illustration.

“Each song has different colors or personalities and it’s about joining sounds and images together,” Montoya said.

Montoya’s favorite class at Cal Poly Pomona has been her Typography II class where she experimented with the layout of type and acquired many tips for her artwork.

She is very critical of her work and appreciates the feedback she receives from other artists.

Montoya credits her classmates with the improvement she has made in her art.

“They’re ultimately going to be your competition, but you can be so easily inspired and it makes you want to improve and be as good as them,” Montoya said.

Magazine layouts influenced her artistic growth.

Montoya organized collages in her youth and eventually took her talents to her high school’s newspaper and yearbook programs.

Her ambition is to work in print, although she recognizes that the world is evolving into a more digital era.

Montoya describes herself as shy and “in [her] shell.” But she believes that the music she listens to and the art she creates from the lyrics have opened her up to showcasing her work.

A

Lyric painting A. (Courtesy of Melissa Montoya)

Montoya created this piece after getting the lyrics to Ariana Grande’s “Knew Better/Forever Boy” stuck in her head.

“[Grande’s] songs are feminine and girly,” Montoya said. “I wanted to give this piece a similar feel to the song itself.”

L1

Lyric painting L1. (Courtesy of Melissa Montoya)

These words lettered by Montoya are lyrics from “Up We Go,” a song by Canadian electropop singer and songwriter, Lights.

Montoya enjoys listening to the musician because her music promotes positivity and living life.

“I wanted to evoke strong imagery with ‘darker days’ by making it dark and bold,” Montoya said. “The same with ‘brighter,’ I added color to give it a happy feel.”

T1

Lyric painting T1. (Courtesy of Melissa Montoya)

Montoya used gouache and ink to create this piece based on Taylor Swift’s “Untouchable.”

It is one of her earlier pieces experimenting with lettering.

“I was specific about how I wanted this to look, create a specific mood. Dreamy. Dark but light at the same time,” Montoya said.

Acrylic paint and a gold leaf ink pen were also used to create this piece.

L2

Based on another song by Lights, Montoya said that this piece doesn’t reflect the lyrics as much as the others.

“I was trying a certain style, emphasizing specific words in the lyrics, and these lyrics stand out to me when I sing the song,” Montoya said.

T2

Lyric painting T2. (Courtesy of Melissa Montoya)

This piece features lyrics from “Look What You Made Me Do,” another song by Swift.

Montoya chose a palette to start, but said, “I had no direction at first, I was just going with it as I was creating.”

She also said that she would go back and make some changes to this piece if she ever got the chance to.

L3

Lyric painting L1. (Courtesy of Melissa Montoya)

This piece contains some of the lyrics from Lights’s song, “Warrior,” and Montoya wanted to make sure the layout fit the song.

“This song is about feeling invincible,” said Montoya. “I wanted the elements to work together: strong, structural and powerful.”

T3

Lyric painting T3. (Courtesy of Melissa Montoya)

 

Another piece based on a Taylor Swift song, this piece was not created using gouache like Montoya’s other pieces.

She used acrylic paint, glitter and water color to create a vibrant piece to Swift’s “Welcome to New York.”

“It’s about a new beginning, new phase or era of your life,” Montoya said.

Unlike the other pieces, she sketched the script without using computer fonts as a template.

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