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Art Meets Architecture: An Interview with Mayte Valencia

By Oscar Perez

Mayte Valencia, is an artist from Veracruz who moved to Laredo 8 years ago and has been making her mark on the art world here in the city. She is an Architect who stays close to her art roots and focuses on helping others through her art classes. I came across her art on social media and really loved her mural artwork with lettering. I sat down with her to talk all about how she balances art with architecture, her inspiration, her process and overall vision for her work. Take a read. 

Oscar Perez: Mayte, thanks for meeting with me! Where am I catching you at right now? Any projects going on?

Mayte Valencia: Yes, I’m actually working on some paintings for El Pescador on Shiloh. My husband and I designed the remodel so we are proposing some paintings for the bar area. 

You shared that you are an architect so I wanted to ask you if you would identify with being an artist or an architect first?

I was first an artist because that has been with me since I can remember. My mom tells me I would always carry my notebook, pencils and colors. I would fight for my colors rather than for toys. Ever since I was a little girl I think I was a painter first, even on the walls at home, haha. 

Did you study art?

When pursuing a career in architecture you end up studying some art. You don’t study it in detail but it is an important part of architecture. You have to sketch the designs for a building or whatever you are putting together.

Did you disconnect from art when you started studying architecture?

Actually my first career choice was to study the arts, however, my parents told me you will probably starve to death, haha. They said I should choose a career where I can actually make money. In my heart I have always had that little itch to study the arts in detail. In general, I love sculptures, murals, everything. 

Great! Let’s get into the art! Talking about murals… what was your first mural? 

I can say it was one that I painted on my bedroom wall when I was growing up. It was a collage of cartoons. I really liked cartoons. 

Nice! What would you say is your preferred art medium? 

I prefer acrylic paint when it comes to art. 

You shared that you like to use black and white. What do you like about it?

I think black is a basic color yet elegant. White represents the light, something good. I try to use black and white in my designs. Even in the clothing I wear… I’m always wearing black, haha.

What is your art style? What identifies it?

I would have to say the vintage look with the letters and abstract art.

What inspires you?

My family inspires me, however, I can say God inspires me first. 

What is your process for pieces you create?

I first think of the text I will be using then I will sketch something out of it. I really like art that has a lot of color so I guide myself with the colors. 

Would you say you have made your art a business? 

I really like to paint. If they didn’t pay me for it, it wouldn’t matter, I still enjoy it. If they pay me well that’s even better, however, it’s not my primary business. It is part of it. 

I see you give art classes as well. Tell me about that. 

I give art classes for kids because I feel I have the patience for it. When I was a little girl I always wanted to attend art classes but I never got a chance to go. I try to be affordable so kids have a chance to attend.

That’s awesome! Tell me about when you moved to Laredo. Did you start sharing your art publicly as soon as you moved here?

It took me 3 to 4 years and you see what happened was that I didn’t know that many people in the art field. My husband and I started getting involved and looking for people who were doing the same activities as artists in the city. I ended up communicating with some artists here in Laredo after finding them here on Facebook and that’s how I started getting involved. 

What do you think is the most difficult thing for an artist to get their work out in the public here in Laredo?

I would say that there are not that many places/events or clubs in general where artists can share their work to make it known. There are some events here in the city but it’s still not viral yet. You have to look in detail to be aware of what’s going on with the arts. There is a group on Facebook named Laredo Arts that is helping improve that.

Do you think it’s important for an artist to be on social media to give their art exposure?

I think it’s important because more than TV I think the internet is the first platform where people can come across your work. I see Instagram as a gallery for people to see the work and Facebook as a platform to promote it. 

Do you think an artist’s artwork is impacted if they keep up with other artists on social media?

As you see other artists’ work I don’t think you should go copy it but instead it should inspire you and open up your vision. 

What do you recommend for someone that may be considering art as a career? 

I would say not to hold back, that if they want to create art they should. Judgement and comments shouldn’t hold them back. People might tell you that you are no good and I believe that as long as you are creating something, that is already art. There is no specific art you will belong to, I think art is being free. Everyone will have their own view of your art and you won’t keep everyone happy.

I love that! What’s your overall vision for your art? 

I would love to create a mural that would be for the public. It would be seen by more people, not necessarily appreciated, but seen by more people. 

Where could they find your work or keep in touch with you?

Primarily they can find me on Facebook @ArtByMayteValencia or on Instagram @MV_Artistic

Thank you Mayte! I know you will inspire someone reading this. I look forward to seeing that public mural one day. 

Don’t forget to go follow Mayte on her social media to keep up with her journey!

– Happy Oscar

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