We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Cervantes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I believe it would be being honest to myself and my brand. I grew up in artesanias and they have always been a big part of the joy in my life. When I went to art school, I realized what they considered art was a very Western perspective of art. Even though a lot of the elements and styles were identical, Latinx art wasn’t given its due respect, except for a few exceptions. I had to think about this and follow my truth. I left art school and decided I was going to create art on my own terms and I was going to give importance to my heritage. What I found was, the more honest I was, the more people connected with the artwork. My work celebrates my culture, my community, and my family.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In my visual arts, I like to celebrate artesania and the techniques used in Heritage Arts of Mexico. I’ve had pinatas, repujado, and reverse glass painting in art shows. I’ve made nichos and retablos for private clients and for themed events. One of my favorite things is to create pieces that blend old world and modern. I am really proud of the chairs my mom and I make. She hand-embroiders the upholstery and I paint and refinish the wood. They’re always bright and colorful. I also love making pinatas and playing with scale. I can make a mini hummingbird pinata and in the same week make an 8″ tall hummingbird. In my writing I like to celebrate my community and latinx life. I write characters that can be my neighbor, friends, and family. I tell stories that show the complexities of being latinx, queer, and first-generation American. I am pretty proud of how my writing has evolved into theater and now short film. It’s testament to the importance of our stories.
There were definitely times when things weren’t easy but with everything that is important, you cannot give up. It often feels like you’re pushing against a locked door. But when you really believe in what you’re doing, you’ll find a window and break your way in. Then, you can open the door for someone else, which is a lesson I learned on this journey. There is room for everyone. We have an amazing opportunity to break the dog eat dog way of thinking. We can support each other. We can advocate for each other. We can become powerful force for change just by being kind to each other. Each of us brings different things to the table and it is all important. Art is for everyone and everyone has such individual taste. Trust me, there is a buyer for your art out there.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love this question! I would definitely give a tour of my beautiful El Sereno. We could start one day off with a sunrise hike at Ascot Hills to watch the sunrise up over the mountains with Downtown L.A. behind us. It’s a gorgeous view from the top of the hill and sometimes you can even see the ocean. Then we could stop by a local coffee shop like Su Merced Casa de Cafe. We could have a coffee and snack while kicking it by their fountain. If we were hungrier, we could cross the street and grub at MX3030 or drive to El Taquito, an El Sereno landmark.
After a shower, because the hike is no joke, we could drive to Highland Park and do some window shopping. I’d be sure to hit up Mi Vida and stop in to say hi to my amiga. I would definitely want to pick up a cheese plate from Queso Me by Luisa or a picnic basket from Colibri Cartering so we could find a local park to sit and lunch at.
In the evening I think I’d like to start at The Barkley for a drink and some jazz. Then we could head downtown for some queer nightlife. We could visit Precinct, or RedLine, for dancing and people watching or we could make our way east and got to Akbar for one of their fun nights, or Eagle if we were feeling our leather vibes.
After a night on the town, we could head back to El Sereno for some tacos. We have the best taco trucks for your post party cravings. Then we could drive around taking in the lights and the coyotes as they make their way back to the hills before surise.
I love that El Sereno is so close to everything. It’s the perfect jumping off point.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is to my Mom and Grandma. Although all of my family is my biggest support system, I recognize my success has been most directly influenced by these two. My grandma was my champion. She encouraged me to do crazy things and tell stories and stand up for myself. She would make up elaborate stories to entertain me and encourage me to add on to them. She was the second person I came out to and honestly the one I was most worried about telling. And she was the person who took it with the most ease. I remember her telling me she loved me regardless and there was nothing that would make her love me less. She also told me to be careful who I told because not everyone was gonna be ok with it. When I dove head first into art, she encouraged me. She would tell me about my great grandma and all the artwork she created. She helped me feel connected to my ancestors through art.
My mom is my biggest supporter. She shares her talents with me. She is an amazing fiber artist and has taught me so many different artesanias that she learned from my great grandma. I am a 5th generation artesano and I love the beauty of being able to say that. My mom has dusted me off and pulled me up when I’ve been down. She has been a shoulder to cry on when I needed it. She reminds me of what I have accomplished when I’m in those moments of self-doubt. She is also a collaborator. We have been upcycling chairs together for a few years now and response has been amazing. The best part of that though is that I get to work and create these beautiful art pieces with someone who means so much to me. That is the soul of these pieces.