We had the good fortune of connecting with Bianca Austria and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bianca, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am currently based in Los Angeles, California but I grew up in Manila, Philippines. My childhood was filled with trips to the market, hollering at street food vendors, taking trips to my father’s ancestral province, and eating lots of Filipino food. I was the only daughter in a Filipino-Catholic family which meant meant a lot of constant surveillance from my parents. I lived a very comfortable and sheltered life which only fueled my hunger for independence and freedom. I am a rebel by heart and my parents would agree. Despite my never-ending wanderlust, I still find myself constantly thinking of my home: the Philippines. This constant push-and-pull of leaving home and yearning for it has inspired me to become a visual storyteller in my own way. My passion for the Philippines and the rich culture my motherland has to offer has been my favorite subject in my work. My dream is to share the stories of my childhood and my community; to make our experiences visible, valid, and to make our voices ultimately heard.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art has always been deeply personal and nostalgic for me. All of my work is pulled from my earliest memories of the Philippines and the rich childhood and adolescence I experienced back home. I am most proud and excited of my work when I am able to remind somebody of their own memories and experiences. I’ve had my Etsy shop for almost a year now, and though it isn’t always easy to run it solo, I am motivated and inspired when my customers go out of their way to tell me how much it makes them think of home. I don’t have a complex philosophy behind my work, nor am I trying to convince anybody of anything. If there’s one thing I learned in art school, it is that a picture is worth a thousand words and that we need more women of color making these pictures, and by extension, telling these stories. I am a proud Filipina and I want to visually narrate the beauty of my motherland and hopefully inspire others to learn more about Filipino culture and maybe one day visit!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting Los Angeles, I would take them to go see the coast! I love the quieter parts of Malibu and I do think sunsets hit a little different along Pacific Coast Highway (I wish Southern California sunsets lasted longer!). Throughout the week, I would take them to my favorite places to eat: Teddy’s Red Tacos Tacos (Venice), Gjelina (Venice), Shaka Shack Burger (Santa Monica), Pann’s Restaurant (Los Angeles), The Ramen Joint (Los Angeles), Grand Central Market (Los Angeles), Ayara Thai Cuisine (Los Angeles) are just a few of my favorite spots. At some point I would have to take them to my all-time favorite restaurant though: Teri’s Place in Torrance. It’s a small hole-in-the wall that serves Japanese food in a quiet strip mall on the corner of Artesia and Van Ness. I’ve been going to this place for years, thanks to my dad who discovered it more than ten years back. For drinking, I like to go to The Waterfront (Venice) mainly because their drinks menu is pretty extensive and they have the best soft pretzel I have ever had. I also like to visit Rasselbock Kitchen & Beer Garden (Long Beach) and this tiki bar called The Bamboo Club (Long Beach). Rasselbock has weekly game nights too which gets really fun and exciting! I live right by Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey and it’s one of the few beaches nearby that have fire pits for bonfires. I would love to cap off the week with a classic bonfire where we could cook some s’mores and tell stories right by the shore.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Hell yeah! Everything I do is for my folks. I dedicate this shoutout to first and foremost, my family. Art has been a bit under appreciated and misunderstood when compared to STEM degrees. It has always been the “road less traveled” in a map of career options, especially for Filipino families. I would like to thank my parents for all the love, faith and trust they have in my choices and capabilities. I would also like to dedicate this shoutout to my partner Isaiah for being the best cheerleader I could ask for. To my dearest friends, thank you for always rooting for me and staying up late to work with me. I am so grateful and lucky to have such a healthy support-system of human beings from such diverse backgrounds. And of course, this shoutout is for my community! I am constantly inspired by the work of my people, the beauty of our land, and the wisdom of our stories. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Other: Etsy: BarkadaStudio