We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristen de Vera and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kristen, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I decided to pursue an art career because I want to tell stories and, hopefully, inspire others to do the same. Video games and cartoons served as my biggest inspirations for storytelling through their characters. Mother 3 is one of my favorite video games because of how the story is told separately through the 3 main characters that eventually group up to pursue the same goal. Infinity Train and Steven Universe were two shows that left an impact on me because the antagonists were given backstories. The “I want to be bad just because I want to” trope became “I became a bad person because I lost something I loved.” Seeing characters that were given so much depth and how much of an emotional impact they could give viewers really stuck with me. Once I was exposed to this method of storytelling I began to implement them into my own characters. I wanted them to feel like real people instead of these perfect, idealized figures that could do no wrong. Once I developed their motives and backstories I realized these were stories I wanted to tell and share with others.

The importance of diversity in media also served as a strong motive for me as well. I want people to look at a character and be able to see themselves. I’ll never forget the first time I saw an ube roll on Steven Universe or even when I heard a Filipino accent from a very minor character in Star Vs. The Forces of Evil. These were just minor instances but it made me feel warm and happy seeing characters that were like me. Diversity isn’t just limited to race, gender or sexuality but also through experiences. Animated shows are incorporating more characters with intricate backstories that provide context to them and to make them feel more human. Seeing a character experience something I went through made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

To make a long story short, I want to create animated TV shows that can spark a sense of wonder while also giving a sense of familiarity through its characters. There are still so many stories to tell through different lenses and I want to try it myself.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to think my art is unique because of my art style and character designs. Recently I learned that I really enjoy drawing a mix of “cartoony” and “anime-inspired” art styles. I’m happy to see myself exploring different styles while also knowing what I enjoy drawing. I’m also excited to finally start new projects with my own characters! There was a period during the beginning of college where I didn’t feel attached to my characters and became disinterested in the stories I had for them. I recently decided to redesign and revamp these old characters of mine and start rewriting their stories. I’m really excited to see how much more they’ll grow with me!

Getting to where I am now wasn’t easy. My parents were hesitant about me becoming an artist since they weren’t too familiar with how the art industry functions. It took a lot of convincing since they were set on me becoming a nurse or a doctor, I had to work hard to convince them that I was capable of my artistic abilities. With the help of my brother, they came around and learned to trust me and my choice to pursue an art career.

Art college has taught me so many lessons I wish I learned earlier. One of the most important lessons I learned came from one of the TA’s in my previous class. She told me “Only compare yourself to your past self.” It’s normal for artists to compare themselves to their peers and it’s something I find myself doing more often than I’d like to. It’s a difficult mindset to grow out of and once I heard that phrase I was determined to change how I viewed myself. Everyone grows at a different pace and I learned that I will eventually get to where I’d like to be. Maybe it’ll take longer than I’d like it to, and that’s okay. As long as I put in the work and see results, that’s all that matters. I learned to be kinder to myself as an artist and not be so hard on myself. Another lesson I learned is that I am still in college. I’m still learning and I am not a professional. Otherwise, I’d have a job by now. Not everything has to be perfect, college is the best time to make mistakes to learn more about myself as an artist and what I’m capable of.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m gonna be completely honest and say I feel like I haven’t seen enough of the places near me! But from where I’ve been, I do know several places I’d take a friend!

I’d start off slow and take them to Little Tokyo first! It’s one of my close friends’ and I’s favorite place to go to for food and shopping. I’d take them to get Japanese curry, ramen and try some Japanese street foods from this stand in the main plaza. Then we could go around shopping for clothes or plushies, my personal favorite.

Then we’d move onto the bigger places like Disneyland, The Aquarium of the Pacific, Universal Studios. For some of the more laid-back days I’d take them to some art museums like the LACMA, or Norton Simon Museum would be other places I’d take them! I’m also a boba enthusiast so taking them to get boba is a must. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this Shoutout to my friends, my parents, and my older brother.

I’ve met some of my closest friends from as early as first grade to high school and college. And by some odd coincidence, our group consists of artists. They are some of the most supportive people I have in my life. They’ve been through thick and thin with me and we will never hesitate to “hype each other up” whenever one of us shows a piece of art we’ve done. All of us have different, unique styles and it makes me appreciate our group even more. I love you guys so much and I can’t begin to express how much your love and support constantly motivates me.

Mom, Dad, thanks for coming around and learning to trust me. They always show how much they love and support my brother and me and I will forever be thankful for everything they do for us. And lastly, but not least, is my older brother. He’s my rock and the main reason I was able to pursue art in the first place. He taught me so much and is constantly helping me grow as a person and as an artist. I look up to him so much and I want to make him, my parents, and my friends proud. Everyone I have mentioned are one of the sole reasons I want to push myself to grow as an artist.

Website: kristendevera.squarespace.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ricekrispbee/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristen-de-vera-0361571a3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ricekrispbee

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