We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Fajin Riveiro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am originally from Galicia, a region in northwestern Spain. In 2012 my adventurous personality led me to move to Sweden for five years and then, in 2019, to the US to pursue a graduate degree in Illustration Practice from The Maryland Institute College of Art.
My sisters and I were raised by a very independent and adventurous mother who loves learning new languages, meeting people from other cultures and who cares very deeply about the environment. Of course, we were very lucky to be raised in a family who has access to farming and many of the products we consumed came directly from the land. My mother always encouraged me to get out of my confort zone, learn from others and experience things on my own, so that’s what I’ve trying to do ever since I was a teenager. Our father is a silversmith by training but skillful in many art forms. He taught me to care about details when creating artwork, to be patient and to be caring.
I moved to Sweden without having a job there and with a very low level of Swedish, so the first four months were very scary and hard. Eventually I became economically stable by working three jobs. For some reason, moving to the US to attend college was scarier than moving to Sweden. I was 7 years older, I had many expectations, many of which crashed in the first few months, and I was concerned about cultural shock and the feeling of loneliness. Luckily, I learned from my family to be resilient and resourceful, which helped me balance my life here, even since the pandemic began. Meeting wonderful people first at grad school and then at work help as well!
Today I see myself as somebody positive, hardworking and very excited about the future. Being positive in the world we live in is not easy, but I tell myself that the only way is forward. I am always learning, listening and creating, but I also take a pause now and then to breathe and reset if I need to. As my mother taught me, I try to be environmentally aware, to me that means upcyling as much as I can, using public transportation and continue educating myself, among other things. I incorporate upcycling in my artwork whenever possible and pass the message to others.
I see myself as a student willing to continue learning.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I consider myself a multidisciplinary artist with a focus in creating picture books, artist books and environmentally friendly art. I am very excited about finishing the drafts for three picture books I am currently working on, finding better methods to speed up and improve my upcycle art and traveling to different locations in the US to draw inspiration from them.
I am currently working in an inclusive art school in Baltimore where I get to do collaborative projects with professionals and I get to see the world from the understanding of my wonderful young student artists. They inspire my picture books.
I applied for this job before finishing college and I was lucky to be hired to start soon after. It’s been now 3 1/2 months and I could not be happier.
I devote what’s left of my time to working on the drafts of my picture books. I am currently working on one about a magic lake. I am hoping to find an agent in the US who can help me find a publisher. This is not an easy endeavor, but I believe my story has potential.
I would like the world to know that there is room for everyone and everyone’s creativity in the world and that hard work is always the right way to go. It is OK to be scared, unsure or demotivated sometimes, just give yourself space to take a break and continue as soon as you can.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to National Aquarium, the M&T Bank Stadium for a football match, to W 36 ST in Hampden to visit all the cute stores and to Fells Point. In Fells Point I would recommend them to visit Emporium Collagia, where they could find the beautiful rare objects curated by the owner. Finally, I would take them to 219 S Durham St, in Upper Fells, to see the gorgeous Billie Holiday murals.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Apart from thanking my parents and friends for their encouragement, I will always be thankful to my beloved sponsors without whom I would not have been able to afford studying in grad school in the US. MFA in Illustration Practice Director Whitney Sherman, and professors Kim Ellen Hall, Shadra Strickland and Stephanie Garmey, encouraged me to get out of my confort zone artistically speaking, taught me how to see art in different lights and forms and gave me the tools to understand better the illustration industry in the US.
Youtube: Laura Riveiro
Other: Vimeo: Laura Riveiro