We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Fernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Melissa, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work-life balance has shifted towards prioritizing my emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellness and rest. I used to overextend my work into my personal life and blurred the boundaries between the two. I saw productivity as a means of self-worth and success and pushed myself to toxic extremes. I realize this stemmed from perfectionism, over-achieving tendencies, and hustle culture. I forced myself to explore the nuances and shifts between work and play and saw an opportunity to be kinder to myself. There are some days that I wake up motivated to work and exercise my creativity by drawing, collaborating with others on projects, or revising sketches, and other days that I take long naps at parks, cook dinner with friends or watch Youtube videos.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I use comics/graphic novels, digital painting, animation and collage as my preferred mediums in hopes that my passion, authenticity and curiosity will inspire others. I share my personal experiences of being a Brown Latine queer, gender-fluid person and highlight intersecting identities from those varying communities, backgrounds and cultures. Recently, I made a comic about my doubts, fears and aspirations being non-binary/gender-fluid and the writing and illustrations that informed that work, is something I’m proud of. I’m hoping to later research, collaborate and visualize the encompassing trans/gnc/non-binary narratives within eating disorders and deconstruct those racist frameworks. I got to where I am today because of my chosen family, friends, mentors and strangers. I continuously have to overcome challenges because of my identity and creative practices. I’ve learned to reach out to my community and ask for help.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Places I would take them would be Switzer Falls, MOCA, Other Books LA, Daiso, Los Globos and Gallery Nucleus. Places to eat and hang out would be Little Tokyo (Kinokuniya LA, Ramen Maruya), Pasadena (Amara Cafe and Restaurant, the Caltech campus), Avenue 26, and the Drag Brunch at Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe. Also, people watching on Hollywood Boulevard or the Santa Monica Pier is always an exciting endeavor.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my chosen family comprised of close queer friends and mentors. Their names are Alejandra Fernandez, Lauren Williams, Athena Aquino, Ibby Day, Arlene Tomista, Grace Wang, Amanda Oesef and Caro Gonzales. These compassionate, intelligent, hardworking individuals have offered me so much guidance, love and healing. Whether it’s through weekly check-in phone calls, organizing a workshop or sharing memes about capitalism, their presence is incredible.

Website: sparklmelissa.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sparklemeli

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.