Interview with Karina Padilla

You may have seen Karina on Instagram’s suggested page. Chances are, you’re probably already following her. And, why wouldn’t you? Karina is a mexican multimedia artist using her social media to reach out to those who need it. She’s eloquent on her captions, speaking on what is like to be a woman who has a body, mental illness, and art. It’s a whole lot more than self-love and confidence, it’s about thriving, inspiring, and redefining what it means to be empowered.

Here’s what she talked to us about.

Where are you from? Did you attend college? Could you share with us a special childhood memory of yours?

Im originally from the Bay Area, born and raised. I did, I attended a few community colleges but was never really set on a specific idea for where I wanted my education to take me. I was passionate about learning but attending college for me just felt really dull and confusing for me throughout the 3 or so years that I was studying. The driving force to finish my studies was to be able to make my parents feel at ease that I completed my education. They’re traditional Mexican parents so education has always been a top priority for their kids.

When did you first begin to find your voice as an artist? Being mexicana, did you struggle with identifying as an artist? Did your family have difficulty supporting your artistic endeavors?

I always enjoyed writing and I think that was definitely what made me dive into the creative outlets I use today. I sort of linked my writing and my drawing/painting together. Some of the first pieces I ever made were watercolor paintings where I would include my writing in with the painting, it was really eye-opening for me to be able to bring those two passions together. I learned that I had a lot to say and the more I worked on my work, the stronger those feelings became.

My parents definitely didn’t see the art I was making as anything fundamental to my life when I was first starting to create my artwork so they didn’t give it much attention. I think they slowly saw that my artwork was something I was giving 100% of my time, love and focus to and that’s what really got them to take it as seriously as I did. It came as a huge surprise to them when I was able to support myself financially. I grew up in a poor household so my parents seeing me hustle and do my thing definitely opened their eyes to how much I love what I do and how hard I work for it.

Have you had any technical training in drawing, painting or sculpture?

No, I never took any art classes or had any technical training. I just slowly developed my hand as time went on.

What are your favorite mediums to work with?

It’s so hard to choose! I especially love working with oil pastels, charcoal and sumi ink. I think those mediums have a way of inspiring me and getting me out of those ‘I hate everything I'm making’ episodes.

You design on everything from shoes, to purses, to bikinis. How do you pick the items you want to personalize?

I love to design things that I would have fun wearing and that would give me a boost of happiness. It’s all about that love.

When someone buys a purse, a shirt, or even a print, how do you want your art to be manifested in their lives? Like, what kind of vision do your have for your items… do you see the owner of the purse wearing it only for special occasions or having it as their everyday staple?

These are all things I’ve made out of love so I think the idea is just to keep that love going. The reason I started making hand-made pieces was because it felt good to have to work on something that came from my vision and my hands and have someone look after it and love it as much I loved making it. It’s such a beautiful feeling to have people tell me that my designs speak to them and that they serve as a reminder of some sort to them because that’s what I love about my favorite artists- the voice they bring to me and my life. I feel like I make a new life long friend every time I sell my pieces because this person now has a piece of me and my message roaming around the world with them. I get especially excited sending out my pieces overseas to places I haven’t had the chance to see yet- it's so surreal to think of all these people walking around with a piece of myself with them.

In your early twenties you moved from CA to NYC, something that may seem recklessly brave to many. Yet, your hustle is far from being simply daring; it has focus and a successful drive. What helps you stay focused? Where do you find motivation? How do you construct your goals?

From the age of 16, I had these dreams that to me seemed completely impossible. I wanted to travel, I wanted to roam the unknown, I wanted to experience something bigger than myself, I was so unbelievably tired of this dull everyday life everyone around me seemed to be settled in. I didn’t see myself growing anymore if I stayed in CA. I wanted to experience my dreams so badly and at some point, I just knew I was going to give it my absolute all and experience it for the sake of the life I felt I was losing by not trying. The support from my audience means the absolute world to me for that reason. They were there through it all and rooted for me throughout the entire move and it felt absolutely incredible to know so many people wanted this for me just as badly as I did. I find a lot of my motivation now simply from that move I made. I think moving across the country to a completely different environment all on my own was something I needed to do to find out who I was. Moving to NYC was such an extreme in itself and it forced so much out of me, I woke up feeling the life in my hands every morning. I felt more important than I ever had in my entire life and I was getting to know myself so much every single day. It single handedly gave me the most eye opening experiences I'll ever go through in my life and I think that’s what I was seeking by moving, I wanted to grow in solitude. It gave me all the confidence in the world and more and I love the person I am now because of it.

One thing that is very present on your Instagram posts is honesty. What have you noticed about being confidently yourself with an audience of more than 40 thousand?

I’ve noticed that honesty will piss a lot of small-minded people off but will also attract like-minded people. The pros definitely outweigh the cons.

Having such a popular account, how do you face critique regarding your art / your hustle?

Instagram is just full of people being negative for the sake of being negative so I turn my cheek to most of it. I know the person I am and why I do what I do and that I love to do it so the opinions or critiques of others don't often phase me.

Do you ever see the person that you present on the internet get misconstructed?

I worry about that sometimes, yeah. A lot of people can easily get sucked into thinking they know you based off your presence online and that can definitely get frustrating.

Have you had any pictures removed from Instagram? How often?

I believe I’ve had three photos taken down in the span of a year

How do you deal with hateful responses on what some would call “provocative” pictures? Is your intention to provoke? Do these kind of opinions have any effect on your self-image?

Whenever I get hate comments on photos of me that some call “provocative” I take it as an opportunity to speak up on topics that are important to me and gives me the platform to let girls know that they shouldn’t fall victim to others’ opinions on how they should be or act or think. Its time to give the power back to the woman over herself and her body and I will always stand for that, no matter what

Can you leave us with any advice you might have for latinx creatives?

You have a voice, a very strong one. Your voice and your ideas matter - they hold value and importance. Stand with them.

All images taken from Karina's Instagram

Ana Ortiz Varela