Nancy Flecha; Illustrator Optimist Etc...

Give us a little background about you. Where did you grow up and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I grew up in a rural mountain town in Washington. We’ve got a little 5 acre plot with horses and cows and lots of dogs. My dad is a woodworker and outfitted the property with all sorts of things, a sawmill, greenhouse, chicken coop, gazebo and treehouse. And my mom is our local librarian. I’m the youngest of four and we’re all creatives in our own rights.

In my free time I, of course, enjoy the arts. Drawing in the park or visiting the art museum or library. I love to bike around the city, practice yoga and go dancing. Lately I love to play host and have people over for dinner, it helps that my roommate is a fabulous cook!

A few photos from Nancy's IG. Mostly of her with greenery. Photo of Nancy's bedroom

One of my favorite parts about our in-person conversation was talking about your design process. Can you take us through that process. When I was a kid I was totally convinced that if I was truly an artist, I could pick up a pen and a masterpiece would just flow out. And that can’t be further from the truth! I purge ideas onto paper until I get attached to something, until I love an idea enough to add details. My illustration professor really hammered in the idea that you won’t always feel inspired but you will always be an artist. And good ideas don’t come quickly. I draw as much as I can, and most of it stays in my desk. But when I do feel confident and excited about something, I follow through with the steps I emailed to you earlier.

Where do you draw your color inspiration from? I’ve always been drawn to warmer, more saturated colors. In any photo editing apps, I go to temp first and spice that s*** up! But thinking more deeply, I love golden hour. I love being bathed in sunlight. I strive to make art that makes people feel good and feel happy and I think that time of day is a happy moment for most people. Everyone’s getting off work, they get to relax and eat! Yum. The saturation, however, probably comes from my Puerto Rican side. The caribbean loves color. I always loved driving through PR and instead of all our lame cookie cutter homes, theirs are bright pinks and oranges and greens! That’s the best part about art, colors don’t have to make sense or look natural. I love a pink sky, blue ground or green river.

How do you go about combining the colors you love into something that works so well together? As mentioned, I don’t think there’s any rules in color pairing. Unorthodox pairs like blues and oranges or reds and greens vibrate visually. That’s why sports teams use contrasting colors so often, they capture attention. But I have to take my subjects into consideration as well. Are they feeling more shy, reserved, calm? Then I’ll use cooler, analogous colors. Are they feeling a little more spicy, confident, loud? Then I’ll go warmer and contrasting. Colors say so much more subconsciously than we even realize. One of my favorite books to date is The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair. I think it’s the only piece of text that can put to words how impactful color relationships are.

Inspiration drawings from Nancy. Process of Nancy's work. From drawings to digital skectch to final piece Nancy drawing on her ipad. Nancy being distracted by her dogs.

The second part of your art that really drew us to you, was your depiction of women. How do you create your scenes and what inspires them? My scenes are inspired by lived experiences or overheard conversations. It’s a jumble of real life. But most importantly, I want my art to feel relatable. Maybe not for everyone, but for women of color or mixed race that have otherwise not been represented. I want to share the stories of curious, vibrant women.

Who inspires you and/or where do you draw inspiration from? I draw a lot of inspiration from my own life, my friends and my family. Nostalgia, ideas of chance or luck, seeking happiness and my dogs play a big part as well. I’m inspired by some of the masters like Artemesia Gentileschi, Paul Gauguin, Tamara de Lempicka and Toulouse-Lautrec. And I’m inspired by a lot of present-day loves like Isa Benistion (Gentle Thrills), Kelly Anna, Manjit Thapp, Gisela McDaniel, Pace Taylor and Daiana Ruiz.

Nancy's Artwork. One of women with dog enjoying the sun. On the right, two women dancing in the night. Nancy's Artwork. Women and the moon. On the right, women in bed with two dogs. Nancy's Artwork. Women a the beach. On the right, women on a bike. Nancy's Artwork. Women with flower in her hair. On the right, women using her hand to block out the sun.

Follow Nancy at @nancyflecha

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