Meet Raquel Cruz, Illustrator
Introducing the “Passport to People Series” where I’ll take you around the globe, via inspiring, creative souls I’ve met while on my travels!
Meet artist Raquel Cruz, who began her life in Honduras, made her way to Los Angeles, and is now based in Korea for the time being. We crossed paths on a girls night out in Hongdae (aka the stomping grounds of Seoul collegiates.) She’s the very definition of cool but not in an “unapproachable-I-could-never-be-on-par-with-you “kind of way. The first thing I noted was a brightness to her being, a magnetic aura that you couldn’t help but be drawn to. It was a one-time hangout but honestly, she stands out in my mind as one of the coolest people I met in Korea during my year there. And then I came upon her Instagram @raaqueelc and legit, I could not have become a bigger fan. For the past year now, Raquel has been collecting pieces of her day via a series of minimal illustrations. You can see in her drawings that it’s more about the moment then about technicalities. And that’s something to comment on in an age where people are more interested in perfection and curation than honoring the impulsive. But then again, if these are her first drafts, you can only imagine what she can do with a proper amount of time. She recently arrived to the one-year mark of her moleskin diaries just last week and has previewed a food ‘zine in the works. Read more about her inspirations below!
Hola chicita! Thanks for bringing your sketches to the blog! How would you describe your current style?
A little bit messy and borderline haphazardous. My lines aren’t as clean as I wish them to be. But when you are trying to draw something in under 10 minutes you can’t really keep your work clean. I always love adding as many colors as I can and creating different textures to break up the monotonous smoothness of the paper.
Do you connect more to people, animals, architecture, landscapes, or objects? Why?
I feel like I connect more to objects and architecture. They always have such interesting shapes and colors that continuously captivate me. I like to look at the small corners, zoom in on buildings and objects and view them as an abstract images instead of parts or corners of something bigger.
As travelers, journeys are important. Can you tell us how your artistic journey began?
I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. When I was in school I was always the token artistic student. My classmates would ask me to draw things for them. My family was/has been amazing supporting me to pursuit art and they were the ones that pushed me to study Fine Arts in college (even though I wanted to be a vet so bad, but who am I kidding, I practically faint at the sight of blood.) After I graduated, I always made time to draw and paint and have been lucky to have my work shown at events. However, I started posting illustrations on my instagram about a year ago. I was feeling disappointed that I had created no art in Korea and I needed a project to motivate me. I decided to keep it small and simple by illustrating what I see on a small Moleskin and using whatever pens I’m carrying in my purse or backpack.
Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?
Everywhere, especially architecture. I could be walking to work and see a color combination on a door and a wall that really interest me. Sometimes I see people do things that are completely mundane but they strike something within me that makes me feel like I just shares a moment with them but they don’t know it.
Even though you can record memories via sketching, do you still keep a journal?
Not really. My sketches are my journal. I’m 100% a visual person. Whenever I go through my illustrations I remember the exact place I was standing or sitting when I drew, the sounds around me and why I decided to draw it. I’m not really good at writing my ideas or feelings, it is easier for me to connect to images than to words.
Who’s your favorite living artist??
Oh man, this is really hard to answer. My favorite artist changes continuously. Currently, I am really into Jean Jullien’s and Donald Robertson’s illustrations and drawings. Both of them are inspiring because they create art continuously all day with whatever material they have. Both of their styles look like something that was done in under 10 minutes but their concepts and styles are well thought out.
Here are some of the drawings Raquel has come up with in her Moleskin project…
What’s a place that you’ve connected to on an artistic level?
Hong Kong and Tokyo. They both have so much to offer on different scales. Tokyo is an overload of colors, shapes, and styles and it has so much to offer. I was so overwhelmed by everything I saw or did that I had to tone down my illustrations to mere brush pen drawings. I wanted to draw everything I saw. Hong Kong was the perfect combination of everything I love about the West and Asia. The Chinese influence in older buildings merged with contemporary architecture was amazing. The whole city feels like a ying and yang of styles.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I don’t really see it as a bucket list but everytime I travel somewhere new, I make it my goal to visit as many local art museums and galleries as I can. I always enjoy visiting new museums and recognizing artwork from my Art textbooks.
What international art destination do you most want to visit?
James Turrell’s House of Light in Japan. If you are not familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and google him. His work is heavily based on interaction with light. In the House of Light in Japan, you rent the house, which is in the middle of nowhere, for the sole purpose of being awake when the sun rises and experiencing all the rich colors that rise with the sun. I’m doing a terrible job of describing how life changing his work can be.
Now just some random questions! The most important skill you learned on the road. Shoot!
Don’t ask what’s in the food unless it’s still alive or moving. Art wise, to be less shy about taking pictures of people and staring while I draw them.
Best purchase abroad.
I try to buy unique jewelry whenever I am abroad. I look for rings, necklaces or even small decorations that suit my style and reflect on the styles that spoke out to me the most of that place during my stay.
What’s a song that puts you in the traveling mood?
Roadtrip songs. Whenever I hear a good roadtrip song I imagine myself driving on the highway with my windows down and singing along.
Memorable advice from a stranger?
I was walking with my friend in San Francisco and a homeless chick came up to us when she saw us taking pictures. She said, “Look at the sky it’s so amazing. If I had a paintbrush I would paint the clouds like this and the sun like this. It looks so good today!” It was an entertaining reminder to look past all the tall buildings and crazy life to pause and appreciate nature’s colors and beauty.
I just can’t get enough of these sketches! Best of luck with your project, thank you for reminding us to record more!
Be sure to check out her Instagram to follow more of her posts!
She does some great sketches. What an awesome person to meet in Hongdae with all of the masses of people out and about who knows who you’ll meet there, huh? ^^
I love this interview series! This post was a fun read and some good inspiration to dust off my sketchpad.
Wow Raquel’s art is super awesome. I am surprised she’s not a mainstream artist with those lovely doodles – so much creativity.
This is such an interesting idea, it is always fascinating to meet different people on our travels isn’t it? Thank you for sharing!
Wow I really love these sketches – some really great use of color! Raquel is so talented and sounds like a fun chick to hang out with. It’s definitely a big difference going from Honduras to USA to South Korea. What an adventure!
What a unique way to capture travel memories. And I must say you have kicked of an innovative series of people interviews, I think this is wonderful
What a great interview! Raquel lives in Korea, like me (I’m in the southern part of the country though…she’s all the way up in Seoul). Love to hear stories about other expats in Korea! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thanks for the introduction to Raquel – jumping over to check out her instagram now!
Raquel: I love how you have combined your passions to create something truly unique – rock on! Your sketches are amazing. And I can totally see how you would have connected with Tokyo – I fell in love with the atmosphere here too!!
I LOVE these illustrations! What an inspiration, I recently tried to do a “doodle” a day highlighting either something that happened or even a mood I was feeling that day- mine are more crappy kid art, but Raquel’s are so beautifully done! I love how it only takes her 10 minutes and she is able to add pops of colors and make such great work! Thank you so much for introducing her to me!! I will be following!
I love the idea of this series and I can’t get over how much I love your design skills. Interesting to read about Raquel’s story.
What a small world! I had the pleasure of hanging out with Raquel a few weeks ago with a mutual friends of her and like you is a big fan of her work and who she is. Pretty awesome she never stops fueling her creative side wherever she goes!