1xRUN is thrilled to welcome Melissa Villaseñor for her first limited print editions as part of our International Women’s Day collection! Best known as the first-ever Latina cast member of Saturday Night Live, the multitalented Villaseñor is also a stand-up comedian, voice actress, musician, and fine artist.
Her simplistic, spirited drawing style is an embrace of “the little Melissa”, nodding to Mexican folk art and Shel Silverstein. For Villaseñor, envisioning herself as a warm sun is to capture her desires and feelings of the moment, saving them for a rainy day. Read our exclusive interview below.
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about these two pieces, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this imagery?
Melissa Villaseñor: These two drawings are created from my childlike side, the little Melissa. I drew the little girl with the sun in her mirror reflection on New Year’s morning while I was spending the night at my parents’ house. I felt positive thoughts swarm my head and heart as I drew this little girl seeing herself in the mirror as a sunny sun. I feel that when I am light, silly, filled with gratitude and joy, that I am a yellow warm sun. I visualize it as my body and it makes days lighter. Of course, I always want that feeling to stay.
The little doll is inspired by the one I got from my Grandma as a little girl. There is a funny story behind this doll. When I was very little, my Grandma got me the doll, but I said that she can keep it. So for many, many years, my grandma had it on top of her fridge. I can’t recall why the doll popped into my mind, but over the holiday break I went to visit my grandparents and I gave my grandma a print of this drawing, and she exchanged it for the doll. Now I have the doll at my house. I am so drawn to Mexican artists and the craftsmanship of these sweet dolls, and the figurines are so beautiful. I love vibrant colors, so I encourage folks to color her in bright colors if you’d like to!
1x: Were these images part of an ongoing series, or were they created for this International Women’s Day collection?
Villaseñor: It was created for this particular collection, I knew that my art would be featured and I wanted some pieces that defined me in my light self and show my two different styles of drawing. The very simple one that reminds me of Shel Silverstein’s work, and the doll is how some of my work is very detailed with lines and dimensions.
1x: Tell us about your execution of this imagery.
Villaseñor: I think the little girl with sun took probably only an hour. The doll however may have taken two. As I’ve been drawing more over the past years, I can finish a piece in a few hours. I have a thing where, if I feel the emotion in that moment, I must complete it then and there. I’ve tried to finish pieces the next day or whenever I have time but the feeling has to be there. So I wait for another wave of emotion and motivation to draw it. Especially if I have no deadline. I just used Bristol Paper and pencil first to make the outline then I draw on top of the pencil with different size Faber Castell pens.
1x: What were some of your earliest interactions with art growing up?
Villaseñor: The earliest interactions for me with art was Shel Silverstein as a kid. I just loved the simplicity and emotion his work has. I also understood it. I didn’t have to overthink. Falling Up was the book I had and The Missing Piece. Then in high school I began doodling more in notebooks and I noticed I loved drawing lines. My Mom also was a fan of impressionist artists like George Seurat, who did the little dots in paintings. I found that so cool and different, and that makes sense for some pieces I do today that use a lot of tiny dots to give dimension and shape.
1x: What are some of the biggest challenges to being a working artist?
Villaseñor: When I don’t feel it or when it doesn’t come out how I envisioned it in my mind. When I judge myself before even drawing it. Sometimes if I share the piece too early online or just sharing in general and someone says one thing or makes a joke on it it hurts my feelings cause it was a vulnerable piece I shared. I am known as a comedian so if a fan that doesn’t know me too well they see comedy and think I am being funny. But there has been such an awesome growing fan base that get my pieces and connect with them, and tell me how much it helps them to know they aren’t alone in feelings and thoughts.
1x: In what ways is the art industry becoming more (or less) accepting and equitable for women?
Villaseñor: I’m still very much learning about the art world, but I think in general it’s all becoming more accepting for women identifying artists. I’ve always created whatever I felt my soul was desiring, and push to get my work out there whether in comedy, music, or art.
1x: What are some changes that you would like to see?
Villaseñor: Way more female artists featured in museums and galleries, and for women to receive equal pay.
1x: What artists have inspired you in the past? Who are some woman-identifying artists that inspire you today?
Villaseñor: Frida for sure. Today definitely Virginia Mori and Brandi Milne.
1x: What advice would you give to any aspiring artists?
Villaseñor: To listen to your feelings. They give birth to the ideas and creations so don’t block the feelings. Let them flow. Create and know that with practice your work Keeps on getting better.