Arts & Life

Long Beach artist Priscilla Moreno’s work embraces eccentricity and is inspired by family

In the middle of chaos, Priscilla Moreno, 28, took a leap of faith and launched herself as a full-time artist.

Priscilla Moreno wearing merchandise designed by her. Photo courtesy of Priscilla Moreno.

Moreno hung up her apron, picked up her brushes and committed to dedicating all her time to what she loves the most, illustrating. She went from responding to a boss to making her own schedule on her own terms and time.

But this was not a spontaneous decision for Moreno.

Moreno is a surreal illustrator out of Long Beach who has been creating since she was a child. She is a self-taught artist whose artistic skills have grown throughout the years.

“I was a waitress for so many years and I finally just decided to go full-time on my artwork,” Moreno said. “I couldn’t be happier. It was a really stressful decision to make but it just takes a lot of discipline and being organized with my time.”

Moreno’s art has been featured in a number of art galleries and shows.

She had the opportunity to work with Saturday Night Live’s Melissa Villaseñor to design the cover art for Villaseñor’s “Laughing With Myself” podcast. Moreno has also worked with various companies including Meow Skateboards and Gusto Bread.

Arturo Alonso Enciso, 30, is the co-owner of the bakery Gusto Bread.

Moreno designed merchandise for the bakery located in Long Beach. Enciso said that he was drawn to Moreno’s retro style.

“That’s what I really loved about her artwork,” Enciso said. “It has this classic kind of feel to it. Almost like The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ type stuff. I like her approach to it.”

Priscilla Moreno working on art pieces outside. Photo courtesy of Priscilla Moreno.

Moreno said her grandfather played a huge role in her career as an artist, given that he was a painter himself. She recalled seeing him paint beautiful portraits of people when she was younger.

“He would always be drawing,” Moreno said. “I think that’s what got us into [art].”

Although their styles are different, his artistic genes were passed down to Moreno. She joked that his creativity skipped a generation since her parents are not artistic, but Moreno and her siblings are.

Although they were not artists themselves, Moreno said that her parents were there every step of the way to ensure that she and her siblings had everything they needed to pursue their dreams as creatives.

When Moreno was growing up, she said that she struggled to accept her “big nose” because she was constantly teased for it. Through her art, Moreno explained that she was able to reclaim her nose as something that makes her who she is.

“I ended up accepting it and actually loving it to the point where I just love drawing people [like that],” Moreno said. “It’s just fun and quirky and I love it.”

Moreno created many characters with big noses and it eventually became a staple in her illustrations. Now, her art is easily recognizable due to the consistent way she illustrates her characters.

But inspiration for her characters can come to Moreno at any given time, regardless of where she is or what she is doing.

“It’s one of the things I love to do,” Moreno said. “Especially if I’m travelling, me and my boyfriend just sit down, either have a coffee or a cocktail, and just people watch. It’s always the people that have those eccentric characteristics, whether it’s a nose or big glasses or something that catches my eye and I want to draw it.”

Each character Moreno creates must have more to them than just pretty colors.

“That’s one thing I like to do with my characters,” Moreno said. “I usually have a story behind what that person is. It’s not just a painting on a paper.”

Priscilla Moreno, 28, visiting La Casa Azul, the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. Photo courtesy of Priscilla Moreno.

Moreno drew inspiration from not only her grandfather and herself, but from other artists too. She recalled seeing work from artists like Pablo Picasso, Virgil Partch and Saul Steinberg and used their artistry to later incorporate in her own illustrations.

But, Moreno expressed she was deeply inspired by her own sister.

That feeling of inspiration is mutual among the Moreno sisters. Heidi Moreno described her sister as someone who is an “energy giver.”

“Just as her paintings are super bright and colorful, her house is like that, her outfits are like that,” Heidi Moreno said. “When you talk to her, you’re happy when you’re with her. She’s just really fun to be around and funny all the time.”

The Moreno sisters share a bond like no other. They have repeatedly worked together as illustrators and have been each other’s motivation to illustrate daily.

“We feed off of each other’s energy since we are both ambitious,” Moreno said.

Their most recent project is “Inktober,” a 31-day challenge where other artists and illustrators can join in on the fun of completing the daily prompts. The Moreno sisters incorporated their Mexican culture in the challenge by including prompts like Calavera, or human skull and Chamuco, a devil or evil person and Alebrije, which is Mexican folk art of fantastical creatures to keep in touch with their roots.

In the future, Moreno aspires to rent out a studio alongside her sister where she can continue to create art.

“One day it would be nice if we have this place we can go to and work together,” Moreno said. “Maybe have a shared space where my cousin can come over. He does artwork too, more like street art. But we could all work together and kind of have an art community. I think that’s important.”

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