Andrea (aka Andreacataro) is creative, bold, and colourful. Her art mixes plants, animals, and letters to honour nature. It is reminiscent of her childhood years in Colombia, incorporating them into her Canadian life. As an artist, Andrea feels that her purpose is to create awareness about the loss of flora and fauna through engaging and eye-catching messages that motivate people. She aspires to brighten the day of anyone who walks by her art and tries to inspire them to question themselves about the murals she paints.
She has worked with Street Art Toronto, Bell Box Murals, Mural Routes, Publicis, Lacoste, the City of Toronto, different BIAs within Toronto, and numerous private clients. You can see her murals all around the GTA.
Interview with Andrea Rodriguez
Can you tell us about how you got into mural art?
I started Mural Art to raise awareness of the fires in the Amazon rainforest. I have always loved muralism, and I paint with gouache using Latin American flora and fauna as an inspiration. I moved into mural art also thanks to my friend Julia Prajza, who encouraged me to take my gouache paintings to a Mural canvas.
Throughout your art practice you have painted on several different surfaces; exterior surfaces (bell boxes, garage doors, etc) and interior (indoor walls, etc). Which surface do you enjoy painting on the most and why? Can you share some tips and tricks you have for difficult surfaces??
My favourite surface is indoor concrete walls. However, I have a sweet spot for Bell Boxes; they are a great way to brighten a neighbourhood.
A tip I usually share with first-time muralists is to be patient with yourself. When a surface is complex, you need to identify the problem and try to solve it to the best of your ability. Also, ask for help if you need it.
Your art uses very bright colour palettes and emphasizes nature through various plant species and animals. What inspires your work?
My inspiration is Latin American Flora and Fauna. I use bright colours because I am from Colombia and grew up surrounded by colourful flowers and vibrant folklore. I love colour; colour makes me smile, and I want to share it with everyone.
Where do you find opportunities for yourself as a mural artist?
I use the Mural Routes newsletter, Steps Public Art, Street Art Toronto, and groups on Facebook and Instagram. I also do outreach emails.
How do the seasons affect your art practice? What does your mural art practice look like in the summer versus the winter?
My practice changes according to the weather. I am busy mural painting and coordinating projects in summer and early fall. I update my website and Instagram in winter and spring, do lettering, paint and work as a Designer.
What are some obstacles or challenges you’ve experienced throughout your mural art practice and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge is that my art is too bright and, therefore, only for some. I accepted that I would only apply to some opportunities in my specific niche. This career requires time and patience.
You also identify as a lettering and graphic design artist. Can you tell us about how lettering art and graphic design has been incorporated into your mural art practice?
Lettering is second nature to me, and I have lettered since eighth grade (I did not know it was a career). Letters have taught me that practice improves.
Graphic Design is what I went to university for, as I wanted a job that mixed illustration, letters, and layout, and this is it. It comes into play with my style, and I have elements of Design in all my murals.
I also utilize my organizational skills from Design in mural art. Being a muralist is more than painting the wall. And half of the work is preparation.
What advice would you give emerging artists that are interested in mural art and/or digital art? What are some must have tools for emerging artists to have in their tool kits?
Ahhh, tools! I had a professor who used to say that your pencil is the most valuable tool you can have as an artist/designer. While I believe that is true, an iPad with pencil and the procreate app go a long way. Take the time to learn the app.
Also, draw and paint as much as you can. Tools do not make the artists. You can have the fanciest tools, but ultimately, your hand needs to loosen, which can only be achieved by doing the work.
I have two favourite brushes, my most beloved ones, and I think everyone has that special brush. So find yours!
Outside of mural art, you have also expanded your practice and become a project coordinator for arts organizations. What advice do you have for artists that may also be looking to expand their practices to arts administration and project management?
True, I coordinate mural projects for multiple arts organizations in Toronto. If you want to expand your practice, start assisting in coordination, then learn how to project manage an art project. I was lucky to have done that in my Master’s Degree, so I had the basis for good project coordination. There are opportunities in art organizations in Toronto to project coordinate. I suggest reaching out and getting your name out there.
What value does your Mural Routes Membership provide for you?
I love the access to the different workshops, opportunities, and connections with muralists around Toronto have proven valuable to me. Also, I am a symposium fan because it gives insights into Canada’s muralist society.
Check out more of Andrea’s work: