NMCO’s newest graphic designer, Dana Apodaca, and local artist Katrina Chandler have been creating art and collaborating ideas for years. Both Las Cruces natives, their journey in artistic expression has become an experimentation with digital collage, screen printing and illustration.

And on April 20, Apodaca and Chandler are teaming up for a collection of eclectic pieces that emit a spunky, female forward aura that encompasses collage and illustrative styles. 

NMCO recently spoke with Apodaca and Chandler to meet the ladies behind the showcase!

How long have you lived in Las Cruces?
D: My whole life!
K: Since the 3rd grade—so, 23 years!

What style of art do you create?

D: I’m primarily a graphic designer, but when I do create art I really like to screen print. A lot of the stuff I do ends up being linework for some reason… but sometimes I just like to go for it and create unique monoprints.

K: Well, I started as a graphic designer which opened me up to a lot of different and unique ideas. From there I started exploring hand lettering, simple illustration, and digital collage.

What first interested you in this style? How long have you been creating?

D: I took a printmaking class about 3 or 4 semesters ago. My teacher really emphasized process and experimentation so I got to try a lot of things and saw what I liked and what I didn’t like. I took a few more printmaking classes but I focused on screen printing and ended up enjoying it a lot.

K: I have always been interested in art and collage, and never thought I was someone who could pull that kind of stuff off or even create art in general. That started to change when I went back to school for my bachelors in art in 2014 and I realized that there are a lot of things I can do if I stay focused and try. So I started really buckling down and studying graphic design, hand lettering, illustration, and digital collage. From there I just began to create. My biggest struggle was accepting that it wasn’t going to be perfect, but that I needed to just work and finish projects anyway. That was the only way I was going to get better. 

And you’re doing a joint show! What made you want to collaborate together?

D: I can’t speak for Katrina, but I know I really enjoy everything she creates! We are both designers and we have different styles that I think really compliment each other. We often share inspiration with each other and discuss design choices, but our end products are unique to each of us.

K: Ummmm… I love Dana and think she is fantastic. We have known each other a few years now and I become more and more impressed with her the longer I know her. I feel like she helps me to elevate my design and we compliment each other well.

What inspires your work? How are you inspired specifically by New Mexico?

D: For this artwork I was really inspired by simple line tattoos and tattoos of hands. I’m a Pinterest junkie and I filled up a huge board with the inspiration of stick & poke tattoos and hand drawings. I’m inspired by New Mexico in lots of ways. Being an art major, I get to see all of the local artists and the art they create. And also, even though I’m not a landscape artist or anything, New Mexico’s nature is absolutely an inspiration for me. The mountains, the plants, the animals, the skies… they are all a daily source of my creativity.

K: For this particular set of work I was inspired by personal experience and just need a way to express myself. I know I am inspired by New Mexico. I am extremely drawn to bright colors, gradients, beautiful meshes of design and tone. I see this every day in New Mexico.

What does your creative process look like?

D: I think inspiration and creativity are not things that you can force. A truly good idea is rarely the product of someone sitting at their desk and being like, “Ok! I’m gonna think really hard and a good idea is bound to happen!” I usually write down things either in my sketchbook or in my phone—just little things that I think might go somewhere. And if an idea keeps snowballing in my head or if I keep thinking about it and wanting to develop it, that’s when I know I have something. After that, Pinterest. Like I said, I’m an avid fan! I use it for research and to make mood boards for my projects. Then I start sketching, trying not to edit myself so that I can revisit ideas even if they weren’t so good the first time around. I scan my sketches into the computer, and take a good amount of time refining them and also trying new things. From there, I either finalize it or begin to prepare the artwork for screen printing.

K: I feel like I have a few different creative processes for different things I do. I keep a lot of running notes, mostly in my phone. Things that pop in my head that I can look at later. I do a lot of brainstorming and word mapping in my sketchbook to help generate unique ideas. From there I make thumbnail sketches without editing myself, cause you just don’t know what is going to work. From there I will either create a final drawn composition or scan into my computer and refine. I think a really important part of the process is to create something every day. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you just have to make it a habit to produce something and keep those creative juices flowing, as well as, improving your skills day by day.

How long does it typically take for you to complete a piece?

D: When it comes to just creating the design, it varies. If I have a lot of momentum, it can sometimes only take me a few hours. If I am having a lot of trouble and it’s just not coming out how wanted it, maybe between 6-10 hours. But the actual process of screen printing?! That takes forever to set up, but once you are actually printing it is super fast. I’d say setup (including preparing the file, printing, cutting paper, prepping and exposing screens, etc.) takes me about 12 to 24 hours. Once set up, printing can be fast, I can literally have 25 prints done in a few minutes.

K: Oh man. That is tricky. If I am doing a collage and I’m just really vibing on something, I can get it done in a few hours. It really just depends on how pieces are coming together. Sometimes I create a composition and I hate it and just start fresh. If I am sketching and drawing, that again can take a few hours. For design work through, that process takes a bit longer for me to work through.

What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve created?

D: My favorites are the series of handprints I made. I like that they are small and simple. They are all different but feel like they are part of the same family.

K: My favorite right now are the digital collage pieces portraying women responding to their male counterpart. They mean a lot to me and say a lot for me. I am really into the colors as well and I just generally love anything involving collage.

What are you most looking forward to at your upcoming show?

D: I really like to see when people read what the artwork says, and their reaction. Sometimes I see a little giggle or a small nod of agreement. LOL.

K: Meeting people and getting to share a little piece of myself with others.

The name of your show is rather intriguing. What does it mean and what inspired the name?

D: I think both mine and Katrina’s artwork have a similar theme of love, with a twist. Personally, I was pretty inspired by the retro illustrations Katrina used in her collages. I wanted to think of something that maybe one of those women would say. I could kind of see one of them with a comic book-style word bubble saying, “That’s no way to treat a lady!”

K: Dana is great at coming up with these things and that is what she did [with the title of this show.] I loved it because I felt like one of the women in the collage pieces would for sure be saying that.

What can local New Mexicans learn from supporting artists in and around their community?

D: Well, I think Katrina and I are a great example of what local New Mexicans can learn. If you support local artists around you, you can really make great lasting friends and connections. You have someone to collaborate with, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to inspire you when you’re in a rut. I don’t think I would have done an art show unless I did it with Katrina. I think things like this can not only boost you and get you to places you want to go, but your friends and fellow artists as well.

K: Boom. Dana said it right there. Making connections in your community is huge. I love art for that reason. Connecting on another level, meeting people who have felt the way you’ve felt, and better yet, supporting each other and inspiring each other.

Where can locals find your work if they’re interested?

D: I’m currently working on a website, actually, where people can purchase my prints as well as stickers, and soon, T-shirts. The website is LovesickDesigns.com

K: Good question. Send me a direct message on Instagram!