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Latin American Ilustracion: Ronny Barrrera's "Boy"

By David Schonauer   Wednesday September 16, 2015




Ronny Barrera  is a multi-time Latin American Ilustracion winner.

Barrera’s illustration “Lapses in F Minor,” created during a time of what he calls “despair and downward moments” in his life as he dealt with troubling family news, was named a winner of the LAI 1 competition.

His illustration “Porfirio (The Tourist),” another piece drawn from his own experiences, was selected for LAI 2.

His latest winning work, chosen by the judges of the Latin American Ilustracion 3  contest, was also inspired by his family. Called simply “Boy,” it is a portrait of his nephew.

Barrera, who was born and raised in Lima, Peru, moved to the East Coast of the United States in 1996. He is now a freelance illustrator based in New York City. In 2014, he was working on a series of portraits of famous people — soccer players Lionel Messi and Andrea Pirlo and writers Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Charles Bukowski, among others — when he thought about creating a portrait of his nephew.

“I started the portrait just to keep on with the drawing flow I had at that moment,” he says. “It was a simple pencil drawing on paper that I ended up scanning and opening in Photoshop just to try out some ideas I had at the time. I thought that adding bold colors would contrast with the softness of the pencil and make the image more interesting.”

                      “Porfirio (The Tourist),”

                        “Lapses in F Minor"

The color has another purpose, as well: “My nephew is my older sister's son, but his dad is from the United States, so he has multi-cultural heritage,” says Barrera. “I wanted to express that in the image. I wanted to use the colors to add that Peruvian side in the portrait. I started playing first with colors in the background, but things didn't seem right. After some frustration, I tried other angles for the colors and ended adding the Chullo hat. It fit the image I had in my mind better, plus I liked the fact that it frames his face in the center of the image, while contrasting well with the dark of the background and his flesh.”

Recently, Barrera has been working more and more with oil paints. “I’m trying to master the brush as much as I can just to keep developing artistically. I'm painting portraits of not-famous people, working on ideas I have, always with a surreal twist,” he says.

Creating images, Barrera told DFLA previously, has been a comfort through his journey from Peru to New Jersey and then the New York City borough of Queens.

“I started teaching myself how to draw by copying the things I liked, including cartoons on TV,” he says. “I never took art classes until 2009, when a friend suggested it. I liked the idea, even though art has never been a thing to make money with, in my mind. I create art because I enjoy it. I registered at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan to get a degree in illustration. I've learned a lot of new ways to use technology. I'm still learning, because I think that you never stop learning until you stop living.”  

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Dispatches from Latin America