16: Mexican-American Illustrator & Graphic Designer Itzel Islas


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Did you ever feel like you didn’t fit in with the Latinx kids at your school? This week’s guest experienced just that after moving from Tijuana to San Diego for her Sophomore year of high school.

In this episode, I chat with Mexican illustrator and designer Itzel Islas who’s worked with brands like Nickelodeon, GoFundMe, and for her own brand @YAYITZEL.

Itzel never wanted to leave Tijuana, but now she’s so thankful her parents made that decision when she was just in high school. She had a hard time adjusting to American life to the point where even the automatic sprinklers made her mad, but now she can’t imagine her life being any other way. Thankfully, since they moved right over the border to San Diego, she’s always managed to feel very connected to her Mexican heritage and grew up constantly going back and forth across the border.

Nowadays, Itzel is a self-employed graphic designer and illustrator who creates amazing bilingual products inspired by her Mexican culture. Despite originally having doubts about creating products in two languages — and sometimes even in Spanglish — now she recognizes it’s the best decision she could’ve made.

Tune into this episode to hear Itzel and I talk all about her artsy emo days in high school, how her mom helped her discover the field of Graphic Design, and how she decided to create bilingual products to stay true to herself.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Guest Links: Itzel’s online shop, portfolio, Instagram, and TikTok!

Host Links: Follow Fabiola Lara on Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube!

Free Download: Listeners of the podcast can get a free, undated weekly and monthly planner inspired by the show from our website here.

Topics Covered:

  • How Itzel’s family decided to move to the United States to help her and her siblings pursue a college education
  • Finding her high school clique as an Artsy Mexican girl from Tijuana
  • The diversity of people within Latin America
  • How her parents didn’t want her to pursue being a Makeup Artist
  • How her mom lead her to Graphic Design
  • Paying for and attending college, and whether she recommends it now
  • Deciding to go freelance from a full-time, in-house job
  • The stress and anxiety she developed from working in a toxic workplace
  • Balancing work and personal life as a freelance graphic designer
  • How she launched her online shop YAYITZEL
  • Her experience creating bilingual products
  • Going viral and her advice for artists on TikTok
  • Launching a Patreon to create stable income after leaving her in-house gig
  • Her dream commissions under YAYITZEL

19 episoder