My name is Mya Pagán, I’m a visual chronicler based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’ve always loved drawing since I was little but it was in 2013, when I sold my first illustration, that I considered seeing illustration as a possible career. At that time, I had a full time office job and illustration was just a part time thing.
I would draw everyday and publish my work on Instagram just for fun. This platform has become sort of a school for me as it allows me to interact with other illustrators and ask them about materials or techniques. I’ve learned almost everything regarding illustration by talking with other professional artists and also practicing everyday and just discovering on my own.
One day a big agency contacted me through Instagram and that’s how I got my first official illustration job. Having that opportunity gave me confidence in my work and a push to take a risk and try to survive as a full time illustrator. At that time, I only did black and white illustrations because I was self-conscious on how I used colors although I did not admit it at the time. Did I mention I am self-taught? Well, I am!
The first year I started as a full time illustrator, I joined Skillshare which was pretty useful for things like art history, character development, illustrating for children’s books, etc. I entered the watercolor world because a good friend of mine gave me my first Winsor & Newton watercolors as a gift. I fell in love with watercolors and their transparency and how fluid they are! So from that moment on, ink (Micron) and watercolor are my main mediums although I also use gouache.
My work is inspired by my experience as a woman in today’s society and women’s experiences in general; specifically surrounding feminism, politics and social subjects. I use illustration as a way to communicate how I feel and also to share information regarding what is happening in my country or in the world. I believe illustrations can be very powerful because they communicate in a visual way; it’s a universal language that can be understood by almost everyone.
My creative process goes something like this: I sit down, I read the news. I reflect on how I feel and what do I want to communicate. Other times, I ask myself what things are we taught as women that shouldn’t be said or how should we behave. And think of an image that might connect with someone and make them remember that it’s ok to be yourself and that we’re not alone.
Sometimes I sketch with a pencil and use a light-board (HUION) to trace it (first watercolor then the ink lines), but lately, I (finally) stopped pressing too much with the pencil and I am able to sketch lightly with pencil and watercolor in that same paper without ruining it. Currently, I am using two brands of watercolor, Winsor & Newton and Sennelier. In my opinion, they are the best! For gouache I am using Holbein’s Acryla Gouache; their pigment is amazing and you can water it down and blend it with watercolor.
Here in Puerto Rico, I’m unable to find some of the brands I like so I depend on online shopping or buying materials when I travel. During my last visit to New York I bought an Escoda watercolor brush and I love it, it retains liquid well and they’re firm so you can trace lines smoothly. I would say it is my favorite along with Plantec’s natural sable brush (I bought this one in Argentina).
Although I don’t always use the light-board (HUION) for my personal work, I do use it for work commissions; it really helps with time management and also helps with saving paper. Talking about paper I need to add that the best paper in the world is Arches 100% cotton paper, pricy but so worth it. I also tried the new Winsor and Newton 100% cotton paper and it is good as well but I am just attached to Arches. Definitely recommended!
I think the most important thing is to not compare yourself to other artists. Your pace is ok and remember there is always space for all types of arts and artists in this world.Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!