Xicana Artist Marlene Solorio on Blending Art With Activism and Loving What You Do
Marlene Solorio is an LA-based visual artist with a unique creative style that is hard to ignore. The Xicana artist creates work focused on her Mexican culture and artivism — the intersection of art and activism that uses visual design and mediums to generate community.
Marlene Solorio is a first-generation daughter of immigrants with strong roots from Sonora and Michoacan, Mexico. She is also the first in her family to pursue a degree in graphic design and to go on to a career in the arts.
Even though she does not come from a family of professional creatives, her work is deeply inspired by her culture and upbringing and follows in her mother’s creative footsteps.
“I began pursuing the arts at a very young age out of my father’s martial arts studio,” Solorio told mitú. “I knew from childhood that it was something I was passionate about, so I got very involved in art activities throughout my educational career,” she added. “In high school, I decided to pursue a professional career that led me to Graphic Design.”
Marlene Solorio’s passion has always combined her love for music and creativity
Initially, Marlene Solorio decided to pursue design so that she could create music posters and album covers.
She went on to receive a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts (BFA), and after several freelance jobs and internships, she went on to a full-time career creating artwork in the industry.
Today, she works in Los Angeles out of her own design studio and creative space. She has also collaborated with various companies and brands all over the world, including Adidas, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, and HBO, just to name a few.
Most of her work consists of digital illustrations, murals, and, just recently, virtual and augmented reality. Similarly, her designs have been used for social campaigns, protests, film posters, murals, merchandise, and more.
She focuses on creating powerful work to shed light on the injustices affecting her community and Mother Earth.
Clearly, Solorio has been very busy
But it wasn’t always such a clear-cut path to creating her artivism work in a meaningful, fulfilling way.
First, she had to learn how to get out of her own way and share her art with the world — a challenge, considering Solorio grew up shy and a self-professed introvert. But her art was her best way to express herself.
“I always wanted my art to be out there, so at first, it was difficult to take that big step and share it with the world. But it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and one that completely changed my life and brought me so much growth,” she said.
Like many artists, Marlene Solorio struggles with common obstacles during the artistic process, such as creative block and uncertainty. But when she has doubts, “figuring it out and just facing the challenge has always been the best solution for me.”
That problem-solving mentality and the ability to keep moving forward are strengths that Solorio credits to her Latino roots.
“Resilience and determination have brought me a long way,” she shared proudly. “My roots and culture guide me. They give me the total confidence to show my work and to create work I love, and have allowed me to bond with my Latino community to create this powerful force together.”
The importance of perseverance and hard work
For Marlene Solorio, the life of an artist is not simple and requires a lot of hard work. But it also requires passion and persistence.
When it feels overwhelming to start a new project or approach a new challenge, she recommends starting with the same first step she takes: mood boards.
“Build your mood boards and print them out for you to see,” she recommends. “Put everything you want to create and your inspirations there for you to look at and make a list of items you want to do.”
Solorio assures that visual inspiration and guidance “will keep you going when you struggle and will remind you what you are working for.” After all, getting started can be a challenge, but it’s important.
“Taking the first step is the most difficult but most rewarding,” she said. “I’d highly recommend taking the first step in going for whatever you want to do,” and never forget the importance of experience. Look for resources online. Take on new challenges to get new experiences and exposure to new skills. Be open to learning from new experiences, colleagues, and your trials and errors,” Solorio urges.
Finally, she recommends always seeking out mentorship from other Latinas and experts in their field who have been in your shoes. Ask for advice. Network. Put your work out there for people to see. And above all, “just go for it,” she said.
Never forget that this is your life, and what matters most is loving what you do.
“Getting up every day to create the life you want to live and to help build and inspire others is success,” she concludes. “Be the Jefa of your life first (and strongly believe in yourself); from there, everything will fall into place.”