SPOTlight 2013 – Ali Castro
This week we shine the SPOTlight on Ali Castro.

VIDEO of CASTRO Illustrates

“My name is Castro and I illustrate.

A dual citizen of Mexico and the US, I am a voyeur of culture and duality. I am also a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a BFA in Studio Art and a specialization in Graphic Design who digs a good story and enjoys riding motorcycles. I love words, lines, and color but at my core I am a storyteller. Storytelling is an important part of the human experience. We tell each other stories every day in the form of short messages, tall tales and visual iconography. When a client approaches me with a project, I think about the type of story they want to tell and how to best convey the meaning hiding between the lines by bridging the gap between traditional printmaking and digital mediums.

Designing for a 21st century world is an exciting challenge and I enjoy using traditional tools in tandem with cutting edge software to produce unique visual solutions. I learned about the mentorship program and was encouraged to participate by my professor Victor Davila, a great local illustrator.

It’s difficult to say what single aspect of the program I found most appealing but I was convinced it was a valuable program to participate in, especially at this stage of my career. My mentor in the program was Nick Sambrato, owner of Mama’s Sauce, VP of Business Development at FICTION, motorcycle rider, and creative community enthusiast. Being a local designer with a love of screen printing, I knew about Mama’s Sauce but my path had never crossed with Nick. At our first meeting we sized each other up. After leaving the meeting I knew I couldn’t have been paired up with a better mentor. Nick Sambrato is a pro at the hustle and grind of traditional printing and emerging digital media. While not an illustrator himself, Nick has a sharp eye for design that helped me focus and think more critically about my overall work. With his help and business savvy, I developed a marketing strategy and a tight brand with a decisive message: CASTRO Illustrates.

For the SPOT Award Showcase, I decided I wanted to demonstrate my ability to illustrate a whole world and create an immersive experience with online components as an introduction to my brand. The Multiverse is a pop-up, paper mural installation designed to envelop the viewer in a whimsical, character filled universe. In terms of style and content, it is reflective of the recent illustration work I have developed for children’s publications and my interest in the publishing industry. Printed and mounted onto gatorboard, the mural extends 4’x8’x4′, completely surrounding an individual standing in front. It consists of three individual levels that extend out from the back into tiers with a series of amusing narratives between character sets. The mural was designed to be accessible to a wide age-range and to encourage an individual to add their own narrative, or “+just add story”, to the illustration. For more about the conceptual process, construction and supporting material check out the case study.

One of my favorite aspects of this program is the relationship I developed with my mentor, the insight I was able to gain from his experience, and the critical eye I was able to rely upon. Through the mentorship program, I gained a deeper appreciation for the local creative community in Orlando and connected with people working in the field. I broadened my understanding of the industry and picked up useful information on running a business from a leading, entrepreneurial voice. Not to mention how happy it made me to connect with people at the SPOT event and have them share their stories. It was inspiring to see people interact and build their own narrative from the installation while attempting to figure out how it was built.

The lovely people behind the Orlando chapter of AIGA and all the mentors who participated deserve all the best for their contribution to helping develop emerging designers with this mentorship program. I hope this program continues to thrive and future students and graduates take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

Ali put together a case study of her work in the Mentorship Program. You can check it out here. You can also follow her on Twitter and connect with her on Linkedin.

By aigaorlando
Published June 20, 2013