Local Latino/a Artist

of the Month

- Brayan Montes -

Brayan Montes is an undocumented queer creative based in Denver, Colorado. He was brought over from Chihuahua, Mexico at the age of three and has lived in Denver his whole life. During his time at Colorado State University, he saw a need for designers and illustrators of color in the design and creative world. Brayan primarily specializes in brand identity and illustration, which includes designing logos, merch, and apparel, but he considers himself a true Swiss army knife of design. He currently operates YAMZ: World of Color, a small values-based design boutique that develops brand design and visually intriguing illustration work. Brayan is very passionate about working with non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs of color who are working to build their own brand and business.

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Yamz: World of Color recently partnered with another undocushop, Adelitas Apparel, to collaborate on new items including two shirts and multiple stickers. 100% of the proceeds for this shirt go back to the Adelitas DACA fund where those looking to get help with their DACA application can apply for funding.

How do you incorporate your heritage, identity, &/or culture into your work & why?

It's interesting because I have two sides to who I am as an artist. On one side there is this branding world that brings design and marketing solutions to non-profits and small entrepreneurs of color. Being a Latino is an honor and it is even more impactful when you can help other Latino businesses reach their goals and get one step closer to their dreams. Being a POC in an extremely white field is empowering. (89% of graphic designers are white according to the recent AIGA poll of the industry.) It means we can bring more POC into the world of design in order to better tell their story. It also helps to bring more POC into leadership roles in larger design agencies.

Then there's this illustration and lettering side where I get to tell the story of immigration and being undocumented. My personal illustration work is meant to show the untold battles and daily struggles of being undocumented. In the undocumented community, we are told to not reveal our status. We are always being forced into the shadows, which leads to a gap in storytelling. I want to make people aware of what we go through because it humanizes and allows the conversation to be people-centered, not money and productivity-centered. We need to keep putting immigrant stories at the forefront so we don't forget what we are fighting for and what we are fighting towards.

The last part of this conversation is setting an example for future artists and entrepreneurs. If me, Brayan, this undocumented POC can do it, so can they. We, the immigrant community, are raised to think that the only way to make a solid buck is engineering and tech jobs. We think that going against this is going against the many sacrifices our parents have made in coming to this country. I would say that pursuing your dreams is the best way you can honor the intentions and well wishes of your family.

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Branding and illustration for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition 2020 Member Assembly. 

Tell us a bit about being a Latino artist or the Latino artist community.

Being a Latino artist in the Latino community is very new to me.  For a lot of different reasons I never considered myself an artist. I've only recently started to call myself an artist. That, in itself, has opened the doors for me in terms of getting to know many different Latino artists in different mediums. Once I started to define myself as an artist and a business person, more and more artists started to follow me and recognize who I was. It's like when you get a new car and now you only see that car on the road.

 

Being Latino I have been able to make many new connections with undocumented artists and other small shops. It has been one of the best experiences of my life. I get to see other people like me trying to make their art their livelihood. The amount of community I have made this past year is overwhelming. We lift each other up and we shout each other out because we know how hard it is to make it. In a lot of cultures and heritages, art is a community; Music is community. We know that when we are a community, we can build, solve, and uplift. 

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Branding and illustration for the 2021 Latinas Lead Power Summit.

A phrase that describes the feeling immigrants have when the government promises us anything. (Sticker for sale.)

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Latino Communtiy foundation 2019 brand refresh.

Green Lady Gardens is all about celebrating the joy of color. Address the use of color in your work. For example: Why do you make your work colorful? What are you trying to communicate?

I love this question because I like to say that color is my best friend. I mean, it's in the name YAMZ: World of Color. Since my work tends to be very much focused on marginalized identities, color drives our storytelling and artwork. Color is the vibrancy, tenacity, and determination of all people of color. Being able to communicate that for businesses and organizations is the lifeblood of YAMZ. We like color because it tells the story of our people and who we are.

Is there a connection between your culture/heritage/identity and your use of color?

As a values-based agency and artist, I really like to lead with being undocumented, queer, and Latinx because I want people to know who I am right away. Pushing my story to drive my work brings the right people towards me and the wrong people away. It brings light and empowers those of the same identities to pursue their dream to the best of their abilities. Being loud and proud about who we are is the reason I use so many bold and saturated colors. It communicates, "I am here, I am proud and I am not going anywhere."

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To purchase prints and stickers and to see more of Brayan's work, visit:

Brayanmontes.com

All images are the property of Brayan Montes.

Some content may have been edited for clarity.