Andrea Cordero Ramírez is a multimedia artist and fashion designer from Puerto Rico. She studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Puerto Rico is a big part of her identity, and she has struggled with being away from her family and inspirations. She hasn’t let that deter her and in fact, she has incorporated it into her work. I loved learning more about her art, her background, and what inspires her.
Tell me a little bit about yourself ---- where you’re from, where you grew up?
I grew up in Puerto Rico, I’m 27, I’m obsessed with cats, anime, fashion, photography, and illustration. My father is a fashion photographer and I was always surrounded by that world. My work has been inspired by my upbringing, Puerto Rico, and my culture.
Tell me about your work ---- what do you do? What does your process look like?
I’m still looking for an aesthetic but one thing I love to do is research. Before designing I’m on Pinterest and Google finding and learning new things which is when I’m able to create a concept. I like the feeling of learning and being excited. It makes me think in different ways and other possibilities. I like where it leads me ---- how I start from somewhere, and it leads me somewhere completely different from when I started expanding what I know.
I see you studied fashion design in college. What drew you to that?
I knew I wanted to study something in the arts. In the beginning, I planned to study theater, but I applied to a college in Puerto Rico and didn’t get in. I had the chance to design the costumes for a play in high school, and I loved the process ---- designing and creating, choosing the fabric. That was always on my mind. When I applied to SCAD I decided to do fashion as it was artistic and I felt that I could learn things along the way.
I see you play around with mediums, what is your favorite thing to create other than your fashion pieces?
I love to create things with my hands. I learned how to crochet and felt. They are the mediums I like the most. Now that I have more time I’m going to work on those. I also love drawing with watercolors, I love how messy it gets. I want my things to look crafty. I was told that my things look crafty (not as a compliment), but I liked it. That’s what I want my aesthetic to be.
Are there any color palettes that you go for or do you like experimenting?
I love playing with color, I love going bold. The brighter the better. Every time I look for inspiration I go for colorful things. I'm inspired by pop art. It’s in your face. I like the irony of making fun of the media and pop culture. The bright colors make it so friendly and likable. That’s how I want my art to be.
What has been your favorite project so far?
My senior collection made me so excited. It’s your personal concept, your baby, finally something you’re proud to work on. However, after the pandemic hit and things changed I wasn’t motivated by it anymore so I completely re-did my collection. I created something that I wanted instead of something that I thought my professor wanted and used Puerto Rico as inspiration. Another project I loved working on was my first ever project at SCAD. It was my first time draping fabric and creating, but it turned out the way I wanted and looked great. It was a simple inspired 1960s dress with a dash of punk. It’s the most simple thing I’ve done but seeing it all come together was so satisfying.
Can you tell me about the inspiration Puerto Rico had on your collection and on you as a person?
When I started looking for a concept I knew I wanted it to be related to Puerto Rico in some way. I thought maybe making something about my family and my friends, or something to do with memories of my childhood. I had been thinking about this collection way before I became a senior. But then Hurricane Maria and Irma happened. I already knew that I felt disconnected. Being Puerto Rican and living here I didn’t live through that event like my family did. Only through phone calls with my sister and my mom almost every day to see how they were doing. It broke my heart.
Then another event happened “The Telegramgate” (also known as Chatgate, or RickyLeaks). It was a political scandal involving Ricardo Rosselló, then Governor of Puerto Rico. This began on July 8, 2019, with the leak of hundreds of pages of a group chat on the messaging application Telegram between Rosselló and members of his cabinet. People protested, and I wanted to be there so much, but I couldn’t. These events made me start really thinking about the history of Puerto Rico. Because, yes, they teach us the history in school, but do they really? So I started doing my own research with people that protested for the independence of Puerto Rico. Like Pedro Albizu Campos, Lolita Lebrón, even famous artists and poets like Julia de Burgos. From there, I found out more and more about the injustices to the island and how we are treated as humans. I got angry, like really angry, but I’m not good with words. So I decided to create something that represents Puerto Rico and our resilience. The first thing that comes into my mind when I think of colorful and happy Puerto Rico is the vejigante. The vejigante is a famous character/creature in Puerto Rico that is very common in festivals. I never thought about it because I grew up always seeing them. But what are they and where do they come from? So this was the start of my concept for my collection. The vejigante is a folkloric figure whose origins trace back to Spain. In Puerto Rico, it became influenced by all the cultures, like those of African and native Taíno. The Africans added drum-heavy music of bomba y plena, and the Taíno contributed the native elements to the most important part of the vejigante costume ---- the mask. Making it such a unique cultural expression especially to Puerto Rico. It embodies everything that I want to tell. Colorful, happy, strong, beautiful, resilient, unique, inspiring. That's how the vejigante inspired this collection. I called it “Roots.” This collection really made me think about what I want to do and express myself with my art and work.
Bonus fun question: If you could be any animal what would it be?
I love cats, I would be a cat. I wish I could switch lives with my cat for a day. I want to sleep the way she sleeps, I want to jump the way she jumps. When I see her climbing I just think, "I want to do that."
Andrea and I had a lovely conversation and realized our mutual love of cats and being crafty. It was truly a pleasure to hear her story and see her designs. I can't wait to see what she creates next!
If you want to see any more of Andrea's art, follow her on Instagram.