This week’s Feature Friday is Cinthia of Art by CYNNO. We are obsessed with her work and can’t wait to share it with you guys! The funny part about it all is that she started her art career by accident. One day her circumstances changed and as a result she made her first pieces of “tiny art,” or mini portraits. Often times it is when we least expect it, or when we are forced to make a change, that we maximize our potential. Cinthia was definitely able to make the best out of her situation and ended up making a whole new career out of something she loves doing. Just imagine painting happy people all day… she has it made! Check out her interview below to learn more about Cinthia’s journey and see her work. She was also kind enough to give our readers a little perk: A DISCOUNT!! You don’t want to miss this chance.
: Tell us about yourself.
: Not too sure what to say! I am 26 years old, I was born in Cuba and moved to Miami with my mother and step-father when I was 10. I’ve been drawing and creating for as long as I can recall. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and worked as the assistant designer and textile designer for a high-end womenswear line before pursuing my career as an artist. I love Star Wars, food, my dogs, and have a slight Instagram addiction. That about sums me up.
: What made you decide to create wood portraits?
: It was a total accident! After my job in fashion came to a screeching halt, I roughed it out and freelanced for a few months while I figured out my next career move. Christmas came around and I was a bit too broke to get Christmas presents for my best friends, so, I painted little portraits for 4 of my friends (one of which was a family portrait as she was about to have a baby) on little wooden plaques I had left over from a previous project. The minute they shared photos of their gifts on Instagram and Facebook, the requests started coming in. It seemed like every time I finished one portrait, that same piece would generate three more, and so on, from that person’s friends. Eventually, I was getting emails from complete strangers and had to finally open up an Etsy store to keep better track of my orders, and the photos of my portraits pretty much invaded all my social media accounts. By the week of Mother’s Day, I had to pull all-nighters and crank out 8 portraits a day to get everything out in time. I can’t even explain how surprised and grateful I am that all of this has happened from my silly little Christmas presents.
: Describe the process behind making your wood portraits.
: It varies for each one, but, basically, once someone chooses a size and shape they like from my Etsy store, they are prompted to send me an email with any photos and instructions they want to use for their custom piece. Some send me a photo they want me to interpret almost literally, like a family or couple portrait, while others send me tons of individual photos of each member, describe their personalities, hobbies or favorite items of clothing they would like included, etc. I have a lot of fun reading these, and, the more information I am given, the more personal and special the final product is. We usually chat back and forth a bit, and, I create an initial sketch for their approval. Once it’s approved, I paint the piece using acrylic paint, seal it, take a photo of it, pack it, and ship it! Sometimes I write overly elaborate thank-you notes, and, usually, I get really fun emails back about what happened when they received their piece, or gave it to the person it was intended for, or how it was displayed in people’s homes.
: Wood portraits aren’t the only things you create. What are some of the other projects you’re working on?
: I do freelance commercial art, usually murals for restaurants, bars, etc. Most of these are focused on hand-lettering and vintage sign painting or chalk art, which I do alongside my super talented friend Robert Almeida. They can be found at wynwoodsignpainting.com. I also work on commissioned artwork and murals for a commercial interior design studio, and do a bit of freelance textile design and technical design when fashion duty calls. Sometimes I sleep and stuff.
: Do you have a favorite piece or something you just had to keep for yourself?
: My first ever wood paintings, which are a collection of different portraits of girls with antlers or animal ears.
: Did you study art and take courses or were you self-taught?
: I guess you could say I’m mostly self-taught. My dad is a ridiculously talented artist and even though I didn’t grow up with him (he’s lived in Mexico since I was 4), he visited often and made sure I was exposed to art from an early age. As a kid, I drew constantly and sent him my drawings whenever I could, and that carried on through my teenage and adult years. I didn’t take my first art class until junior year in high school.
: What are you most grateful for?
: Everything! I have the best family, boyfriend, and friends ever. I can’t believe how many people pushed me and believed in me way before I did. It took a lot of convincing from a lot of people for me to actually accept that I had something awesome going and had to take it seriously. Aside from that, the fact that over 100 people have my little pieces hanging in their homes is still astonishing to me. I know I’m not making Renaissance level portraits here, but it makes me extremely happy to know that my little pieces are being given as gifts, ordered for loved ones to commemorate marriages, babies, jobs, and birthdays. I’m ridiculously grateful that I get to wake up every day and do something I love and make people happy at the same time. I could rant forever about this. I get to draw cartoons of happy people for a living… I’m stoked.
: Name the riskiest thing you’ve done in your career.
: Not having a steady 9 to 5 job still scares the living crap out of me sometimes. Actually, all the time.
: What are some of your most used medias?
: Wood, baby! Acrylic paint, pencils, and I go through a LOT of tiny brushes.
: What do you like most about taking custom commissions?
: It sounds weird, but I like getting a tiny window into the happiest parts of a random stranger’s life. When I’m working on a new order, I spend a good couple of hours looking at photos and gathering information about the subjects I’m painting. By the time the portrait is completed, it’s hard not to feel like I know them. I have a lot of repeat customers, which makes it extra fun because I can see a clear little timeline of paintings forming from their orders. I’m happy for whatever accomplishment or special date they are celebrating, and feel extremely humbled that my little portrait was chosen as a way to remember that. I’ve also been able to reconnect with old friends as far back as middle school from being commissioned to draw their new babies and the like. I’m about as socially awkward as it gets and I see this as a really fun way to interact with people.
: Any advice for creatives/in general?
: Just do what you love and don’t stop, eventually someone will notice.
Also don’t forget! If you enter the code CASTLEFOUNDATIONS on the ArtsbyCynno Etsy page, you’ll get $10 off an order. (The perfect Christmas present…!?)