DT: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And some highlights in your career? Please name drop (laughs).
CA: I was born in New York but raised in Puerto Rico. I loved art. In high school, my very stylish art teacher suggested I become a fashion designer. I knew nothing about it.
I attended Parsons School of Design in NYC and realized it was drawing that I loved the most. At one point, I met my idol fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, and he became my mentor. He strongly suggested that I move to New York City full-time and pursue a career as an illustrator, and I did.
I was working as a graphic designer when my portfolio landed at Wieden and Kennedy, and they awarded me with the 1996 World Series Coca Cola campaign. Soon after the Illustration Division of Art Department began to represent me. And twenty years later, I’m still with them.
DT: Why is it important to have diversity in the beauty and fashion industries?
CA: Fashion has always been about the NEW, what’s next and what’s exciting. To me, that’s the definition of diversity.
DT: Have you seen shifts in the last decade?
CA: I think we’ve moved rapidly into a more diverse view of the world since the late ’60s. I think Motown made a massive contribution to how this nation viewed black America, such as Diana Ross and the Supremes. I mean, they opened the doors, and those doors became wider and wider. Even though I don’t believe in the word “minority,” since we are all Americans, they elevated a sector of the population pretty high.
What has happened in the past ten years has been the democratization of power, social media has been responsible for this. The constant flux of ideas and images has changed the way we think and do things. That is also a broader form of diversity.
DT: In a perfect world, what would be an ideal evolution in the industries of beauty and fashion?
CA: We are evolving in both industries. Everyone who has an idea, product, or fashion brand they want to start they can do so via social media. You can reach a small or broader audience; it’s up to you. You couldn’t do that twenty years ago; you needed Oprah! (laugh)
DT: Do you realize that your presence in the industry, inspires many people around the world?
CA: What I do is my joy, if I inspire people then I’m doing my job well. I also get inspired by other artists as well.
Inspiration to me is to give energy, a sense of freedom, and possibilities. Sometime you’ll hear me say that some people don’t know how to give. I don’t mean money or material possessions but the gift of inspiring, lifting someone showing them a new way of seeing. That’s the true meaning of giving.
DT: What advice would you give your younger self?
CA: Learning is essential, but the experience is paramount. Diplomas get you a certain amount of information, but the world out there gives you the real training.
Don’t think you earned a position because you graduated from x and y school with a degree, you still have to earn it! Be humble, grateful, and become a sponge.
DT: Are you living your purpose?
CA: I hope so!
DT: Finish this sentence, “I am grateful for…”
CA: “…the opportunities given to me”.
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