Illustrator Alejandro Carrillo, a young Saltillo native and graduate of Digital Art and Animation at Tec de Monterrey, was invited for the second consecutive year to have his work exhibited at The Walt Disney Family Museum.
“I feel very proud, motivated, and inspired by the fact that they have trusted in my work again. I am happy because it means that I’m doing things right,” Carrillo said.
This is the fourth occasion –and the second time in-person– that the Tec graduate is participating with illustrations of his own at the museum dedicated to the history, legacy, and work of Walt Disney, located in the city of San Francisco, California.
Christmas in community and nature
For this year, the museum organized the exhibit “Spirit of the Season: A Community Art Exhibition,” with the concepts of community and nature as the main themes and inspiration for the different works.
After receiving the invitation to participate, Alex prepared two illustrations that were then evaluated and selected by a jury in charge of deciding whether or not they were suitable to be included in the exhibit.
Both illustrations are digital and were printed for the exhibit.
The first of his works, as with last year, consists of a Christmas village, called “Magic Holiday Environment.”
“This time it was a much bigger and much, much better Christmas village. My progress is very noticeable. I wanted to encompass different festivities around the world, the idea of community, and that regardless of the celebration, the important thing is to be united, with respect, together in the same place,” he said.
The second work by the artist from Saltillo, called “Nature, Happiness, and Holidays,” consists of a collage of characters from different cultures with their typical elements, such as flowers, piñatas, lights, and other decorative elements of various festivities.
“Here, it was very much like embracing diversity and everything that encompassed Christmas celebrations,” added the Mexican illustrator.
The Tec graduate said that his challenge this year was to create works that were superior in design and style to those from the previous year, such as the perspective of the buildings and more detailed characters and elements.
Finding inspiration in Christmas and family
Alex does not hesitate to say that Christmas is his favorite celebration of the year, when he can be 100% dedicated to making precious moments with his loved ones.
“I’ve worked almost every day these last few years, and I haven’t had time to be with my family, so Christmas is just what this exhibition encompasses: community and being able to appreciate and be grateful that we are all together,” he said.
The young illustrator said that he included aspects of his family in his works in both the previous exhibition as well as in this year’s one.
“And this time, I incorporated a Christmas tree in the collage, decorated in blue because that’s the color my family uses every year. So, I find inspiration in my family and in my home. I really like to put those kinds of details in,” he added.
The digital artist also shared that there are other details alluding to his family, even including some “easter eggs,” like the husky dog in his works exhibited in “Spirit of the Season.”
“I put it in because my little cousin had just been given a husky. He was very happy and always wanted me to draw it for him. So, I put it in one of my illustrations. This year, I said, ‘Why not? It’s going in again,’” Alex said.
“Community was the main theme, in addition to nature as the main symbol of this exhibit.”
His time at the Walt Disney Family Museum
The Tec graduate said that he has been inspired by Disney to become an artist since he was very young. He started watching movies and that’s how he knew he wanted to develop his art to inspire people, just like the creator of Mickey Mouse did.
So it was that in 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that Alex found out the museum had an open call to invite visual artists to participate in a virtual exhibition, and he didn’t hesitate to participate.
“I saw the call for the 55th anniversary of the song ‘It’s a Small World,’ which talks about multiculturalism, so I thought it would be cool to have 55 characters from different cultures.
“What’s more, I saw in the call for entries that there were people who had already been invited to participate, and they were super famous and talented illustration artists who had worked on Disney movies,” he added.
On that occasion, Alex’s illustration, called “Unity,” was chosen as the main work of the exhibition and given pride of place with a larger format.
He noted that this illustration, which he considers his most famous work, opened the door to new invitations.
“Then I had an invitation to a virtual exhibition from April to November 2021 on Earth Day, but even though it was an invitation, there was a jury that checks that the works are good, meet the quality standard, and are what they’re looking for,” he said.
Alex exhibited two illustrations that time, one main one and an additional one, which were then printed to be exhibited in person at the museum. He was then invited to two years of “Spirit of the Season,” where he has exhibited two works each year.
What is “Spirit of the Season”?
This is the second year that “Spirit of the Season: A Community Art Exhibition” is being held, featuring a selection of paintings, drawings, photographs, 3D objects, digital illustrations, and short films created by artists.
The works are inspired by the Christmas festivities celebrated by different cultures around the world, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Epiphany, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, Toji, and New Year’s Day.
“I received an invitation in August 2022 and thought, ‘I’m going to go out on a limb here.’ I was able to draw inspiration from some very cool works. It was summer, and I was watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music.
“Community was the main theme, with nature as the main symbol of this exhibition, such as the Christmas pine tree, which is iconic, and mistletoe on Christmas Eve or roses on New Year’s Eve,” explained the visual artist.
“I was able to draw inspiration from some very cool works. It was summertime, and I was watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music.”
This year, the exhibition has 81 works, of which 36 are exhibited in person, including the two illustrations by the Tec graduate.
Artists from Canada, the United States, Dubai, and Germany are participating in Spirit of the Season, with Carrillo the only Mexican and Latin American artist.
The museum also currently has works in its exhibition by Christopher Miller, who is the grandson of Walt Disney, and with whom Carrillo shares the space to exhibit his pieces.
The museum has been hosting the exhibition since November 17 and will remain open until March 20, 2023.
Closing out a great 2022 and looking forward to a better 2023
For Alex, 2022 was a year of growth. As an illustrator, he has had international collaborations, he published the book “Faces,” which has been in the top of the bestsellers list on Amazon, and he created the short film “Express,” which won awards at international festivals.
The Mexican illustrator collaborated this year with Forbes Life LATAM, as well as with Crayola to promote young artist talent, where he was one of the judges for the Fanart Drawing Contest.
He has collaborated with foundations such as PAME Mexico, where he gave an online masterclass on drawing and character creation. Alex also participated with several artists in auctions to benefit the Red Cross of Saltillo.
In addition, he has been presenting a solo exhibit called “IMAGINATOPIA” since October 15 at the García Carrillo Theater Cultural Center in Saltillo, where he presents significant illustrations from his professional career in the art world.
As the year comes to a close, the visual artist is focusing on what’s next for 2023, with the dream of inspiring more people through his work.
“2023 is looking good. There are important collaborations, my second coloring book, my new short film ‘Spark of Color’, and my second solo exhibit in Durango. These are projects that I’m very excited about,” Alex said.
“In the future, I would like to be able to take my art to other museums. My great personal dreams I would love to make come true one day include participating in or making a Disney film and presenting my work at MoMA,” Carrillo concluded.