When you think of home, memories start to flood your mind. From certain smells and little knick-knacks to dents in the wall you've made from being clumsy, home to you is unlike anything else. It's something so personal that the thought of it alone makes you feel emotions you can't quite explain. This is the exact feeling you get if you're Latinx and look at Veronica Melendez's digital illustrations — it feels like you're home.
The 27-year-old photographer and part-time barista was born and raised in Washington, DC — her mother is from Guatemala and her father is from El Salvador.
Melendez began experimenting with mixing her drawings and photography the last year of graduate school, which motivated her to develop her digital illustrations project. She has only been making digital illustrations since last August, and the theme of her work is an important one: cultura.
"My culture influences almost all of my work. Specifically with these drawings, I don’t think I
could have come up with the idea if it wasn’t for my hybrid culture that is a product of being
raised in such a diverse part of the east coast. Even though my parents are from Central
America, a lot of the products I have drawn and that I find iconic to my upbringing come from
different parts of Latin America," she told Vivala.
She credits 'pop art' and Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup cans as the inspiration behind her style of work.
Melendez makes sure to keep her eyes peeled for things she comes across in her day-to-day life.
From walking around her neighborhood to grocery stores, she makes sure to photograph things on her phone so that she can draw them in the future.
At first glance, her pieces might appear to be simple, but one illustration can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days.
And while her project is an homage to Latinx culture, the response to her work has been universal.
She said, "I’ve had people from all backgrounds, some not even Latinx, that respond to my drawings
almost with nostalgia, or with some emotional reaction." We can see why.
"Even if I erase and draw over their labels, making them my own, they are still pretty much instantly identifiable."
Seriously, there's something to be said about artwork that can transport you back to being a kid again.
Both the art, and the feeling you experience, are beautiful.
Whether it was your mami making coffee in the morning, cleaning the house on the weekend, or being at a family party, Melendez's drawings of everyday items have the power to reignite those moments in your mind.
"These products have become such a part of my Latinx experience of growing up in the United States, that for me and for other people that I’ve met, they are almost iconic."
From 'Abuelita' chocolate...
...to 'Fabuloso' (yes, the purple kind!)...
...to the epic 'Sazón'...
*mmm, we can smell mami's cooking right now*