photo: Priscilla Blossom

We had the chance to speak with up-and-coming Cuban comic artist Vanesa R. Del Rey. The laid-back and endlessly talented Del Rey is no stranger to the convention circuit, with 10 appearances under her belt since she began freelancing. Del Rey is quickly gaining notoriety for her work on the popular Hit comics (Boom! Studios), as well as her work with Marvel (Scarlet Witch #1;Once Upon a Time: Out of the Past), Dark Horse (Creepy Comics #16 and Eerie), and DC (Constantine: The Hellblazer #3 & #4). During our chat, we got to talking about growing up in Cuba, her major influences, and her steady climb toward comics success as one of the few Latina artists currently out there. 

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1

On how she first got into art

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A photo posted by Vanesa R. Del Rey (@vrdelrey) on

Born in Havana, Cuba, art found its way into Del Rey’s life almost immediately. Her grandmother, Marta Rodriguez, was an artist, and she was the first to teach Del Rey to draw and paint from a young age. “Since I was six years old, she would hang my paintings on the wall,” she says of her endlessly supportive abuela.

At age 12, Del Rey’s grandfather began paying for a private instructor for her. “He taught me technique, perspective, and figure drawing. He had me draw from Playboy magazines,” she adds with a laugh.

2

On growing up in Cuba

This beau drops tomorrow! ????????#scarletwitch No.1 #marvelcomics ????colors by @whoajordie

A photo posted by Vanesa R. Del Rey (@vrdelrey) on

While Del Rey has enjoyed comics all her life, obtaining them while in Cuba was never easy. “In Cuba, we don’t really have comics. We don’t have DC or Marvel or anything like that,” she says, adding that any comics she ever got were only thanks to family living in the States sending them back to her.

“I went to an arts high school. I was going to be a fine artist, but they were too focused in conceptual art and I wasn’t. I was more into figurative painting, and that wasn’t really encouraged or developed there. They just didn’t want you to do that, so I didn’t have a lot of exposure to [the comics] field over there,” Del Rey says.

3

On impression and storytelling

#warmup Arya Stark ????

A photo posted by Vanesa R. Del Rey (@vrdelrey) on

Del Rey’s main artistic influence has been impressionism, in part thanks to the art books her grandmother kept around the house. “I really like impressionism and I try to bring that into my work. Really loose, moving, and flowing,” she says.

Other influences on the Cuban artist include world-renowned French comic book artist Moebius, Canadian illustrator Jillian Tamaki, Russian realism, and movies. “My grandma was a movie buff. Movies are a big part of my influence. It’s visual storytelling.”

So what kinds of films is Del Rey into? “I like the Coen brothers a lot. P.T. Anderson is really cool, too.” And like many of us, she’s also a fan of Game of Thrones.

4

On her first job as a comic artist

Well, see here ❤ @brycecarlson @dafnaboom @boom_studios #HIT ????

A photo posted by Vanesa R. Del Rey (@vrdelrey) on

Upon graduating from Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art & Design, Del Rey worked for over two years as an animation concept artist for Moonbot Studios in Louisiana. While there, she received an email from an editor at Boom! Studios asking her to test for a series they had. “It didn’t pan out, so they referred me to the writer for Hit, Bryce Carlson, and that’s how I got my first job doing comics,” she says.  

5

On drawing and being a feminist

Ssssssseecretsss for 2016

A photo posted by Vanesa R. Del Rey (@vrdelrey) on

Looking through her work, there’s no doubt Del Rey really enjoys drawing strong, often sensual women. She recently published an erotic zine called Mind the Gap with fellow artist Christina Ellis. I asked her about her apparent preference in drawing women. “I don’t think I make a conscious decision to draw women more than men. I just choose the shapes I’m most familiar with,” Del Rey says.

“When I was in high school, I got challenged by a boy to draw a sexy woman because he said women couldn’t draw sexy women. I tried to prove him wrong and maybe that has stuck. Maybe I wanted to do something that is traditionally categorized as a ‘man thing’,” Del Rey says, adding, “I’m definitely a feminist. Don’t tell me I can’t do something because I’m a woman.”

6

On what's next

????Kali #watercolor #detail #kali #goddess

A photo posted by Vanesa R. Del Rey (@vrdelrey) on

For now, Del Rey has more than her share of freelance work, plus some personal projects she’s working on. “I’d love to work on good stories with great collaborators. Maybe a Silver Surfer would be fun to play with, the chrome look feels like a challenge.” 


Vanesa R. Del Rey will be appearing next at the C2E2 Convention in Chicago this March, followed by Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con in April and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May. Follow her on Instagram @vrdelrey and see more of her work on her website vrdelrey.com