Drawing on her experiences, visual artist Reyna Noriega opts for her designs to feature faceless subjects. Not only does it open up the piece’s emotion for individual interpretation, but it also allows women of color to feel personally connected to it. 

The Afro-Caribbean artist runs her online business selling prints, stationery, home goods, and more. She has worked with brands like American Express, Warby Parker, and Old Navy. One of her most adored prints, Aqua Womxn, was featured on the clothing company’s 2021 edition of their Black History Month t-shirt, selling out completely in just over two weeks.

“Throughout my life, I have been on a quest to better understand the things that plague this world like poverty, sadness, insecurity, grief, and so much more,” said Noriega of her art’s inspiration. “Little by little, through my art and some intentionally dreamed-up products, I begin to find answers to how people can channel happier and more peaceful lives.”

Noriega let mitú in on her background in all her creative pursuits, how her Latino culture uplifts her, and more.

Finding out art wasn’t just a hobby

As a teenager in Miami, Noriega felt like she was only adept at two things: doing well in school and creative writing. She added art to her growing arsenal of talent during her junior year of high school, feeling inspired to improve her skills in another outlet.

“It became a way to release, another way to communicate my ideas, a way to dream, and so much more,” said Noriega. 

She attended Florida International University, majoring in psychology and minoring in visual art and English. After earning her Bachelor’s degree, she became a high school art teacher, creating a full-circle moment.

Not long after, Noriega decided to work as a freelance graphic designer. The career change proved fruitful because she landed the opportunity to design covers for Science Magazine and The New Yorker. She was most recently named this year’s best illustrator by the Miami New Times.

In addition to illustrating, Noriega dove back into creative writing and released three poetry collections about isolationlove, and personal growth

Running a small business and other endeavors

The second arm of Noriega’s career is her online shop, Reyna Noriega Studios. It’s the place to find her museum-quality art prints, and other exclusive products, including nail art, throw pillows, and even digital downloads.

She learned a lot about running a business, managing money, and overcoming her insecurities about money. Initially, she felt she didn’t trust her inner voice and story. She wanted to speak for everything and everyone through her art, creating pressure on herself.

“Over time, I learned to buckle in and really do some introspection to figure out who I was and what I was most passionate about and could speak on with most authenticity,” said Noriega.

Her “deep, deep love for colors, movement, and vibrancy” also manifests in collaborations with brands. Noriega joined forces with Nomads, a Black-owned luxury swim and resort wear brand on a limited-edition capsule collection. Her eye-catching prints are featured on swimsuits, breezy pants, and kimono-style coverups.

Growing confidence in her vision as a Latina

The advice she followed to gain confidence in her business abilities is what she would tell other Latinas looking to do the same. “First and foremost, find yourself, then find your people,” said Noriega. 

Noriega lives by the notion of bringing her visions to life, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. She owes her resilience and purpose to her Latino culture and ancestors.

“My parents, grandparents, and ancestors overcame so many obstacles to create this life for me,” she explained. “How can I not do the same for our family name?”

“I feel like I owe them the world for their sacrifices, so everything I achieve honors them and the land they left behind to create this life for us.”