We had the good fortune of connecting with Adela Antoinette and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adela, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I find risk taking to be important for growth and progress. I didn’t think I was much of a risk taker until I reflected on the decisions I have made leading up to where I am today and on the feedback I’ve received from friends and followers on social media. I find myself to be a realist, logical thinker, and determine risks considering my goals and what I want to achieve. Today I am thoughtful and mindful of my decisions but I find that I will still take risks, acknowledging that it is okay to fail. I take what worked and carry it into other areas. I take what didn’t work and figure out where to adjust so that I may avoid from failing again. It is trial and error. I suppose this is easier said than done especially when taking big risks but as I continue in my field I am still determined. I find that as long as I am thoughtful and present in taking risks, they are usually worth the experience no matter the outcome. I do want to address that fear is necessary to make conscious decisions but it isn’t to be given full range in the decision-making. Be prepared emotionally and financially. I have been able to travel, experience new things and get out of my comfort zone just by taking risks. These have lead to networking in areas I may have overlooked otherwise and have provided inspiration for my art. As long as I trust my gut and do a little digging via research I can feel confident in the decisions I make. The most recent risk I took was moving from Tucson, AZ to NYC right before the pandemic started… Still figuring this one out but it’s a one-day at a time situation. The thing is, sometimes the universe has other plans and it’s best to recognize what I do have control over vs. what I don’t and to be able to know the difference between the two. This keeps moral up and motivation strong. I find gratitude in it all.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work predominantly consists of watercolor and ink illustrations. The two mediums I am a die-hard fan of at the moment. My muse: Botany. My biggest project is Cacti Oasis©, a collection of whimsical cacti and desert plant illustrations. Within this collection I sell prints, greeting cards, stickers and swag. This last winter I released my very first jigsaw puzzle in my online shop and launched a 2021 Desert Bloom Wall Calendar I collaborated on with my partner who’s a wonderful designer. This year I will have a few more products coming out, one of them being a coloring book of cacti illustrations. Growing up in the desert I found myself infatuated by how plants not only grow in the desert but also thrive. They are so resilient. It’s inspiring on many levels. Although I now currently live in NYC, I still find botany intriguing. How does life still find a way to grow in a concrete jungle?! It’s pretty amazing. Eventually my work will change here and there but I can’t help but hold onto this subject matter a while longer. With that said, I am still learning how to navigate the art world as an illustrator. Although I continue to do freelance work, I tend to self-produce the product in my shop. I am learning that I need to outsource funding to get things mass-produced while keeping things affordable for supporters. This has lead to creating Kickstarters and a Patreon I will be launching in February. I find myself grateful for the following, support and excitement I get for producing the work I do but at the end of the day I am a one women show trying to keep a roof over my head with my art during a pandemic when I use to rely on my part time serving position to pay most of the bills. This is a harsh reality for most since many artists have part-time or day jobs to help relieve the pressure on their creativity. It’s fight or flight mode and I choose to fight to stay above water with my work ethic, education and illustration skill set. Some are not so fortunate. So I find myself truly grateful for the space to create and my health. I continue to engage in community virtually and have figured out new ways to promote my work and obtain more freelance gigs. I like to think I’m resilient, like the cacti from back home or the lush flora that grows through the cracks of the city during warmer months.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
New York City is a little intense. I was only here for a year before pandemic hit. And I wasn’t super touristy. I absolutely loathed having to go into Time Square! So with that said, I LOVE NYC but not for what most people come for, so here are some of my favorite botanical spots to hit up before the pandemic and hopefully after. Riverside park and Morningside park have a special place in my heart and are located on the upper west side and Harlem. They are the first parks in NYC that I lived by, ran through, worked out in and created in. Riverside is connected to the Hudson and has gorgeous views of the Sunset looking into NJ. It’s also a short walk to Colombia University’s epic campus. Morningside Park has beautiful gardens, pathways and SO MANY STAIRS (Great for the glutes). I once jogged past a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel film shoot here! I can recognize the steps I use to work out on in the show. Less than a mile away is the tipity top of Central Park. Central Park is great because its filled with so much to do along with places to visit around the area like the Guggenheim, The Met and The Natural History Museum. Also, Russ & Daughter’s Bagel at the Jewish Museum is near by. They have the best bagels. Hands down! Although a touristy location, Central park is big enough for us to enjoy ourselves without the overwhelming feeling of the city. You can people watch (my favorite), picnic, play sports, jog, bike, and be entertained by artists, musicians and street performers. There is so much to do and see. You can even hike in some areas of the park and forget you’re in the city. I once watched a hawk catch a rat and raccoons steal people’s food while they sat on benches. I’ve watched plants grow, wilt, go dormant and then bud all over again. Next is The Highline, a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail that is located on the west side of Manhattan in New York City. This short walk has a gorgeous view of architecture, street art and the Hudson! You’ll also want to hit up the Whitney Museum and Chelsea Market. So much art and yummy food! My last spot is Prospect Park. Prospect Park is similar to Central Park in many ways but maybe a little less chaotic. It hosts this amazing food festival called the Smorgasbord and has the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Once after a trip to the gardens I came across a free music festival and joined in on the fun. Parks in my mind are underrated. There is something about them I absolutely enjoy and as botanical artist I just can’t get enough of. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Most of my gratitude goes to my inner circle family, friends and my partner. I have received nothing but love, support, healthy criticism and encouragement. I also try to keep myself surrounded by other artists virtually since we are patiently waiting to socialize physically. I find that I have a wonderful group of artists I can reach out to or respond to for work or non-work related topics. It helps keep me motivated, inspired, challenged and always questioning. I am also grateful for the online community I have been apart of and continue to build upon. Those that follow, engage, share and support my work have helped me tremendously over the years. As far as outside my inner circle, Maria Hinojosa, an American-Mexican journalist, is like the progressive tia (auntie) I wish I had growing up and the strong resilient tia I hope to be. She is a powerful force and wonderful representation for fellow latin women in this world fighting for justice, equality and equity. As an illustrator I must recognize someone I look up to and admire, Lisa Congdon. She is an illustrator, author, teacher, activist, and entrepreneur. Her path and existence in the arts validates all that I have strived to accomplish and all that I wish to achieve.