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Photo @dolescent member crush: Malaika Astorga

Dec. 17, 2020
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This is a weekly series where we feature our incredibly talented Adolescent members and their work! Sign up here to join the Adolescent Membership and be part of the @ family!

Our newest Member Crush is...Malaika Astorga! A Mexican-Canadian visual artist, Malaika is the co-founder of Also Cool Mag, and she works to provide Latinx representation in mainstream media. This week, we sat down with her to talk COVID productivity, graphic design, and how she gets her sketches going.

Adolescent Content: Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from? How old are you? How are you spending your time these days?

Malaika Astorga: I’m a 22-year-old Mexican-Canadian artist currently living in Montreal, but originally from Ottawa. I’m a visual artist and writer, mostly working with musicians, brands, and other creatives. I work in social-media marketing professionally, and on freelance work as well. Lately I’ve been focusing on running my magazine, Also Cool Mag, and have been adjusting to working a 9-5 again.

Adolescent: How has 2020 changed your work and style?

Malaika: Pre-COVID, my schedule was packed and I was running around nonstop. I would work my 9-5, get home, either run out to have a meeting/dinner or do my freelance at home. After that, I would usually have a show or social event to go to, and then go home, do some work, and make sure I was ready for the next day. 

Nowadays, I’m home all the time. Like many people, I was laid off from my job, and instead focused on my freelance work. At first, I was feeling really bad about not being “as productive” as I had been. But I slowly learned that it’s okay to not do the most all the time, and that I really needed to rest. Now, I feel like everything I’m doing is a lot more intentional, and therefore aligned with what I’m passionate about. I’m not giving energy to anything that doesn’t feel 100% right, and I’m a lot more in tune with my needs. My illustrative style has become a lot more carefree, colourful, and centered on my feelings as a result.

Adolescent: Can you tell me about your creative process?

Malaika: I’m a big fan of mixing analog and digital. I have a traditional fine arts background, and if anything, it’s ingrained in me that I always start a drawing on paper. Even if I’m planning for a music video, I’ll draw it out on paper first. 

I’ll usually do some warm-up sketches in the morning inspired by my surroundings and Pinterest. I’ll later go through them, choose a few to develop, and start working on them in Procreate on my iPad. Procreate is what Photoshop and Illustrator would be if they were actually designed for people who draw. I love it. I’m also always listening to music, especially when I’m drawing. When I’m close to finishing the piece, I’ll play around with different color palettes and textures, and will sometimes export the drawing to Photoshop to finish it up. 

If I’m ever out of ideas and I don’t want to be looking at a screen, I take a walk or bike ride around my neighborhood and to do some life drawing. 

Adolescent: How does being in Montreal affect your work?

Malaika: Moving to Montreal was what allowed me to really find and connect to my community. The city is so vibrant and creative, and the scene really allows you to experiment and try to put yourself out there. The cost of living is still pretty reasonable, so that helps too.

Adolescent: What’s it been like being an Adolescent Member?

Malaika: It’s been amazing to connect with creators around the world who are all making such unique and incredible work. It’s definitely exposed me to a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and encourages me to push myself as an artist.