This month we are so excited to have our Spring line in full bloom, but we are particularly in love with our VITA print. We want you to get to know Reyna Noriega, the illustrator behind the look and an artist with an eye for the future.
Reyna’s vibrance and boldness are an eye-catching addition to any wardrobe, but her intention will give you a style really worth talking about.
Reyna Noriega is a 27-year-old Afro-Latina author, educator, and visual artist. For her, art has always been a tool by which she could dive deeper into herself. The joy and clarity it brings her have led her to devote her work to help others heal and find happiness wherever they stand. Her client base is predominantly women and she strives to help them on their journeys to create businesses that are inclusive, conscious, and forward-thinking. She lets her culture and experiences as a woman shine through in her work in the hopes others can see representation for their experiences and feel empowered.
In her personal work, she seeks to represent the beauty, vibrance, and fine art of women so that they can feel represented in those spaces.
Her skillsets and background vary widely, however, the underlying theme for all is her need to understand and help others. She received a BA in Psychology from Florida International University, with a minor in Art and English, and taught graphic design and visual arts for 4 years in a public high school. Here she further developed not only her skill but her passion to teach, motivate and inspire. After that, she went on to be a creative director, public and motivational speaker, and then finally a full-time illustrator in 2018.
She continues to create, take clients, and publish books that quench her thirst for creativity.
REYNA’S WORK WITH SSEKO
Reyna’s skills as a graphic designer and illustrator caught our attention immediately, but the heart and soul she puts into her work is what let us know she needed to be a part of our Sseko collection.
On her site, she has the quote “Ars Longa Vita Brevis” which means Art is Lasting, Life is Brief. We took a page from Reyna’s book and the colorful print she designed was dubbed VITA. We’ve always loved the marriage of art and fashion and felt it gave a certain vitality to style, but this collection truly breathes life into this season’s looks.
Perhaps the biggest statement piece of the whole season is our Multiway Duster in Vita. You will want to layer this piece with every outfit as you move out of dark hues and into stunning botanicals. But that’s not the only place to find this print. Our Sage Green Vita Tee not only carries over elements of this pretty pattern, but the line art captures the stunning, feminine silhouette (and iconic statement earrings!) that Reyna is known for. This look in particular felt so stunningly Sseko in the way it enveloped beauty, sisterhood, sustainability, and sensational style.
The pattern is also popping up on our Circle Crossbody Bag, Bandana, Jewelry Case, and Ribbons for our Ribbon Sandals.
A CONVERSATION WITH REYNA
Your early career was as a photographer. How and why did you transition into a visual artist?
I’ve always kept myself challenged by feeding my creativity. My earliest interests were writing and guitar, I picked up photography when I found one of my dad’s old film cameras and started experimenting. I got into drawing and painting shortly after when I took an 11th grade IB art class and have always fluctuated between writing, photography, and art and used them to keep me inspired.
Were art and creativity always a part of your life or did you discover it on your own?
My father is an artist and I got to see him do a lot of drawing and graphic design growing up. It was such a cool feeling to see his drawings go from his sketchbook to his computer and then out in the world on clothing or signs. It felt like magic to me and I wanted to cultivate that for myself.
What inspires your art?
My art is first and foremost a way to bring more joy into my life and that of those who will view it, so I start with me. As a Black and Afro-Latina woman, representation was very important and at the center, people feel better and more confident when they know they are valued and that they have the ability to make their dreams come true. I choose to depict confident women in settings that bring me peace, using vibrant colors and remnants of trips I’ve taken or hope to take.
Women’s empowerment and diverse expression of the female experience seem to be a theme of your work. How do you hope to represent women in your work?
I hope to positively represent women of color boldly and separate from our trauma. I want my work to be something that gives women the energy and fortitude to keep moving forward.
You’re also a teacher. What do you hope that every young person learns as they grow?
That they have the ability to make all their dreams come true, and that they have endless options of what that can look like. As an art teacher, I loved showing my students all the examples of how people use art in their careers. Everything from the backpacks and shoes they wear to apps they use and movies they watch involved artists. It’s important they understand success isn’t one size fits all.
What is the concept or inspiration behind the Vita print?
The Vita print features women and organic plant shapes. It is meant to incorporate all the aspects I include in my designs in a seamless pattern. Caring for plants brings me joy, fashion and accessories are some of my favorite things. It will hopefully be a print that other women will feel connected to.
What do you hope people will feel when they wear a Vita piece from our Spring Collection?
I hope they feel joy, peace, and confidence. I hope it feels like a beautiful celebration of womanhood.
MORE OF REYNA’S WORK
We don’t blame you if you get literally everything in VITA because it is THE look of spring, but if you still feel like you haven’t gotten quite enough Reyna, then make sure you head to her shop. She has prints, her book In Bloom, a throw pillow, stickers, and more! Support an artist on the rise and be a walking advertisement for the strength and beauty of a woman with purpose.