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Art & Life with Michael Trujillo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Trujillo.

Michael, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I used to get into so much trouble in kindergarten! I’d be put in the corner desk with only my crayons and blank paper. Drawing and coloring put me at ease and helped me focus. It eventually turned into more of an escape for me, and I could not stop! Throughout grade school I developed my skill, and I knew early on I wanted to be an artist. Not only was it a form of expression to me, but I saw the power it had to create a conversation and have potential to influence others. How could I play a role in all this?

I was greatly inspired by Disney, and I took those hopeful motifs to heart. Though it seemed childish, I believed my “dreams would come true” and I promised myself I would make art my profession. There was no other option. After high school I traded the farm life in Arizona, for sunshine and beaches to attend the Ringling College of Art & Design in Florida. Four years later, with no sleep, hard-work, and LOTS of coffee, I graduated with my BFA in Illustration. That summer I moved to Chicago to begin work as a Product Designer. I now illustrate collectibles for many brands such as Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and Coca Cola…etc.

I stay just as busy outside of work. I’ve illustrated three children’s books, created several collections of birthday party favors, and I take on the occasional commission. My portraits of music’s biggest divas have been praised by such singers as Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Toni Braxton, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson…etc. among others. Music remains a huge inspiration for me, nothing gets my mind in the creative “zone” than some 90’s Mariah vocals!

Lately my newest endeavor has been participating in more local art shows. The internet is a great resource, yet it can’t capture the feeling of seeing someone react to your art in person, and the conversations that come with that! I’m thankful for the path art has taken me since I was 6yrs old – and at 25 I feel there’s still so much more to come!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My Artwork exists to create a space for happiness, free of negativity. I make my artwork from a genuine place inside, which is always happy. Art has been the saving grace for me to pull me out of hard times. It’s my goal to inspire others to find that same joy within themselves, when viewing my artwork – if even just for a minute.

I was traditionally trained in college (oil painting, watercolor, charcoal drawings…etc. I can work in all mediums) but with today’s industry I’ve made the switch to digital painting. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that I love to experiment with. I have a tablet that I hand draw all my artwork with (no mouse clicking here!) though I sketch most of my concepts first.

You’ll find bright, bold colors in all my work. And my themes range from cute animals to illustrative scenes that convey a story. My beginning years follow the “happy cute” formula, however it became stagnant. To break this, I created my “Colors of Emotion” series. Which expanded beyond the “happy/cutesy” theme. “What else did I have inside?” I challenged myself to find ways of expressing the emotions we keep inside or maybe don’t know how to describe. I learned a lot from that series as a person and as an artist. I’ve since adapted a more raw and relaxed look that can now be seen in the brush strokes of my current artwork. Such as my “Doggos” series, which features lively animated dogs of all breeds interacting with emojis.

As a huge music fan I pay tribute by creating portraits of my favorite vocalists. With the emergence of social media, I also create socially aware pieces from time to time. Applying all that I’ve learned in the past to my current work, I’m come full circle; experimenting with new ways of creating and expressing myself, yet sticking true to who I am and not letting go of my happiness.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
It’s an even mix of both, I think. Mostly it falls on how the artist handles it, and if they choose to make a career with their artwork or keep it as a hobby. The great thing for the hobbyist is there are more opportunities to get your art seen without hiring an agent. Dozens of art shows take place that have an open call to artists of all talents, and there are hundreds of media outlets that can feature an artist’s work. If you’re willing to put in the work, it’s easy to get your art out there.

The creative pool is now bigger than ever, making it harder to compete with others who do this just for fun. So it gives us the challenge of, “what can we do to stand out, and how to distinguish yourself between a professional or a hobbyist – or even as both!

The best thing cities can do to help its artists, is promote them! Either through hosting an art show, or featuring their work in an article, artists need promotion to have their work seen. Shows are a great option as they also build a community. There’s no better way to bond and network than being in a room with other artists in the exact same position as you are. These artistic communities then build each other up keep the art culture alive. In the end, we just want to be seen and make are Art accessible to those who can enjoy it.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Join the party on Instagram! Follow me at @mtrujillo_art. You can see all my new (and past) artworks. I post in progress peeks and videos often, and interact with everyone through stories and comments. Come check it out! As mentioned I participate in local Chicago art shows year round, you can see all the news of when and where from my Instagram account. Prints are always available and I do take custom requests upon contact. I recently launched my own store. At you can purchase shirts, bags, phone cases and more of some of my popular works. Honestly thanks to whoever read this article, that alone means a lot. I hope you enjoy my work!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Artist – Michael Trujillo

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. John & Jan Gutierrez

    September 19, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Tucson, Arizona Grandparents review: Michael Trujillo has your heart. Spiritually, emotionally, creatively, intrinsically. Michaels artwork and journalist skills, are wanderlust. His bond, with his Mother, Cathy is as strong and unbreakable, formidable. Also, with his, stepfather Christopher. We tried our best to supply Michael with necessary life skills, tools and a sense of patience and responsibilities. This included, being an altar boy at Church. We included a globe, skates, book holder, dictionary/thesaurus and large wooden book holder to stabilize his art drawings. He loved the swimming pool, camping and all Family gatherings, as Michael continues to do so. He is a loving Grandson and keeps us abreast, with frequent Arizona home visits. Michael has a sketch, of Walt Disney sitting on his boyhood chair, in his bedroom.

    Congratulations Michael. You have Arrived.

    Love, Tata and Jan. Forever, in Our hearts Mijo Michael.

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