• April
  • 20
  • 2017

Alumni Spotlight / Luisa Rivera ’15

We are proud to present our interview with illustrator Luisa Rivera! Luisa is a London-based illustrator whose beautiful work has appeared in magazines, books, newspapers, and exhibitions for clients the world over. Her deft hand and dreamy color palettes are mesmerizing to behold, and her thoughtfulness and enthusiasm for her work is evident in all she does.

Recently, she was given the honor of illustrating an edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Colombian author Gabriel García Marquez for Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial–an edition with typography designed by the author’s own son.

Visit Luisa on the web, and read about her in her own words below!


Where did you grow up, and how did that influence your career path?

I grew up in an environment where creativity and art was important and encouraged, so that influenced me a lot. I was born and raised in Chile, and spent most of the time in the capital, Santiago. However, for every school break I traveled with my family to the south of the country to visit my grandmother. I’m not sure how this place influenced my career path, but it has indubitably influenced my work, because it gave me an understanding of nature and folklore, which are crucial in my practice.

What’s something you learned as an MCAD/MFA that surprised you?

When I started the MFA program, I was surprised by all the instances we had to share and work collectively. New activities were happening all the time, and both students and faculty were equally engaged, so I acquired a sense of community within education.

Who is your favorite artist?

So hard to pick just one! But if I must, I would choose Kiki Smith.

What inspires you lately?

Good stories.

When you look back at your tenure here, what do you wish you would have done more or less of?

Maybe audit some courses that looked amazing, but couldn’t because of work and timing.

What have you learned since graduating?

I’ve learned that one should always be in a state of exploring, regardless of where you are in your career. When you reflect on your work, you learn new things and, therefore, you avoid formulas.

What do you do when you feel creatively blocked?

I try to relax, because I’ve learned that creative blocks usually intensify with anxiety. Taking a break is always good, but sometimes you can’t do it, when you are dealing with a tight deadline. In that case, I might change the strategy that I’ve been trying so far. Also, with time I’ve generated an inner voice that tells me “don’t worry, you’ve felt like this before, and you’ve always managed to overcome it on time.” That helps!

How did you decide where to move to/live/work after graduating?

A combination of things! But in short, after I finished the MFA, Lister, my other half, was accepted to study a Masters degree in London. We wanted to keep traveling rather than going back to Chile, so we moved from Minneapolis to the UK.

Tell us about your current job situation. What is your role there?

I am working as a freelance illustrator in London, for projects involved in publishing, editorial and arts. Also, I work as an educator in museums like the Wallace Collection, teaching art workshops.

What’s a favorite part of your job/work? Conversely, what, if anything do you dread?

Telling stories with images and the act of painting are my favorite parts. The only downside is that I work alone, so it can be isolating, but I normally enjoy that space.

What makes you fall in love?

Inexplicable chemistry!

What scares you?

Earthquakes and ignorance.

How do you keep challenging yourself in your art?

I set new goals every six months. Some are achieved, some are not, but having purposes has been very useful in my personal and commercial work.

How do you maintain a work/life balance – or do you?

Both areas are blended together in a way that it’s hard for me to see the boundary anymore, but I love that mishmash.

What’s next?

A new book coming out this spring, so stay tuned! *Edit: it’s out!


For more information:

Luisa Rivera

Interviewer: Jodie Burke
Illustration: Dana K. Cheit

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies

Alumni Links

Current Mentors

MFA Program Overview

MFA Print Portfolio