A Cynic illustrator speaks to her art’s cultural influences

Senior Sofia Gratton, a Cynic illustrator and independent artist, said elements of her artwork are significantly influenced by her Hispanic heritage. 

Gratton, who is Hispanic, created several mini illustrations for the Cynic website in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. A few of these illustrations took inspiration from Mexican tile and historical artwork, Gratton said.

The tradition of glazed Mexican tile, or talavera, dates back to the early 1700s, according to a 2014 Ceramics Monthly journal article. The pottery is typically glazed white and blue and has a mixture of Islamic, Italian, Spanish, and Indigenous Mexican artistic influence. 

With both parents being from Mexico, and her father being an architect, Gratton feels a strong sense of familial identity both in connection to her cultural background and in relation to her identity as an artist, she said. 

Certain techniques that are popular in Mexican art, such as specific color combinations and Day of the Dead imagery, carry over into Gratton’s personal style, she said. 

“I definitely feel the influence when it comes to colors and shapes and stuff like that,” Gratton said. “I took lots of inspiration from things that I used to encounter a lot more back home.”

Even though Gratton moved from southern California to Colorado in her childhood, she has had a consistent connection with Mexico and her Mexican family members, she said. 

Now living in Vermont, Gratton feels that she is a little bit removed from Mexican ways of life, she said.

Despite being far from her family, Gratton believes that by making art that shows a visual influence from her heritage, she can bring her identity with her wherever she goes, she said.

“I can kind of preserve it, and myself,” she said. “I am my own Mexican household.”