With the countdown to the inaugural Sight + Sound Film Festival fully underway, we’re super excited to debut one key component of the event…the official poster. Designed by Oxnard native, Erika Gutierrez, you’ll start to see the symbolic projected eye all over the place.
Erika’s interest in drawing and design has been has been going on for years. Her work was finally featured in last year’s Oxnard Multicultural Festival where she had an opportunity to learn from and work alongside lauded graphic designer and fellow Oxnardian, David Zamudio.
When we approached Erika to ask if she would be interested in creating our film fest poster, we were beyond thrilled when she said, yes.
Erika graduated from Pacifica High School earlier this year and is now preparing for college life at the University of California, Los Angeles.
We recently spoke with Erika to get insight into the poster’s design and find out more about the art that inspires her, high school, planning for a future, and living in Oxnard.
How did you get interested in art and graphic design?
Gutierrez: There was no great epiphany or great start that came with my interest in art. I did feel strength, importance, and happy whenever I filled in a detail or added a new color shade to a drawing. I enjoy color, and art has lots of it. Art also has self and outward expression and perspective, which was very important to me because it was my voice when I couldn’t be vocal. Graphic design has smooth coloring and allows me to get in control and erase, improve, and then create something entirely different. To me, graphic design was like becoming good buddies with technology, and at the same time it helped me to develop and mature alongside it.
What type of art inspires you?
Gutierrez: All art is a great form of expression, but pop art, such as artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, hold no limit. I feel pop art allows me to be detailed or not detailed, simple or large, and eye popping. It gives me the freedom to decide what I will label my expression, and not tap into norms or critics of a particular art style. I’m also a vibrant person, just ask my hair…it’s blue! Pop art to me is putting emphasis on the POP. It stands out to me and stands out to those who view it.
For your work on the Sight + Sound Film Festival poster, what does the artwork represent?
Gutierrez: For my design, I wanted to capture the human senses and combine them into a piece that could startle or make someone take a step back and maybe spot some common factors. The image itself represents a being, like a Frankenstein being, put together by the senses. The Sight + Sound Film Festival is about coming together and exploring the feelings that are enabled by the different senses. By allowing the senses to not just become an ordinary everyday thing we often ignore, we open ourselves up to greater depths, detail, understanding, and creativity. Hence, why the design could be perceived as disturbing or eye catching.
You’ve recently graduated from Pacifica High School and now you’ve been accepted to UCLA. How excited are you about going to college and what will you be studying?
Gutierrez: I feel I’ve rigorously worked for this moment where I can now proudly say I am going to college. To say I’m excited is only a fraction of all the various emotions I have when I think about attending UCLA. I feel relief and afraid all at once, relief because I now have a fresh new goal, and afraid, because of the new responsibilities and distance from the people that helped me grow into a person with options for a life ahead. I’ll be majoring in biology and will work to become a surgeon. I want to return to Oxnard and open up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) workshops for kids to encourage interest in learning and push for more positive inner goals for a life beyond themselves.
How was high school life for you? Are you going to miss it?
Gutierrez: High school was stressful. I constantly found myself in a slump. There were times I felt the amount of effort and work I put in was never enough and that I was slowly becoming a robot. I followed unspoken rules every day. I joined just about every club I could because it’s what everyone does to get ahead. I stopped doing things for me and did them because it was what a good student was expected to do. On the other hand, high school was also empowering. I hate homework, but it felt good when I would complete my assignments. I felt on top of the world like I was becoming a better version of myself, never staying in one state of mind and always improving. Not once did I give up.
How would you describe your hometown of Oxnard to someone who has never visited this city?
Gutierrez: Oxnard is a community. You get to know people and create relationships like no other place. There are so many that live and work here that represent different cultural backgrounds and it's so awesome to see everyone hanging out with each other. You look at Oxnard and it reminds you of a television show, a whole storyline built around one place in time. If you grew up in Oxnard and moved away, or you come by as a visitor, everyone always wants to come back for more. They want to come back not because Oxnard has some extravagant mall or because it's such a popular tourist spot, they come back because the people here are Oxnard. It’s not just a place, this city is about family and friends, or, maybe even about a teacher or coach that inspired their students. Oxnard is family.