On Twitter I try to follow as many cartoonists as possible but often find myself checking out illustrators as well. I confess that I tend to spend more time looking at comics than the work of illustrators, but when you see some of the fantastic work that gets posted you often have to stop everything and go “wow.”
Andrea Montano is one such artist.
There’s a lot I admire about Montano’s work. The colors, the compositions, the energy, heck she even does comics! But what stands out the most for me is the diversity, and the versatility of Montano’s work.
To say that Andrea can pull off more than one style is an understatement. Looking at the differences from one work to the next, you’d think she was several people!
But what I have to stress when talking about my admiration of Montano is the cultural diversity in her work. I’ve seen a rise in diversity in art over the last eight years, but what I’m hoping becomes a major movement is still in its infancy. If you look at samples of illustration on Google, Tumblr, or even on my own website, you’re going to find a lot of whiteness. And it’s not the whiteness that bothers me, its the fact that it excludes the majority of shades to be found on Earth! not to mention the majority of people who enjoy illustration/comics!
Unlike many artists (myself included sometimes) Montano doesn’t shy away from the challenge of diversity. The result? Every single one of her works is beautiful, whether her inspirations come from Asia, Europe, Africa, or South America!
I don’t want to sound as though cultural diversity is the one thing that makes Andrea Montano’s work so brilliant. It’s obvious she’s incredibly disciplined, detail oriented, and an expert with the tools she works with. But I think she deserves tons of recognition for her efforts to provide a spectrum of people in her work.
It’s easy for us artists to stick with what we know and neglect the things that make us uncomfortable. That’s something we all do, artist or not. Except everyone flocks to art. Every day millions of children joyfully pick up comics, watch movies, leaf through picture books, and play games. Millions more of these children won’t find characters that look like them, and all too often it boils down to artists who are unwillingly to put a range of people in the spotlight. By the time many artists go to school to hone their skills, it almost never crosses their minds that they’re cheating themselves and their future audiences when they make no attempt to explore the wonderful variety of what life offers.
One of my favorite pieces of Montano is her depiction of Wonder Woman as a teacher. Teachers have to be one of the most dismissed professionals in the world. We don’t celebrate them the way we celebrate actors, musicians, or even artists. And yet? great teachers have the power to completely transform the consciousness of their students. In a single school year great teachers can improve a young person’s life for decades, they are the true super heroes in our lives, so to me it makes perfect sense that Wonder Woman would be a teacher. Andrea herself tutors, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Her work is inspirational, and I’m so glad she is imparting her wisdom unto others!