I painted this huge mural of Drag Queen Valentina on the back of my art studio warehouse in East Los Angeles – Low Road City. It’s still to date one of my biggest murals. I wrote in my previous Miss Vanjie mural post about this strange and wonderful warehouse and the project to paint it’s alley. I was stoked to get to paint something this big and have creative freedom. I chose Valentina because she’s from East LA, Mexican-American and represents Latinx culture in her drag, and this neighbourhood in particular is very Mexican. Directly in front of the mural is a parking lot that I discovered on holidays is used for giant traditional community parties. One day I stumbled on one with various costumes, mariachi bands and food stalls. Every so often I’d be in my studio painting and hear Latinx music coming through the walls, so I’d take a break and take a wander around the party.
This mural was painted during a particularly busy time. NYC World Pride mural project, OutFest LA LGBT Centre mural, Enigma Beverly Hills live painting, Oaklash drag festival, Serenity Gathering live painting, Art Battle SF, vending at DragCon and art trips to SF and Mexico, all happening in June-July. There wasn’t much money for paint supplies for this mural nor time so I kept the design very minimal, which suited what I had been doing stylistically at the time anyway. Shout-out to Boxcar Vida for all her help in making this mural happen, and showing me the best Ceviche taco trucks in LA.
Some time after I remember seeing this come up on a popular post on Reddit. A lot of the comments were very rude/critical about it looking like various different queens. It was pretty upsetting at the time, considering the huge effort and investment it takes to organize and paint murals this big, and relatedly how rare queer drag murals are, and yet these hardcore reddit drag fans didn’t have any appreciation for that. Very few ‘Wow I haven’t seen this before, that’s huge’ and many negative joyless comments. I generally don’t read comments off of my own posts anymore because there is always this perfectionist negative skew. I think random criticism can be beneficial if it’s to do with morals and ethics, but otherwise it’s not helpful or useful. When I want stylistic or technical improvement I’ll get it from someone who actually knows about the various factors involved in a particular project. There are a lot of practical reasons why things end up looking the way they do, none of which a reddit commenter knows. Overall this moment and others like it have been positive experiences because they’ve contributed to counteract my people pleasing and perfectionist conditioning, and instead find a more freeing and understanding mindset. There will always be someone who is negative and unhappy, you can never please everyone, so why bother people pleasing and diminishing yourself for others validation. Just do what you want and believe in. It’s also taught me to be much more compassionate and understanding of others and to look out for my own negative/critical bias. I believe we are all just doing our best, and unless it’s a moral/ethical issue, I don’t see the need to drag others down. I’d rather celebrate achievement than criticize imperfection.