Justin Teodoro is the powerful and creative name behind the Statue of Liberty’s illustration that went viral a few weeks back! We talked to him about his breathtaking career, his inspirations and discovered his 7 secret spots in NYC.
A few weeks back, the social media universe went wild with a beautiful illustration created by the NY-based illustrator, Justin Teodoro.
In a powerful response to the first lady, Melania Trump’s Zara jacket, which had “I really don’t care. Do you?”, written on the back, Justin’s creative, powerful and positive reply, moved the world.
The outrageous act that has been moving people to stand up against the zero tolerance policy of family separations at the boarder, led by President Trump, was spread through out the internet.
Even those that chose to be isolated for the political scene, were touched.
Like us, countless other media platforms and Instagram users, reposted Justin’s illustration, supporting the cause.
Our interview below, will show you more about Justin’s story, career, conquests, inspirations, finishing off with 7 of his secret spots in NYC!
1. Can you tell me a bit about your background? Where you’re from? What you studied? Where you’ve worked?
I’m from Vancouver, BC Canada – born and raised there. I did my undergrad at University of Toronto and after I graduated in 2003 I moved back to Vancouver to figure out what to do for a career.
I’ve always drawn and loved art, but never knew how to make that happen as a “job”. I was always into fashion but, that seemed so far away to me as a career.
I then found about the Associates Fashion program at Parsons and with the support of my family applied and got in. So, I moved to NYC in 2005 to pursue a career in fashion.
I worked as a womenswear designer for 8 years for brands as Tuleh, Cynthia Steffe and Kenneth Cole, before I made a career change to focus on my own illustrations and art.
2. Was the Barney’s window in NY your first major fashion project? Tell us a bit about this project! Or, tell us about your first major project that boosted your career.
My first big project as an illustrator was probably working with Lorenzo Martone and his brand Martone Cycling – we met through mutual friends and I began doing illustrations for him.
That led to us working together on a small capsule range of illustrated tees for Martone Cycling, then a pop up in NYC and finally an artwork for a window display when Martone Cycling was sold at Colette in Paris. That was a major first for me.
I’ve worked with Barneys NY a few times – first on their website doing a few illustrations stories. Those projects led me to working with Barneys New York Japan in 2015 for their holiday campaign. Another major milestone in my career – I created artwork for their holiday campaign and was invited to Tokyo for the holiday launch.
3. You’ve done so many amazing works around the world like Colette in Paris, the subways in Tokyo! I believe you obviously enjoyed them all, but is there one that you’re exceptionally proud of and would love to relive it? Why?
I’ve been lucky to have worked on some pretty amazing projects with really great brands, so it is hard to choose.
I guess though I would always cherish the projects that allowed not only my work to travel internationally but me as well!
So, my project with Barneys in Tokyo and recently doing artwork for Six Senses in Kaplankaya, Turkey was amazing. It’s been great to expose yourself and your eyes to what is out there.
4. The entire Social Media universe saw your latest illustration of the Statue of Liberty with the child. We were one of the hundreds of accounts that share it. Can you give us a taste of how the idea can about and how the creation process was? Did you expect this amazing repercussion?
It really came about from me just reacting to all the news that week – I remember it being so hard to hear all the stories of these families being separated and then seeing all those images in the news.
It was hard not to react.
I think I tried to do something that felt true to what I wanted to say, but also to my art and I think I just wanted to put something out there that was perhaps positive, a sense of hope in all of this sadness, anger and messiness.
So, it kind of just came naturally – I don’t remember exactly what the process was but putting the jacket with what I think we all wanted it to say on the statue of Liberty seemed to be my creative reply.
The reaction was pretty amazing to see – definitely all the viral attention was amazing.
But, it was much more amazing to me to have people email/message me to say thank you for doing this artwork, that it gave them a sense of hope and light in all this darkness.
That really touched me and made me realize that the work had taken on a more powerful meaning that I ever anticipated.
5. Is there any exciting upcoming project you can share with us first hand?!
A few projects in work, so stay tuned!
6. Can people find your work in NY and also to purchase online?
7. What are you +7 top secret spots in NY you love to go with friends, or for work inspiration?
- Communitea Café – A neighborhood coffee spot in LIC;
- FIT Museum – For fashion inspiration;
- Lucky Strike – A classic NYC happy hour in SoHo;
- Tuffet – A great bar in Brooklyn for cocktails and drinks;
- McNally Jackson – A great local bookstore/magazines and coffee spot in SoHo;
- Strand Bookstore – A classic and has an amazing vintage book collection;
- Blick Arts – I’m a sucker for an art store and I’m always here getting more paint or pens.
Take a look at a few cultural activities in New York, if you’re into arts, music, museums, etc!
Thank you Justin, for the amazing work, your strong voice and talent, and for sharing with us a bit of your life!
Keep up the amazing work!
Photo Credits: Justin Teodoro and Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
*Last Update on April/2020.*