Artist Sonia Lazo Talks How to Use Social Media to Launch Your Career
Sonia Lazo is a talented illustrator from El Salvador who’s been using their skills, talents, and voice to be vocal about issues that matter to today’s women and queer community. Their career started seven years ago when they discovered their passion for illustration, and their determination, consistency, and hard work paid off, allowing them to showcase their work around the world. Recently, Lazo also created a successful Etsy shop that includes clothing and merch while sharing a positive and inclusive message to their audience.
We talked to Sonia Lazo about how they turned a hobby into a fulltime job thanks to social media and got tips on how to succeed in the art world.
How did you start your career as an illustrator?
Sonia Lazo: I started doing artisan product design because when I finished high school but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my career. I liked clothing and fashion, and back then that was closest to fashion design. While studying and sharing classes with people that studied graphic design, I learned that illustration was a thing. Still, I continued to study two years of artisan product design and then switched to graphic design since it was something I really loved. After I changed careers, I started drawing every day and sharing it on Instagram. I started believing in myself because at first, I thought I wasn’t talented enough for this. Then little by little, my account started growing until it became something that could lead me to work opportunities.
Why did you decide to use your art as your voice to create social impact?
At first, I was doing it for myself to express how I was feeling. It was like therapy for me and I think that was the reason people started connecting with me and my message. After realizing the power of Instagram and the fact that people were relating to me and the way I think, I decided to become vocal about issues I’m interested in, like feminism, tolerance, gender identity, the queer community, and more. I think that if I have the possibility to create more awareness about these topics, I have to use it to educate and empower more people.
What do you enjoy the most about creating art?
The process of actually creating it. First, an idea comes to your mind and then you define how you want to share that message. Then comes the fun part, drawing, and which is the most entertaining since it doesn’t feel like it’s a job. However, sometimes it’s frustrating to have artist block. After all these years I decided, however, to make drawing a habit so it has become easier to deal with these blocks.
How was the experience of getting your work into international outlets?
It was a big surprise! When I started on Instagram, I didn’t expect to reach many people, so the support I’ve been getting through the years had been a big surprise in my life. People that support me are mostly from El Salvador and the U.S. When it comes to jobs, El Salvador doesn’t have as many opportunities in these areas compared to other countries, so if it wasn’t for my international audience, I wouldn’t be able to make this my fulltime job.
What impact has COVID-19 had on you?
At first, there was a lot of uncertainty of “what am I going to do?” Luckily, at the beginning of this year, I found new ways to produce art through clothing during which I didn’t need to be close to my work the whole time. One week before the lockdown, I was traveling to see all these production houses. I already had the clothing samples so when I came back to my country, I decided to launch. It was scary since all of us were in quarantine, I thought it wasn’t the right time for people to be buying this type of product, but in the end, it was the complete opposite. I had a good response and so far, everything has been going well.
Is it hard for a queer person to get their name out there on the art industry?
I feel like social media has made everything easier. Also, my target has helped me a lot. My main target definitely is not cis-gender men, and once you know who you are talking to, it’s a lot easier to connect with them. I’m not sure how many people in the art industry know my name, but I know there are a lot of people with whom I share interests and opinions. We’re connected through Instagram.
Has social media impacted you as an artist? If so how?
Yes! If it wasn’t for Instagram, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thanks to that, I was able to reach an international target, I feel like in El Salvador is more complicated to put your name out there than in other places.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Practice! If you already know what you like and what do you want to achieve, you have to do it constantly. If you can do it every day, do it. Also, do it for yourself. That makes a huge difference. Stay authentic and true to yourself. Finally, be patient, especially now. I think that with social media, everyone expects to grow fast, but it takes a lot of time. For years, I created a daily post and that kept me consistent and active. I feel like when you do something you love, great things and opportunities come to your life.
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