Artist Bianca Pastel is an underground wonder. You’ve probably never heard of her, but that’s about to change.
This Chicago-based artist and character designer works with some of the biggest names in entertainment. From movies to sports, she’s got her finger on the pulse. And as a non-binary artist of color, her voice and point of view are necessary.
Join us as we learn more about this Midwestern artist and why you’ll want to follow her career.
The Story of Bianca Pastel
Not every kid knows what they want to be when they grow up. But Bianca Pastel knew right away. At five, she let everyone know that she planned to be an artist when she grew up.
Looking at her current work, you can see the impact her childhood had on her. In fact, many 1990s cartoons, movies, Art Deco, photography, and music influence her style.
She graduated from Chicago’s Columbia College with a focus on Art Education but quickly moved in a new direction. Pastel is a hustler. Her art appears in album covers, children’s books, animation, and graphic design.
Bianca loves her hometown of Chicago, and it shows up in much of her work. From her first show in 2013 at Gallery Guichard, she’s found ways to stay relevant.
A five-year stint at Hebru Brand Studios as their Art Director helped Pastel learn to streamline her process. The creative work challenged her in new ways.
Then, in 2018, she began working on what she hopes will be her first major animation project. Binky, a mischievous young Black girl, became her focus, and it’s not hard to see why. The spunky, high-energy character practically begs for her own series.
Pastel still lives in Chicago and is hard at work charting a course for Binky and her special kind of genius.
What Inspires Bianca Pastel’s Art?
Bianca Pastel’s inspiration comes from the past, present, and future. She draws on memories of growing up in the 90s. She wants her audience to feel a sense of nostalgia when they see her work.
Cartoons and movies are particular inspirations because of her current direction with Binky. But Pastel’s drive to make space for young creators of color in the animation space motivates her daily.
Bianca also draws inspiration from other creators, as evidenced by her time at Hebru Brand Studios. Colleagues shared media, podcasts, and books with her, pushing Pastel’s art in new directions.
This part of her journey gave Bianca the confidence to use her new toolkit without overthinking things. Indeed, the joy is in the journey.
Did Bianca Pastel Partner With the Chicago Bears?
In 2020, Pastel partnered with the Chicago Bears and produced several game-day posters. As a native Chicagoan, she’s a big fan of local sports teams.
Bianca created artwork for Bears games against the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings. Images of a terrifying grizzly dominate each poster, but they also have a sense of fun about them. You can find them on her portfolio site and the All-Star Press website.
What Are Some of Bianca Pastel’s Art Pieces?
Bianca Pastel’s art frequently features images she’s created or homages to existing characters. She uses pastel colors for her palate and, especially with Binky, draws us into the world of her artwork.
Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.
Joe & His Fro
Inspired by the Disney/Pixar film Soul, Joe & His Fro playfully mash-up Joe and his feline alter ego. Using her signature pastel colors, Pastel depicts the film’s protagonist looking off into the distance at his purpose.
The cat, sitting in Joe’s hair, falls into grins, like the Cheshire Cat, with hidden knowledge. Available in Disney’s online store, the piece was part of an initiative by the entertainment company to work with young artists of color.
On Colored TV
This piece manifests Pastel’s future, at least she hopes so. Growing up, Bianca says she never saw characters like herself on TV. Putting Binky literally on a stack of televisions, Pastel’s play with words is obvious. Binky will be on TV.
The bigger word at play here is representation. For Pastel, the most important thing about being a creator of color is making sure kids like her can relate to TV characters. She’s well on her way.
Binky Inna Bottle
Released by Vertical Gallery in Chicago in September 2022, this piece is part of a small run. Pastel took prints of Binky floating in a baby bottle in a pastel sea, and hand embellished them.
Using puff paints, she added highlights to the piece. And it’s stunning! Each of the limited-run prints is unique and signed by the artist.
Where Else Can I See Bianca Pastel’s Artwork?
Like most contemporary artists, Pastel’s social media is the best place to keep up with her. She’s easy to find and regularly updates her pages. You can find Bianca Pastel on both Instagram and Tumblr.
Creating Relatable Art
Bianca Pastel represents the future of art. An artist of color who takes inspiration from the world around them, she’s poised to explode. Her focus on representation is admirable, and we can’t wait to see what happens with the Binky character.
Maybe we’ll hear about her big deal with Netflix or Amazon Prime in the coming future. Without a doubt, we know Pastel is just getting warmed up.
What’s your favorite piece from Bianca Pastel? Let us know in the comments below.
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!