Support Local: Bohemian Riot
March 7, 2017
I suspect that many of us–maybe more so just me–have tried to kickstart our morning routines with mindful practices: no screens before caffeine, drinking a glass of lemon water or light stretching and yoga to awaken the body. But no sooner do these good intentions fall victim to the lameness of resilient bad habits. It’s a tumultuous cycle with a low success rate. So when I talked to Arlene Delgado, graphic designer and founder of Bohemian Riot online gallery and magazine, post-yoga handstand, I was almost in awe by her ability to keep a resolution past January 2. Truthfully though, one should never be surprised that the Miami-based creative is the embodiment of her work, a constantly evolving exploration of the chaotic equilibrium of wellness and vice, just like the city she calls home.
Delgado and I talked about old Miami, her sources of inspiration and finding beauty in unexpected places.
How would you describe yourself? I know that’s one of those irritating questions to answer but how would you describe yourself in relation to your work?
I think minimalism plays a big role in my work and in the way that I work. I am sort of a minimalist in my day-to-day life, so that’s really a big part of it. I’m into wellness, so using that to fuel my creativity. I’m naturally the type of person whose life is kind of chaotic. I need to streamline and create my own wellness routine to keep me structured, which is interesting because a big part of the work that I do, the underlying theme is juxtaposition. So that’s part of my personality: I’m naturally chaotic in wanting to go drinking and smoking cigarettes but then I always have to pull it back and do my yoga and meditate. I got to chill. So it’s the duality that exists in everything and everyone. The beautiful can’t exist authentically without the beast and vice versa.
How did you get started?
I’ve been doing graphic design for seven years. I work for a branding agency, so we do web design, branding, collateral and all of that. I was finding myself wanting to create something outside of that for myself. One of my friends Christine had started this company called Two Palms, which is an online art gallery, and she saw that I had started designing my own prints and said she would love to for me to come onboard as one of the artists. So that fueled me to light a fire under my ass to produce work. So I got inspired and started to create a collection of work. I launched with her and then started my site, which was like two years ago.
Bohemian Riot is about juxtaposition. To me, Bohemian is about a state of mind and a lifestyle. It’s about travel and living life on your own terms. And riot for me is about actually living on your own terms and not sticking to conventions but doing things because you feel that’s what you’re supposed to do. It was just a combination of me having those two feelings and lifestyles that I was trying to portray.
With your work you have a print of a pair of lips, but also one with the script, “Green Juice and Vodka.” How did you come up with your aesthetic?
I work with whatever is inspiring or talking to me at the moment. At that time I was really into juicing. It was kind of at the same time as the whole wellness movement started picking up. It was interesting seeing people talk about juicing but then go out and get wasted. So that was speaking to me at that time. And also, I was exploring watercolor. So some of the pieces like the lips are watercolor pieces. Going back to style, I’m really into minimalism. So it’s about getting it simple and fun.
Do you have a piece that you’re currently working on?
Bohemian Riot is in a transitional phase right now. I’m working on creating some new prints but also thinking about expanding the products beyond print, so like shirt designs. That’s kind of my focus right now. Getting some new work onto the website, t-shirt designs, and my branding services. I’m doing a lot of freelance work and I noticed that most of my clients are from the wellness and fitness community-building space. So I really want to add that as a component to the site where entrepreneurs and start-ups can come to that space.
It varies depending on the effect I’m trying to get but I like to do a combination of doing work by hand and bring it in digitally. But some of my work is purely digital. I’m currently experimenting with mixed media. I did a collection for Nomad Tribe in Wynwood for Artist of the Month. I wanted to push my boundaries and try to create something different. So I created this collection called, “Sanctimonious”. It’s all mixed media pieces, which was purely done by hand. I found that as I do graphic design on my computer all day, the process of doing something by hand is speaking to me.
Who or what are some of your influences?
Travel is a big one for me. Putting myself out of my day to day routine and getting out of my comfort zone to experience a different culture with its texture and smell and people. That’s definitely a huge influence for me. Whenever I get back from a trip I’m like always ready to create something new. Miami has a huge influence on me too. The culture, the community, and the beach, the tropical vibe has been such an influence.
This isn’t a book, but one of the series I had created were influenced by tarot cards. So exploring the mystical aspects of life. So I pull a lot of quotes from the meaning of the cards I would derive. For example, there’s the fool card and the message is, “see the world with new eyes.” At the time it was such an impactful message for me to shift my perspective. Another one was “there’s no devil but the one you create,” and it’s directly from the devil card. I was finding all of these applicable and interesting messages from these cards that I was inspired to create that series.
It seems like your pieces or collections, if I can say, correlate with the different phases that you’re in. When we started, you mentioned how you were just doing a handstand for your yoga routine, which fits with your Zen pieces. Would that be fair to say?
Absolutely. I mentioned earlier that a lot of times what I’m experiencing at the moment, whether it be I’m falling in love or heartbroken, or I’m exploring certain lifestyles, I pull from those experiences and that’s my way of creative expression.
Flower bomb was a project that I did when I was still in school. It took a kind of life on its own, and it was actually the series that I created with the tarot cards. That project was about using design to explore karma. This was maybe five or six years ago, before Wynwood was bombarded with all these quotes. Now it’s such a normal thing, but back then it wasn’t a typical thing to do. So I was interested in creating this series of posters and designs that had positive messages that people walking down the street could walk past it. How would it affect their day? How would it make them feel? So I created an entire collection of inspiring quotes all based on the tarot cards and went out with a gas mask and flower dress to drive that theme because flower bombs are about finding beauty in unexpected places. So I was putting them up in places you weren’t really seeing art or design. It was such a beautiful process where I felt really engaged with posting them up and sometimes waiting to watch people’s reaction to them. It really took on a life of its own and it was one of the most rewarding projects that I’ve done.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
I’m born and raised in Miami, so for me, that’s a very special question. This is my home and I absolutely love everything that is happening here with the support local movement and the community engagement. This wasn’t happening when I was growing up. There was a huge lack of community. The only choices you had growing up in Miami were go clubbing or go to a house party. We didn’t have all of these cool options because the live music scene was nonexistent. So I think that fostering and supporting a local business or local vendor or artist helps light the fire; that fire of community. You know, Miami is going to be what we make of it, and if you don’t put energy into it by supporting local businesses then you’re not going to get anything out of it. So support local all the way.
Check out the Bohemian Riot collection at bohemianriot.com.
This is a piece in our series spotlighting small businesses part of our Support Local initiative.