Lia Sued Cabral's colourful cartoon illustrations radiate joy and magic
The Dominican Republic-based artist talks us through finding her artistic purpose, her time spent in New York, and the joys of seeing her illustrations come to life.
- Joey Levenson
- 17 June 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Cartoonish, colourful, and oftentimes magical, illustrator Lia Sued Cabral’s work exists in a distinct world of its own. Across every inch of the frame incredible anthropomorphic figures come to life in vivid detail. Lia attributes this style to growing up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where she spent her childhood obsessively drawing and watching old Disney cartoons such as Thru the Mirror. Finding her way into art, however, was a process which came later. “After graduating high school I took a year off in which I made a lot of friends who were really active in the art scene in Santo Domingo,” she tells It’s Nice That. “Taking that year off was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made.” From her time mingling in the Dominican art scene, Lia knew she wanted to become an artist. After later receiving a full scholarship to Parsons in New York, she was on her way to getting a degree in illustration. “It took getting to Parsons in New York and taking a lot of illustration classes and meeting people involved in that area to help me realise illustration was what I was meant to do.” Allowing such time for her creativity to breathe and take a life of its own certainly paid off, as Lia’s art today is something of a fully-realised, up-and-coming artist making exciting moves in the world of illustration.
Lia’s eye-catching and detail orientated style doesn’t come without its hard labour, however. Her fanciful and maximalist creations often start with a sketch, but Lia confesses to us the process is “the hardest part, especially if it’s for a personal project.” That’s easy to see in her art, as a lot of it seems so expansive that we have no idea where Lia could begin with the concept. “I take a lot of those little sketchbook drawings and rearrange them in different ways on photoshop until I have something I'm happy with.” This hard – yet rewarding – process is why Lia enjoys working with collaborations and clients so much. “They always give you something to go off,” she says in admiration. But, for Lia, it’s also about surrounding herself with as many voices and as much feedback as possible. “I actually like to keep my friends involved from early on in the process,” she says. “I found it really hard to go from having so many great teachers giving me feedback and ideas for four years to being basically alone in the process of creating.”
Lately, Lia was approached by musician Celisse to design a Monterey pedal for Keeley Electronics’ artist series. “It’s one of my favourite projects that I’ve worked on so far,” she tells us. “The Monterey pedal is inspired by the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, so Celisse wanted him to be a part of the illustration for the pedal somehow, and combined with other groovy colourful elements to reflect the time and its characteristic sound.” The finished product is certainly an incredible one-of-a-kind artefact, with motifs and flowers inspired by the psychedelic art of Peter Max inhabiting the entire pedal. It was seeing her art in physical form which really made Lia realise how much of an incredible achievement she had accomplished with Celisse and Keeley Electronics. “I loved working with them both, because of how involved I felt with the whole production process.” But, Lia is also quick to note that one of the best parts of the whole process was seeing that “the day the pedal went on sale it was posted all over the place on the internet, and John Mayer – a hero of mine from my tween years – had liked a post about the pedal on Instagram!”
So far, Lia’s career has been taking off. Her art clearly resonates with many people and clients. “I just hope it keeps going that way,” Lia says. Right now, she’s teaching digital illustration at her university in Dominican Republic, but hopes to return to New York again someday soon. Whilst more music projects and physical collaborations are something Lia is keen on, she tells us mostly she “wants to get back to making prints and applying to illustration fairs, taking classes on ceramics and tufting, seeing friends and enjoying everything New York has to offer to me as an artist and as a person.”
Lia Sued C.: Queer Beer Fest (Copyright © Lia Sued C., 2021)