When she was 18 years old, first-generation Mexican American illustrator Andrea Campos had dreams of going to art school to pursue a creative career. However, when her parents advised her to pursue a “real” career in order to support herself, the words stuck in her head. Discouraged, Campos accepted that art school may not be for her and decided to pursue a marketing career. Although she enjoyed learning about business, she often felt out of place in her profession. Slowly but surely, Campos began preparing herself for a career change; she finally pulled the trigger in January 2020 when she decided to become a freelance photographer. Two months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, essentially destroying any plans she had for the unforeseeable future.
During this time, Campos began doodling to cope with the uncertainty ahead of her; art quickly became her crutch, and missing the feeling of connection with others, she decided to start an Instagram page to share her doodles with the world. Drea’s Doodles quickly began garnering attention, and soon enough, she started reaping the benefits of her hard work. Today, Campos is a multi-talented visual artist who has worked on a variety of colorful, eclectic projects like the Smudge Wellness’ Teagan the Tiger Smudgeable, her own book 100 First Words, and more recently, Jennifer Lopez & Jimmy Fallon’s Con Pollo: A Bilingual Playtime Adventure.
Chasing Her Dreams
Although Drea’s Doodles has grown to have a following of more than 17K followers, the California-based artist has faced many hurdles on the path toward the success she has now. Latinx creatives know how difficult it can be to get their family’s approval when it comes to straying from what’s deemed stable and successful (e.g. doctor, lawyer). As first gen. Campos finds it interesting that although art and artists like Frida Kahlo are celebrated in Mexico, Latinx families tend to draw the line when their children want to pursue a career in art. Campos stopped drawing and making art in order to focus on marketing, which she believes was a disservice to herself.
“It didn’t help that my dad at one point was like, ‘I’m so proud of you. You’re working in business, this is so great,’” Campos tells HipLatina. “The way I finally kind of broke through was that I told them over the course of many years that I think eventually I’m going to do my own thing. Part of it was me prepping them, but I think part of it was also me prepping myself where it’s like, ‘if I say this enough, I can’t like back out of it’, right?” She’s since gone viral with her illustrations including one featuring Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Vice President Kamala Harris depicting the swearing in ceremony during the inauguration.
Eventually, her parents understood and supported her decision to pursue art, but they weren’t 100 percent convinced that it was a good move. Her friends and loved ones also encouraged her to chase her dreams, but after the pandemic hit, Campos said she got a lot of comments questioning whether this was the best option for her. To grow her business, she had to sacrifice several fun opportunities, like vacations, celebrations, and outings with her friends but she considers it worth it.
“Thankfully, I will say for the most part, ever since I started on this path, in particular with illustration, I think people have really seen, especially like my close friends and peers, the joy that it brings me and the joy that I share through my artwork,” Campos explains. “I think that joy has been really contagious, and people have just seen the impact that it’s had on me but also the impact that it’s having on them and other people.”
Illustrating Jennifer Lopez’s Children’s Book
Of the projects she’s worked on, Campos has been the most surprised with Con Pollo: A Bilingual Playtime Adventure, which came out this month. The bilingual children’s book that stars Pollo, a playful chicken, illustrated by Campos. She says she’s a fan of both The Tonight Show and JLo before this collaboration came along after Macmillan publishing reached out to her. When she initially got the offer, she couldn’t believe her eyes; her emotions shifted from utter shock to fear to determination to do her best.
When the book came her way, she remembers wondering whether she would be able to meet both of them, as the project came to life during the pandemic. Months later when she received the call to be on The Tonight Show, and she once again couldn’t believe where her career had taken her. The moment became extra special when Fallon gifted her a stuffed pollo.
“To see this out in the world, and just to see that they included the little details like the blush was just so cute. It just felt good to hold this; I designed this little thing,” Campos raves. “I can’t wait for it to be part of kids’ bedtime rituals and to bring joy to other people as well because it has brought me so much joy too.”
Another project that has been near and dear to her heart is her own book, 100 First Words, which comes out this month. As a bilingual kid who grew up between Mexico and the U.S., she hadn’t seen very many bilingual children’s education books that were appealing to her. Most of the bilingual children’s books she had seen used stock photos, and she wanted to create something that felt a little more personal. She decided to take the leap of faith, and she’s enjoyed being able to create something that represents her and her culture as she experienced it.
Looking back on her journey
Looking back, Campos is proud of the trajectory her career has taken. Ever since she launched Drea’s Doodles, Campos says her creativity and self-expression have flourished, and she’s become more connected with herself and her own voice. In a way, she feels as though she’s reconnected with her inner child, who she believes would be thrilled to know what her adult self is doing now.
“I think I finally feel like I’m the most creative version of myself where I’m not as afraid to take different risks and just kind of see what feels good, what doesn’t, and start developing stories of my own.”
Growing up, her mother always said to her, “lo que es tuyo, nadie te lo quita.” As someone in an industry where “no” is heard more often than “yes”, she’s kept that with her as a reminder that even if she doesn’t get a project, there’s more to come. She believes that even when something you were excited about falls through, there will be other opportunities meant for you that will be better for you.
Campos is glad that she took that shot and fully invested herself in Drea’s Doodles. Knowing how difficult it can be as a Latinx creative, she hopes that her work and story will inspire others to take their own leaps of faith.
“I think all it takes is like one person breaking that seal or making it, so to speak, to make other people believe that it’s possible for them to do too,” Campos explains. “It’s a big honor to be able to be that role in my smaller community.”
More than anything, she urges that those who want to pursue art should keep their dreams alive and continue chasing them. Pursuing art or another creative career doesn’t mean your art has to be in a museum; it just needs to make someone feel something. The most important thing of all is to keep that dream alive.
“You could do it just for yourself and draw on nights and weekends because it makes you feel good,” Campos suggests. “It gets harder when you have something in you that you ignore because over time, it’ll fester. As long as you keep that dream and that spirit alive in whatever way suits you and your lifestyle, I think that’s a win.”