Carlos Miranda Gradwatch

Gradwatch 2023: Carlos Miranda, Fashion Institute of Technology

Illustrator and animator Carlos Miranda was chosen as part of our annual Gradwatch showcase, where we celebrate the next generation of talent in the creative industries

It’s easy to see how Carlos Miranda’s work is instantly commissionable. Saturated in colour and filled with joyful, cartoonlike characters, the illustrator and animator’s self-initiated projects for the likes of Nike, Absolut, and Dunkin look like the real deal. Since graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York earlier this year, he’s already been commissioned to create a cover for a special edition of the Washington Post on kids’ health.

Born in Venezeula, Miranda’s background was originally in engineering, before he decided to pursue a more creative career. “Most people think FIT is only for fashion design or that I went there to study fashion illustration, but the college has much more than that,” he tells CR. “The illustration programme gave me all the tools I needed to start my illustration career and they are constantly evaluating and updating the programme to suit the students’ needs.”

Carlos Miranda Gradwatch

Getting the opportunity to live in New York as an arts student has also been priceless. “There are so many great art galleries and museums to look for inspiration, and even strolling down the streets there is so much to look at,” he says. “I think that observing, appreciating and taking advantage of all these things is key for your growth as an artist, college can’t do that for you.”

During his studies, Miranda developed a distinctive style that draws on influences ranging from pop art to architecture. “I always wanted to create colourful and somewhat joyful art,” he explains. “Although it hasn’t been my direct intention or plan to have a style, it’s easy for me to realise the art I make is a merged projection of all the things that I love, and I’m always making room for my work to evolve with the world around it.”

The artist’s time at FIT was harshly impacted by the pandemic; he felt huge pressure to monitor his own development, while the uncertainty of what the future would hold negatively impacted his mental health. There were also a number of positives that came out the experience though. “I think every experience has its positive and negative aspects and I take both things from the pandemic, because it made me grow as a human being and as an artist,” he says.

Some of Miranda’s highlights include being mentored on a project by renowned artist Kaws, which resulted in him illustrating a fictitious brand called Gummy Chips. During his junior year, he also received his first illustration assignment, creating a series of murals for ice cream brand Klondike’s 100th anniversary, which appeared in cities across the US including New York and LA.

Carlos Miranda Gradwatch

“It was challenging to work with a short deadline while juggling school projects at the same time, but I learned a lot from it, and it was rewarding to see my work around the city and seeing other people around the country taking pictures of themselves in front of the art I created,” he says.

The best piece of advice the artist received during his studies is to never let other people’s opinions determine what he creates. “Art has become a medium for expressing myself and I keep exploring who I am through the art I create,” he says.

“People’s positive and negative opinions can help us to either stay in our shell or get out of it. I think it’s important to stay grounded, follow your gut, learn to digest the positive and negative comments, and continue exploring yourself on your own terms.”

In the future, Miranda would like to expand his practice beyond illustration and animation, possibly even bringing his creations to life as physical characters in the real world. He would also like to collaborate with other artists and creatives and make his work as accessible as possible, be it through public art installations or interactive experiences.

Carlos Miranda Gradwatch

As for what challenges lie ahead, the artist is focused on working hard, looking after his mental health, and staying positive in the face of the uncertainty around developments such as AI. “There is a lot of noise out there and worries about artificial intelligence and the danger it poses to us artists and to our civilisation in general,” he says.

“The world will keep evolving for good or bad (unfortunately), and it can be challenging to stay positive during these times. One thing for certain is that I will keep creating the same unique work I’ve been creating by myself, and that can’t be replaced by anything else.”