Painting the way: Brianna’s fashion


Grant Dickerson

OH, THE PLACES SHE’LL GO: Check out how senior Brianna Vasquez personalized her sneakers by scanning the ZAPPAR logo on the newspaper.

Nawal Abdul, Staff Writer

It’s no secret that the Northwood campus is chock-full of talented students by every definition of the word. This month, The Howler would like to celebrate one of these students who express their creative talents in a truly unique way: senior Brianna Vasquez.

The Howler: What do you make?

Brianna Vasquez: I customize clothing, but mainly shoes.

TH: Why is it so interesting to you?

BV: I see art not as something that benefits me as an outlet but a tool to help others. It reaches people in ways words cannot. Growing up this became one of my core values, to incorporate art in a way that could benefit others especially when I transferred school districts.

TH: What is your favorite creation?

BV: I’d have to say my favorite item would be my Calvin and Hobbes comic shoes!

TH: Why is it so important to you to make your own decor?

BV: Before attending school in Irvine, I attended a Garden Grove Elementary my whole education. Garden Grove, as most people know, is well known for being a mostly Hispanic community. I never felt like I didn’t belong. Moving to Irvine, though, really made me feel out of place. On my first day of seventh grade, although now it sounds very silly, I felt intimidated being the only Hispanic in all my classes. Although I loved meeting people from a different community, I felt uncomfortable due to a lot of people labeling, calling me names and attributing dumb stereotypes just based on my exterior appearance. So, I thought, if my words can’t explain who I really am, I’ll have to show them. I remember being super into Disney at that age, so I took my black shoes and painted the “Up” cover on them. The next day, the people who had just assumed who I was, based on my looks, were surprised. People I had not even thought knew of my existence started talking to me and asking about who I was. That created an opportunity for me to tell them about my story.

Art created an identity for me and as I kept integrating it from there on out by painting shoes, I helped others create and show off theirs too. Soon after, strangers who became my friends requested designs on their shoes ranging from music theme to cartoons to animals to book characters.

Creating art to help others tell their story is really why painting clothing, shoes and school accessories matters to me. It’s more than just the aesthetic component; it’s the idea that everyone deserves the chance to tell their story and inspiring people to tell their story or get out of their comfort zone is what makes living worthwhile.