Taking the art world by storm, an emerging artist creates bold, colorful murals diverging from traditional southwest style. Her paint brushes have graced walls across the world including Mexico, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and others. Identifying as a nature worshipper, Celeste Byers’ artwork largely centers around the metaphysical, while encompassing humanitarian and environmental issues.
“[My artwork] is the one thing I’ve felt passionate about my entire life,” said 28-year-old Byers. “I am trying to communicate through my art that there is magic beyond what I can see.”
Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Byers is not the typical “starving artist”. Graduating with a BFA from Art Center College of Design in 2012, she jumped straight into the art world. Almost immediately, she was hired by a major news publication. “I was pretty lucky and one of my first jobs out of college was working for the New York Times doing illustrations for the Op-Ed section!” Byers said.
But Byers’ murals are what brought her international attention. Her unique usage of bold color schemes in combination with detail didn’t go unnoticed. For Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary, Warner Bros. asked Byers to design a mural of the superhero at Comic-Con 2016.
“Her use of vibrant and rich colors is unlike I’ve seen before,” said Rocio Salinas Almeida, a graphic designer and El Paso local.
Her most recent work, Nopales in Love, a mural featuring two cacti kissing, is located at the SANDI Apartment Complex in El Paso, TX. This work highlights her creative process.
“I always try to make my subject matter relevant to the location I’m painting,” Byers said. “The idea for that mural [Nopales in Love] took a few hours to come up with. First I wanted to paint straight up portraits, then I got the idea to paint cactus people portraits, then that evolved to wanting to make the cactus people kissing.”
Nopales in Love centers around the love found in nature. “[Nopales in Love] is about everything and everyone,” Byers said. “All people, all animals have this need to find love. So I made the cacti into people, expressing everything’s need to reproduce.”
Her artwork begins with a “sketch” which usually incorporates Photoshop. “I use these ‘sketches’ to paint from as well as show my client so they can understand my idea,” Byers said. After the sketch is completed, Byers prepares and then begins to paint.
“I’ve recently enjoyed spending around 10 days at a mural location and working on the wall,” Byers said. “Before that, I was usually painting murals in about 5 days but I was always getting sick after painting for 12-14 hours a day every day. I realized I can enjoy the location and have better health if I give myself more time to finish and paint for less time every day.”
Byers’ murals can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to complete. Nopales in Love took her eight days to finish.
But Byers doesn’t always like to take her time with her work. “I like to make artwork about things I think are important,” Byers said.
Her partnership with PangeaSeed Foundation has been one such avenue. PangeaSeed is an international non-profit organization which seeks to create environmental change for oceans through “ARTivism,” education and science.
“I think the conservation of nature is extremely important in our day in age,” Byers said. “[Working with PangeaSeed] has taught me that art is a powerful medium for communicating ideas about activism and social commentary.”
In May, Byers live-painted a mural seeking to highlight glamorized drug usage and its environmental damage at Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso, TX.
“I included a parrot skull in my mural because… although the aerial fumigation programs are targeted at killing coca plants, they end up wiping out vast amounts of rainforest and the plants and animals that live within them,” Byers said. “The ribcage and human skeleton hand serve as a reminder of the people who have lost their lives in this violent industry.”
Check out Celeste Byers’ website for more information and to see her work!