Artist Series: Scarlett Baily

Artist Scarlett Bailey in studio

Scarlett Baily is a Chicana muralist, painter, and illustrator with studios in Mexico City, and San Diego, CA. Her work explores and celebrates heritage and popular culture, easily identified by long sinuous lines and gestural minimalism with pops of color. Scarlett was one of the first artists we worked with and is the artist behind one of our most popular staples, the Baldwin illustration. Our team asked Scarlett a few questions about her process and lifestyle.

A new color way of the Baldwin crewneck will available on Wednesday, September 23 @ 12pm EST. 

More information about Scarlett Baily available here

Photos courtesy of Scarlett unless noted.

Scarlett painting a mural

How would you describe your artistic style?

It all began with Marvin the Martian and The Little Mermaid. I spent hours as a kid trying to copy the cartoons that hypnotized me from my boxy TV set in the ’90s. There was one big problem- these illustrations lacked the sights and sounds of my environment. That prompted me to invent characters and draw my universe. My art became an expression of observations of my outer world and how they resonate with my inner world. I like to tackle themes of identity and belonging while celebrating people and stories that have been left out of the history books. Since the content of my work introduces unfamiliar narratives, I find it effective to maintain this commercial and nostalgic style. My work has a graphic linear quality yet is whimsical and inviting. I work with pencil, ink, and paper. Today, Japanese Edo period murals, 1950’s advertising, fashion croquis, Aztec Manuscripts, El Chango Cabral, and Aurora Reyes are huge stylistic inspirations for me.

What would your dream project look like?

I dream of painting a giant mural in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, celebrating the vibrant characters of this Bordertown and the birthplace of my grandmother. This city has become synonymous with insecurity, violence, and femicides. While it is essential to acknowledge this harsh reality, it is still home to many people who have thrived against the odds. Suppose we can shift the narrative and recognize these stories of resilience. In that case, we can create empathy, empower, and genuinely manifest change.

Scarlett painting a mural

First thing you’d grab in a fire?

Here in Mexico City, we are always thinking about this, except here we have earthquakes. We just had a big one last night! I already have a grab bag ready with water, power bars, a hard drive, documents, and spare keys. So I would grab that and my dog Pantera … and run for my life!

A favorite plant?

Saguaro and nopales. These plants are pure nostalgia for me. My parents were relatively young when they had me, so I spent a lot of my childhood with my grandparents. We regularly road-tripped from San Diego to El Paso, and I spent that 12-hour drive surveying the cacti on the highway- there was no other way to pass the time. Soon I was enchanted by them; each one is entirely unique- like a snowflake… but in the desert! These plants that thrive in such an arid region amaze me. Of course, arriving at Abuelita's house was always magic- her yard to this day is full of cactus and reptiles seeking shade below- and I still like to play there.

Beyond the Pink Tide book

Photo by @prattfineart.

We Are Here book

Photo by @wanderingbookseller.

A few books for the coffee table?

Oh, where to begin here! My studio is covered with books! Once I finished studying art history, I was so delighted to have the time to read for pleasure. I deep dive into art theory books, biographies, and Mexican Mythology. This is so hard to narrow down, so I will just tell you what is on my coffee table currently: Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Political Undercurrents in the Americas by Macarena Gómez Barris, Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis, Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, We are Here, Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art Word by Jasmin Hernandez. And while we are on the topic of books, for all you artists artist out there, these books made my career as an artist possible: Art, Money, Success by Maria Brophy, The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.

What are your favorite things about your neighborhood?

My studio is located in Mexico City, in the historically beatnik neighborhood of La Tabacalera. The building that houses my studio was built in 1890. A few blocks away from my art oasis, you can stumble onto the tomb of the Mexican Revolutionary, Poncho Villa. But wait... there is more! Che Guevarra and Fidel Castro planned the Cuban Revolution around the corner from my favorite neighborhood cantina, Los 7 Caudillos. The scent of steaming tamales wakes you in the morning and fades into the buzz of the street. The knife sharpener whistles, and Perez Prado plays on repeat from the Bluetooth speaker of the invariably well-dressed popcorn and cigarette vendor. My neighborhood feels like one of the last standing pockets that lies beyond globalization's reach.

Bone marrow tacos
Your go-to dish…

First books, now food! How to choose! Fine! Bone marrow tacos served on a fresh corn tortilla, and a spritz of zesty lime with a wild Cuixe mezcal to wash it down = heaven on earth. My ultimate comfort food here in Mexico City is a concha, a fluffy sweet bread topped with a sugary, crunchy, buttery crust… that with a cafe con leche is instant bliss. Follow that up with enfrijoladas, which are enchiladas in a bean sauce covered in chorizo and sprinkled with fresh cheese... and no evil in the world exists.

Recipe book or a vessel to the ancestors?

There is absolutely nothing better than my Abuelita Graciela Zamora’s handmade flour tortillas… they hug your soul. I wish I could share the recipe… but she has not even shared that with me!
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