Larissa Stephens

  Photography by    Diana Ascarrunz

Photography by Diana Ascarrunz

Tell us about yourself. Include where you’re from, what you do, how you’re thriving and anything else everyone should know about you.

I am an illustrator, graphic designer, and muralist from Galveston, TX. I work as a Teaching Artist for Creative Action, an art education non-profit where I teach K-12 students animation, comic art, and mural painting after school. I am also learning how to roller skate!

How do you identify culturally?

I identify as a mixed race Latina—I am white and Mexican-American. I have never met my biological father, so I was raised by a single mother in a white family. I struggled a lot with my ethnic/racial identity up until my 20s.

Larissa Stephens

How does your cultural background inform your thinking and sense of being in the world? How has it informed past decisions, successes, failures?

Growing up, my identity as a mixed race person made me feel “othered”. I felt like I was not white enough, or not Mexican enough based on my experiences with racial microaggressions with some family members and kids at school. There was a time when I thought my skin was too dark, and I wanted straight hair and blue eyes. That’s not the case anymore. I began to embrace my identity more as I moved from a majority white school that I attended from kindergarten through 8th grade to a majority Latinx high school. I applied for a scholarship for Latinx students my senior year, and won. At the time, that felt so validating for me as a Mexican-American girl. In college I began to hang out in QTPOC circles and really began to feel an affinity for my Latinidad. I got an internship at Mexic-Arte Museum in the Education Department, took on leadership positions in the Multicultural Engagement Center at the University of Texas at Austin in an organization called Queer People of Color and Allies, and immersed myself in the Queer/Latinx community of Austin as much as I could.

What inspires you and who do you look up to?

Larissa Stephens

Comic books and vulnerability. One of the most eye-opening books I ever read was LOCAS by Jaime Hernandez. As a queer, brown 12 year old in a small town, that series of comics was an amazing look into what life was like in the Los Angeles punk scene for queer women of color. It gave me hope for the future, and really helped me understand where I was at in my development. It probably isn’t something I would give to a 12 year old now but I didn’t tell my mom how explicit it was when she bought it for me at Barnes & Noble way back when. Some of my other favorite comic book creators are Sophie Campbell, Daniel Clowes, and Inés Estrada. Other things that inspire me are cooking, being in nature, and candid conversations

What is your best piece of advice to anyone who may be stuggling?

There’s always someone else in the world who has experienced what you are going through. You are not as alone as you feel, and even though it’s scary, reaching out to others is so, so helpful—whether it’s in person or online. If not that, start a diary. Diary comics have gotten me through so many difficult times in my life, especially concerning death, depression, and health issues.

What are your future goals and aspirations?

I would like to create a graphic novel, paint a mural bigger than I have ever dreamed of, animate and/or storyboard a cartoon series, and learn roller skating tricks.

Share one thing people should know about the Latinx community?

We are all so different and unique, there’s no one box we can all fit into. Never feel like you are “not Latinx enough” because Latinx is such a broad and fluid term.

Larissa Stephens

What is your favorite Latinx driven project and why is it your favorite?

I hold Mexic-Arte Museum close to my heart because it was my first inside look into Mexican-American art and culture, and I felt such a sense of community with the museum staff. Events were always fun, fresh, and exciting, and it was beautiful to see an appreciation for my culture that drew so many people to visit the space.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I am most active on Instagram @Lurissu, and my portfolio site is larissastephens.com