I am Jhoanne Castro, a multimedia illustrator and designer. I have a passion for visual communication, whether that’s through illustrations, comics, videos, animations, or graphic design, to transcend boundaries and create bridges through art. My creative career is an ongoing journey sharing stories that invite conversations, to learn and grow from storytelling, as I believe stories are how we communicate and make meaningful connections.

 

Now more than ever, I feel passionate about People of Color (POC) representation. As a POC designer and illustrator, I believe that visual representation is a powerful statement. It is a statement of belonging. It is the lens in which we perceive others.

My childhood as a Filipino immigrant in the U.S. taught me the power of visual language to connect with those around me, through cartoons and movies. Art and media was how I socialized with others, but without seeing people who looked like me on the screens, I felt like an outsider. Even when I did see someone with tan skin like mine, they were almost always type-casted, and I worried that that was how everyone saw me. I felt awkward in my own skin, like I didn’t belong, like I wasn’t important — just a side character in my own story. I didn’t have a voice.

I believe this is a crucial intersection of the arts and anti-racism. Representation of POC in the media is powerful because it is the lens in which we can learn about people with different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. We learn about their struggles, listen to their histories, and hear their voices. Especially in places with little diversity, their exposure and understanding of POC are highly dependent on what they absorb through the media. Representation becomes the framework for our understanding of unfamiliar people and places.

As a designer and illustrator, I have been providing illustrations for books about POC by POC authors, and collaborating on art projects fundraising for Black Lives Matter charities and organizations. I hope to highlight these overlooked stories, give voices to those “side characters” and encourage more POC representation! Through digital media and illustration, I hope to broaden minds, expand horizons, and raise social consciousness.