Vargas combines clothing design, watercolor to create stunning photographs
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With a glue gun in one hand and a flower in the other, Coppell High School senior Giuliana Vargas applies the last part of a headpiece to her model. A watercolor of a girl with the same flowers sits on a table beside her, now brought to life.
By transforming her 2D watercolors into wearable art pieces and design elements, Vargas pulls from different forms of art to create a finished product, capturing it all in creative photographs.
The open-ended assignment came from Vargas’ 3D Art and Design class, where she was challenged to create a cohesive 10-piece portfolio with any medium of her choice.
“You do your own concentration, so you basically let free, which is what every little artist wants to do, but at the same time you don’t realize how much power you have,” Vargas said.
After a year of AP Drawing classes, the 3D assignment is a leap out of her comfort zone.
“I love doing more two-dimensional things,” Vargas said. “I really had to find a way to encompass what I love, which is fashion and watercolor. A lot of pieces that I have where I’m painting on them. For the first two pieces I made, I painted the fabric the design that I wanted, and that’s the pattern that I used, and that’s what I turned in.”
The shift in art form is not without challenges for Vargas, as she trades in her clothing sketches for a needle and thread.
“I’ve literally never sewn anything before this year,” Vargas said. “This is all new, I’m still learning. I’ve designed things before, but I never had the courage to actually make them.”
Vargas’ finished products burst with color, a retro feel, and floral designs, all which symbolize something unique to her.
“A lot of it’s my own culture,” Vargas said. “I’m from South America, I’m Peruvian, and a lot of tropical prints I’m using, because I’m doing my concentration over South American, tropical vibrant colors and pattern integrated into like 60s fashion.”
With a change in medium, Vargas was able to combine her art with another passion – people.
“I noticed a lot of current models, you don’t really see that many races and diversity,” Vargas said. “There’s a lack of that, and that kind of spoke to me. Most of my models I’m trying to use different races and religions, because that’s what I want to see personally in magazines, I want to see different body forms, because that’s what I think is beautiful.”
Vargas embraces culture in her portfolio, designing a hijab for a Muslim friend she photographed and selecting models with a variety of skin tones.
“Any skin tone can be beautiful and every race,” Vargas said. “Anyone can rock anything. That’s what I want people to know, you don’t have to be a model to be a model, you’re just beautiful, that’s how you are.”
Vargas’s passion for art started young, and continues through the classes she takes, and days she would paint until four in the morning.
“Ever since I could pick up a pencil, I would always steal my brother’s art supplies, because he was older than me,” Vargas said. “I would raid his crayon boxes, and he would get mad at me.”
Vargas’ mother Carla Vargas saw her affinity for art early on, when Giuliana would express herself by decorating the house for holidays and seasons.
As far as her most recent project, Ms. Vargas has nothing but support for her daughter’s ambition.
“It’s really interesting and creative, one of the best things that she’s done so far,” Ms. Vargas said. “It’s using everything that she’s learned so far in art.”*
CHS 3D AP Art and Design teacher Cameron Tiede has seen Giuliana grow in just a semester from trying to make a sewing machine work to turning in her first complete pieces.
“When I think of Giuliana, I think of a happy disposition, very cheery, I think the whole tropical vibe that she tries to portray through her clothing, I think that is a reflection of who she is as an individual, happy, cheerful, bright, that kind of thing,” Tiede said.
By the end of the year, Vargas will have a cohesive collection of 10 pieces to show for her hard work.
“She’s on piece number five right now, it will be interesting in a few weeks when we can line up all ten pieces and really see, this is where you started, this is where you wound up,” Teide said.
Vargas’ longtime friend and one of her models, CHS senior Aniv Thanikella, jumped at the opportunity to be a part of her project.
“She thinks really out of the box, the way she expresses her artwork is different than any other person I’ve seen,” Thanikella said. “In the beginning she plays around with it and it always ends up looking super cool. She’s really talented, so hopefully she goes far with this.
Thanikella is able to see Vargas’ work by the photos she shared on Instagram, some reaching more than 100 likes.
“Definitely the feedback is really helpful and motivating, but at the same time, it’s something that I love, and regardless or not if people gave my positive feedback I would still be doing it,” Vargas said.
Vargas plans to pursue art in college, and dreams of becoming an art director. Although she is sure to encounter new challenges, she is ready to face them like the last – with some thread and vibrant paint.
“I had so many mid-life crisis’ in the summer because I was like ‘I don’t know if I can actually earn money doing this,” Vargas said. “I was actually thinking about doing something in the medical field because I love helping people and just being around people. But then I was thinking, art is a curse and it’s a passion. At the end of the day I just want to be happy, regardless or not if there’s money.”
*Giuliana translated Ms. Vargas’ words from Spanish