Pop art by Devin Vasquez restores old treasures for modern use

Devin Vasquez showcases her vintage pop art depicting reinvented luggage and purses. (Courtesy of Devin Vasquez)

bright spotDevin Vasquez turns what some consider junk into new treasures.

The Albuquerque artist reinvents objects owners thought were useless, like worn suitcases and broken radios, into accessories with a vintage twist. Her pop art style is unique and vibrant, bringing a sense of joy to people who visit her stand at trade fairs.

“It’s very colorful and eye-catching. … It appeals to everyone, which I think is great,” Vasquez said.

Part of that appeal is the way Vasquez blends classic and modern eras. Although she’s only 28 years old, she has excellent skills, which is partly due to the fact that she’s been creative since an early age – the same time she started her first company. Vasquez was making handmade jewelry when she was 12, but then her art evolved into pinstripes, painting cars, and now recycled artwork.

Devin Vasquez shows off one of her radio handbags. (Courtesy of Devin Vasquez)

She says her most popular items are the luggage and purses she creates. Vasquez frequently visits garage and real estate sales, thrift and antique stores, and even spots something on a fence or something thrown over the side of a dumpster to acquire specific items that catch her eye.

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Vasquez explained that the first step in the process is to verify the object’s value online. She’s the collector in her, and after bringing home a $15 piece of furniture from a flea market, she almost found out the hard way the importance of research.

She said of the furniture: “I brought it home and almost didn’t look it up to see if it was worth anything. It was a Paul McCobb play in the ’50s or ’60s and it was worth a lot of money.”

Vasquez’s most creative process might be how she reuses old bakelite radios. As with all of her items, she makes any necessary repairs, then guts and cleans the interior of the radio before finishing the exterior with her vibrant pop art.

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The artist has always found appeal in the vintage look of the 50’s or 60’s and said “everything is so beautiful” from this classic era.

“The architecture, the clothes, the cars, everything just had its own style and I absolutely love it,” she said. “I think it’s a style that never really goes out of style.”

Her admiration of this period is partly due to the influence her father gave her as an airbrush artist. Not only did his later work on cars inspire Vasquez’s style, he also taught her how to run the industry.

Luckily, both of Vasquez’s parents are creative business owners. Her mother is a nail designer and business owner herself, so Vasquez has been gifted with the best of both the creative and business worlds.

“They’ve always been super supportive,” Vasquez said of her parents. “It’s just great to have them both there to share ideas because they also have this artist’s mindset.”

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Vasquez has found a similar camaraderie in the local art scene and says she’s grateful for the network she’s welcomed and the connections she’s made.

Devin Vasquez uses a vintage pop art style in her work. (Courtesy of Devin Vasquez)

She says she hopes to open a small studio and then eventually expand into a low-pressure retail business — more of a gathering place for artists to come together and showcase their talents.

“I feel like no matter where you go, as long as you have something that works, people will be attracted to it. I feel my work is very accessible.”

Vasquez primarily displays and sells her art at dealer fairs, but also does commissions for clients interested in her style. Her work will next be exhibited at the Women’s Art Show on October 2 at the Pete V. Domenici Education Building at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

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