It was the 2022 holiday season in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where I first met Raquel and instantly fell in love with her intricate works. It was such a honor when Raquel agreed to collaborate with Allégorie. The designs are packed of emotions and personal stories, resonating with many who struggle to find themselves, to be heard and to be understood in this ever polarizing world.
Heather, Co-Founder of Allégorie
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Raquel Busa, and I am a Queer Latinx illustrator. I like introducing myself as a Queer Latinx artist because representation is important. There is a person out there who needs to see me achieving goals and building a company.
I have always made art, but I have had a lot of self-doubt about supporting myself through my art. I come from an immigrant family that made so many sacrifices so that I could have opportunities. I thought, "Who was I to gamble with those opportunities and risk failure?"
It wasn't until I came out that I realized how important it is to tap into who you are. What makes you happy? What do you value most? That I decided to support myself through my artwork. But I don't just want to make pretty things; I want to make art that helps people heal, brings them joy, and moves them to create a more inclusive world.
Realizing my intention gave way to confidence and an understanding that failure is part of growth. My perception shifted; I was not gambling with my opportunities but carefully investing in myself.
What inspired you to start Máquina 37?
Before I started my company, I worked in Human Resources. Unfortunately, the companies I worked for did not adequately support their employees. The result was a lot of turnover. I hated firing people, especially when I felt it could have been prevented. These companies were not in line with my values and my ideas. They undervalued me, so I decided to take a chance on myself.
I got my master's in business and started working as an office manager at a private investigation firm. I enjoy helping them build administrative systems and protocols that support their growth. But I still longed to make something that was my own, so I officially established my LLC in December 2020. The firm I work for supports my endeavors and even commissions my illustrations services. It is a great place to work as my business continues to grow.
Tell us about your and the work's mission and values.
I am passionate about creating art that promotes kindness and inclusivity. My goal is to showcase pieces that celebrate diversity and encourage understanding and acceptance. I believe in treating others with respect and honesty, and I am always searching for opportunities to uplift underrepresented communities. Together, we can make the world a better place by embracing diversity and promoting positivity.
What has been your proudest moment for you as an artist?
Whenever a queer person picks up my LGBTQIA+ for Kids coloring book, gets teary-eyed, and says, "I wish I had this book when I was little," or "This is important work," it makes me proud.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced building your own company?
Time! There is never enough time. Between work, a creative small business, and a family, there aren't enough hours in the day. But I remind myself to take things one step at a time and prioritize what needs to be done. It's important to find a balance. Slowly but surely, I'll get everything done.
Where can people find your artwork?
You can purchase my art at www.maquina37.com. If you want to commission custom art or collaborate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Pride Month! Is there anything particular you'd like to share as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?
Yes, Happy Pride Month! This project was really meaningful to me, and I'm so grateful that Allegorie helped me share my story with a bigger audience. I wrote a blog post to share a personal story about my journey as a lesbian. For a long time, I struggled with repressing my sexuality, and that had a really negative impact on me growing up. It took a lot of work to accept myself and come out. But being true to myself has been so worth it. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help others who might be going through something similar.
You can read my full story here.
Anything big planned for the rest of 2023?
I was just recently hired to teach a workshop series in 2024. It's a massive opportunity for me, and I can't wait to announce the details. I am busy preparing for the workshop and focusing on creating a more expansive collection of surface pattern designs.
Explore the limited editions that Raquel created for Allegorie here.
Check out Raquel's other works here.