Bianca Romero never expected to be an artist.
Not since her childhood, anyway. Though she was raised in New York by fashion and graphic designer parents, who encouraged her budding talent for painting and drawing, the 32-year-old Bushwick-based artist who now has murals on display in Greenpoint, Prospect Heights and various Brooklyn businesses opted to study marketing in college.
"I thought, let's be practical here," said Romero. "Art was a fun hobby, but I didn't think it would ever be more than that."
After attending school in New Hampshire, Romero returned to New York and started working in event production. But being in the city and surrounded by creative people reawakened her sleeping artistic impulses, and soon she was collaging and painting again. With her marketing connections, she started landing branded gigs. Now, in addition to her passion projects, Romero pays the bills installing murals and window displays in shops and restaurants.
"I'm kind of glad I took the route I did. I understand how to pitch a creative concept to a client, and for the most part I still have my creative freedom," Romero said.
Art and marketing aren't the only disparate worlds Romero straddles. She's half Korean and half Spanish, and has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Spain. She balances her time between curating exhibitions and taking part in them, as well as creating street art.
That eclectic sensibility carries over to her artistic style, which is a hodge-podge of techniques and mediums. Romero blends print clippings, brushed-on acrylic and spray paint into rich, collaged murals. She draws inspiration from the worlds of urban graffiti, fashion design and pop art, and thrives on mixing those influences with reckless abandon.
Often what looks like the work of a brushstroke in Romero's art, like strands of hair for example, is instead the result of her painstakingly clipping that shape from a magazine and pasting it over a painted background. The effect is layers of rich, bright-hued textures which seem to get deeper the longer you look at them.
For her piece at Underhill Murals in Prospect Heights, Romero painted an Erykah Badu album cover and wheat-pasted black-and-white newsprint into the shape of the singer's turban. For this year's Art Basel in Miami, she painted a wall which incorporated event posters for world-renowned street artist Optimist. Her wheat-paste character, a glued-on version of a graffiti artist's tag, is a girl screaming with her mouth gagged, a common sight in Romero's work.
"I like the idea of having this little face that's yelling something, and you won't hear her unless you see it," Romero said of the character, which she's pasted all over New York. "In the city, there's so much of that, because in any field there's so much stuff going on that it's hard to be heard," she added.
While Romero may still sometimes feel like she's struggling to be heard in a sea of artists, she's certainly making some noise in Brooklyn. And so far, we like what we hear.
If you'd like to see Romero's work in person, she's taking part in "The Most Illegal Art Show," on Thursday, January 31, from 6:00pm -9:00pm at 198 Allen Street.
You also can find her on Instagram @BiancaDoesNYC.