Adriana Castillo, Animator and Folk Artist


What Adriana likes most about Fresno is it’s small community. ”A small community helps you develop yourself as an artist and gives you the chance to bring awareness within the community,” she says.

Adrian is looking for more creative work to do locally, aside from her full-time job as an animator. Here, she is sketching a promotional poster for the Rogue Festival. "Most of my life, I've worked for my career not for myself," she says.

Meet Adriana Castillo. Adriana works as an animator for a company in Fresno. She is responsible for making human resource videos from scratch. She also sketches and paints artwork inspired by her Mexican background.



This piece is the product of an art class Adriana took in Texas. After the class, Adriana decided to switch her goal from joining the Marines to becoming an artist.

Adriana was born in Los Angeles and moved to Mexico when she was eight-years-old. Her parents faced a difficult financial situation and decided to live closer to their families in Mexico. The move was the perfect opportunity for their children to learn more about their Mexican heritage.

Adriana struggled with being an artist in Mexico. She says she was the only artist in her neighborhood. Family members taught her how to draw fruit when she first expressed interest to draw. This only frustrated Adriana because she wanted to draw like Da Vinci and Picasso. “Before I walked,” she says, “I wanted to run.” Adriana received little support from her family once she started drawing the human body instead of still objects.

Her difficult experience as an artist in Mexico encouraged her to move to vibrant cities, such as San Francisco. In San Francisco, Adriana attended art school to become an animator. She says she always wanted to be an animator and chose San Francisco because it was home to animating studios such as Pixar. She says she was surviving in the city and was always inspired as an artist.

Adriana made her way to Fresno when she was asked by her boss to stay in Fresno for a couple of months to work on a project. She then decided to live in Fresno for the long run because its affordable living. “I asked myself, ‘Why not live comfortably for a change instead of struggling.’”

Adriana lives near work by the River Park Shopping Center. She is back to the same struggle she had while living in Mexico because there are a lack of artists in her neighborhood. She thinks she would benefit more as an artist if she moved south to the Mural District or the Tower District.



This painting was created in celebration of the centennial celebration of the Mexican Revolution. Adriana says a lot of women fought in the revolution to avenge a husband's death or to be closer to their husband.

Adriana’s art is heavily influenced by Mexican artist, Frida Kaho. Adriana says she is attracted to the boldness of Frida’s art and the personal story behind every painting.

Adriana was not easily won over by Frida’s artwork. She was first exposed to Frida when she saw her piece, “My Birth” at a museum in Mexico. She says she was struck by the gruesome detail of the painting. Adriana found Frida and her artwork to be very ugly and couldn’t understand why she painted the way she did.

Adriana saw more and more of Frida’s art after her introduction to the artist. She eventually spent a lot of time researching Frida’s life and understood why her paintings were so different. Adriana says she envied Frida’s life as an artist. She Frida lived in Mexico during a time when the country’s own art culture was starting and surrounded herself with other artists and intellectuals.

In high school, Adriana would skip classes to go to Frida and Diego Rivera’s house, called “Blue House”, to imagine herself as Frida. She decided she wanted to live the free-loving lifestyle Frida had without the husband.



This is one of Adriana's earliest piece. She attended an art school in Seattle. There she had a professor who, she says, looked very frail and sweet with a very foul mouth. Adriana was instructed to draw a nude model without looking down at her paper.

Adriana wants to leave her mark in Fresno by opening up a creative-use center. The center would house materials from scraps of yarn and fabric to discarded wood and metal. Adriana wants to salvage items that would otherwise be sent to the landfill. Artists, do-it-yourself enthusiasts and schools would be able to buy materials at a very low cost and “upcycle” the items for an art project. She understands that funding for art programs in schools are diminishing and her center would provide schools with the creative materials they need at a very low price. She would like volunteers to teach classes and educate other Fresnans about the environment through art. Adriana says her business would be a great source of that inspiration, she thinks, most residents are lacking.

Adriana anticipates on drafting a business plan so she can apply for a grant to fund her business. She wants to continue meeting more entrepreneurs in the Fresno area who can give her advice and ideas.



Adriana created this piece while attending art school. She shows how women are forced to follow the standards of beauty depicted by the media. She pasted photos of models she thought looked cold and ugly. She also drew a woman who looks different than the models, but loves her body and is happy.

Looking back at her experience in San Francisco, Adriana points out several upsides and downsides of living in Fresno.

Adriana’s favorite thing about Fresno is the small community in a big town. She really enjoys going anywhere in Fresno and running into someone she knows. In San Francisco, she felt as if she was surrounded by strangers. “A small community helps you develop yourself as an artist and gives you the chance to bring awareness within the community,” she says. Adriana also likes that Fresno is very inviting to artists. In San Francisco, Adriana says there was an artist everywhere she looked, making it very competitive to find a job as an artist.

The downside of Fresno, in Adriana’s opinion, is that it’s segregated. This makes it difficult for her to find inspiration. She agrees Fresno is very diverse, but she thinks most ethnic groups are separated into different neighborhoods. In San Francisco, she appreciated how most ethnicities lived together, no matter the district.



Adriana created this piece in her ecology psychology class. As she listened to her professor talk enthusiastically about the environment, Adriana had the song "Colors of the Wind" stuck in her head. This takes doodling in class to a whole new level.

Adriana says the most important thing to do as an artist is to never stop being an artist. “Never stop learning, developing and looking for inspiration, ” she says, “once you stop, that’s it.”

Adriana urges anyone who wants to be an artist to go out there and create. She finds it difficult to stop herself be her worst critic and thinks this is what prevents a lot of people from being successful as an artist.


Check out Adriana’s complete portfolio online. There you will see her animations, professional work and sketches.


Have a lovely day in Fresno!

Veronica Stumpf





3 Responses to “Adriana Castillo, Animator and Folk Artist”
  1. Christopher Kawaguchi says:

    This was a lovely article to read. I like how someone else feels the whole “small community in a big town” vibe in this city. I always lived in Fresno but when I do take trips outside of the valley I get this weird feeling that even though I usually say I dislike this place cause there is nothing to do, it unique in its own way. Fresno is so diverse yet so segregated at the same time. Especially in poverty lines is this evident. Maybe it’s cause we expanded outward so much instead of growing in a localized area like downtown. I love the artist and stories of people in Fresno. Fresno has no character without the people who choose to make this place home. Thanks Veronica for this story.

    • Veronica Stumpf says:

      Thank you for your input, my friend!

      San Francisco has a vibrant downtown and is suitable for all ethnicities. We clearly have a different mentality here.

      Fresno was developing at a time where people could afford to travel long distance because of improved transportation. I think that developed this behavior where the wealthy quickly packed up their stuff and moved north every time they felt the need to separate themselves from the poor or they wanted more space. This has left Fresno very big and without a true central district.

      I agree, the stories of local artists are truly fascinating. We have a very creative community, I think. Most aren’t exposed to it, however. I wouldn’t know a creative community existed in Fresno if I wasn’t raised going to ArtHop as a child or if I didn’t walk around downtown or the Tower District and meet new people.

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