Devin Vasquez’s pop art restores old treasures for modern use

Devin Vasquez presents her vintage pop art, which includes repurposed luggage and purses. (Courtesy of Devin Vasquez)

bright spotDevin Vasquez turns what some consider trash into repurposed treasures.

The Albuquerque artist reinvents items that owners have deemed useless, such as worn-out luggage and broken radios, into vintage-inspired accessories. Her pop art style is unique and vibrant, bringing a sense of joy to people who visit her booth at vendor shows.

“It’s very colorful and impressive. … It appeals to everybody, which I think is great,” Vasquez said.

Part of that appeal is the way Vasquez blends classic and modern eras. Although only 28 years old, she has a top-notch skill set, and that’s partly because she’s been creating since her early teens – the same time she started her first business. Vasquez started making handmade jewelry at age 12, but then her art evolved into stripes, car painting, and now recycled art.

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

She says her most popular items are the luggage and purses she creates. Vasquez will frequent garage and estate stores, thrift and antique stores, and even spot something on top of a fence or tossed to the side of a dumpster to purchase certain items that catch her eye.

Vasquez explained that the first step in the process is to check the item’s value online. That’s the collector in her, and after bringing home a $15 piece of furniture from a garage sale, she almost found out the hard way about the importance of research.

He said of the furniture, “I took it home and hardly looked at it to see if it was worth anything. It was a piece that Paul McCobb made in the 50s or 60s and it was worth a lot of money.”

Vasquez’s most creative process might be how she repurposes old Bakelite radios. As with all her items, she makes the necessary repairs and then guts and cleans the inside of the radio before finishing the outside with her vibrant pop art.

The artist has always found appeal in the vintage look from the 50s or 60s, saying “everything is so beautiful” from that classic era.

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

Her admiration for the time period is partly due to the influence her father gave her as an airbrush artist. Not only did his eventual work on cars inspire Vasquez’s style, but he also taught her about industry management.

Fortunately, both of Vasquez’s parents are creative business owners. Her mother is a nail technician and business owner herself, so Vasquez was 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 both of them there to bounce ideas off of because they also have that artist mentality.”

Vasquez has found similar camaraderie in the local art community, saying she’s grateful for the network that’s welcomed her and the connections she’s made.

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

He says he hopes to open a small studio and then expand into a low-pressure retail store – more of a hangout where artists can come to connect and showcase their talents.

“I feel like wherever you go, as long as you have something that works, people will gravitate towards it. I feel that my work is very accessible.”

Vasquez displays and sells her art primarily at vendor shows, but also commissions patrons interested in her style. Her work will then be exhibited at The Women’s Art Show on October 2nd at the Pete V. Domenici Education Building located at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

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