Taking the initiative for Mexicanx creatives
Support network When John Picacio was awarded the artist guest of honour at last year’s Worldcon, his response was to launch a project for Mexican-American artists
Last year John Picacio was invited to be Worldcon 76’s artist guest of honour. He soon realised that he was the first Mexican-American to be offered the role. “That’s great to be the first,” says the artist, “but the disturbing question is, ‘what if I’m the last?’”
There are few Mexican-Americans – or Mexicanx – working in the US and UK sci-fi and fantasy (SFF) publishing industries. John saw his chance to inspire change, offering to sponsor two Mexicanx to attend this year’s convention, “and if I got frisky, maybe sponsor four or six myself,” he says. As soon as he posted his goal on Twitter, author John Scalzi matched two sponsorships. Within weeks, the Mexicanx Initiative was sponsoring 50 Worldcon attending memberships.
“Much of the success was due to the generosity of US, Canadian and British SFF fans,” says John. “I think many of them are disgusted by the Trump administration’s treatment of Mexicanx people, and its inhumane separations of families and children at the borders.”
But out of these negative realities, John sees only hope. The initiative has since inspired copycat projects: An LGBT-focused project saw success in this year’s Worldcon, for example.
And the seeds that were sown last year are already beginning to grow. “In the end, 42 of the 50 made it to Worldcon,” says John. “Of those, I’d say about 25 have bonded as a family. We text and email each other, create projects together, advise and push each other to be better.” Comprising a mix of artists, editors and authors, “it’s the kind of chemistry that can’t be calculated. It happens when the right people come together in the right moment. It’s our time.”
You can read more about the Mexicanx Initiative on John’s website: www.johnpicacio.com.
John Picacio says that, “Now more creators are launching initiatives promoting diversity, and I think it’s great.” “The initiative has opened my eyes to the importance of being part of a creative group with the same cultural background,” says Gary Villarreal. Artist Tehani Farr says that, “The Mexicanx Initiative has not only changed my perspective on Illustration but turned my world around.”
“In a country like Mexico, the opportunities for creatives are almost nil. Being part of a group that recognises these difficulties changes your perspective,” says illustrator Mariana Palova.