We had the good fortune of connecting with Karla Pasten and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Karla, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am from Pachuca Hidalgo, in the center of Mexico, however my heart belongs to the northwest of Mexico, specifically to the city of Mazatlan and Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Since I was a child it was always my dream to study graphic design, so I was always thinking about how to improve. In high school I spent all my time drawing and dreamed of becoming an illustrator, but in the end, life led me to dream more about drawing letters.
Regarding how all this influenced my education, it was more a matter of perseverance and daring to do things. I tried to make the most out of each school project to have enough portfolio to be able to work in the best design agency in my city. Also, luckily I found my passion for drawing letters in my third year of my career, so I found any excuse to apply lettering on any design project I had, whether it was school or professional.
The desire and perseverance to be constantly improving my skills at every moment of my career is what has led me to be who I am and not only that, living in a city where lettering is practically nonexistent led me to force myself to approach people from other cities, save everything I had in my student days to take workshops and thus, open doors little by little.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Hi, I’m Karla Pasten, you can also call me Mixtli, I’m a graphic designer from Hidalgo, Mexico. I’m passionate about typography and illustration. I specialize in branding, packaging, illustration and typeface design. I am part of the Times New Woman movement, an initiative to empower Spanish-speaking women interested in letters, and I currently collaborate with the design agency Mucca from New York.
My personal work mainly seeks to concentrate what I feel in some stages of my life in the letters, I think they represent very well that journey about trying to find myself, trying from more abstract and not very ordinary forms to making a fully ornamented or illustrated piece. I think that what differentiates my work is not only the technique, in which I always experiment to the maximum, but to personally challenge myself with each one of them and give an intention, a provocation and a meaning to each piece.
Experimenting and thinking about a backstory for each one of them is what really excites me the most about the process, and more than that, the fact of executing them and seeing how the piece evolves on itself and how it ends up becoming something completely different from how it started. This is what I enjoy most about it.
Getting to where I am today has not been easy, as I have had to go through several failures to be and be where I am. If I had to define how I got here, it has all been thanks to those failures which have pushed me to keep trying and not lose sight of what you want to achieve. One of those failures was when the pandemic started, I had just moved to New York to work in an agency there, but because of the pandemic I had to return to Mexico, of course it was difficult, I felt heartbroken and felt that I was worthless, at that time in my life I also wanted to study typeface design and thinking that I could not do it and that I did not have the resources to do it was another thing that saddened me. However, this confinement also brought very good things and thanks to that I was selected for several scholarships on type design, such as the Display Type Design course by Juan Villanueva, Introduction to Modern Type Design by Graham Bradley and the Type West program of Letterform Archives. But these things don’t come by themselves, that’s the important thing to keep trying and looking for opportunities even if the odds are zero. I have always thought that it is better to try than to do nothing, I prefer to feel and think that the one who gave his maximum effort to achieve things was me and not someone else.
Of course not everything in this life have been failures, but they have been turning points in my life that have led me to great changes, to reflect what I want in my life and what I don’t, what I enjoy, what I love and let go of everything that is not.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For breakfast I would take her to eat barbacoa tacos with consomé de barbacoa from my favorite street stand. Some verde, mole or sweet tamales from across the street from the local bakery on my block, accompanied by a bolillo bread or some delicious tacos de guisos typical of the city.
After that we would go to visit the Basaltic Prisms in the town of Huasca de Ocampo and eat some trout. Another option would be to go hiking and admire the beautiful scenery from high in the forests of Mineral del Chico and prepare a carne asada in the middle of the forest and camp. Or visit the magical town of Real del Monte where the mine of “La Dificultad” is located, eat the town’s traditional Paste and buy some handicrafts.
And to finish in the evening we would have some Chalupas, a typical antojito Mexicano from my city, or we would prepare some Guajolotes, a type of fried torta with enchiladas, beans, chicken and cheese, typical from Tulancingo Hidalgo, where my grandparents live.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Of course, I have many people to thank for having been there for me along the way, from my most long-lasting friends like Paulina Castro, Karen Urrea, Amelia Rueda, to my first art directos Elias Mule and Yock Mercado. To the people who inspired me to draw letters like Gemma Román and Sindy Ethel. My friends with whom I always found a place to receive feedback Ulises Ortiz and Angel Maldonado. To Raul Urias for giving me a space to collaborate with him and encouraging me to take the leap. To all the members of Times New Woman, like Ro Hernández, Nitzchia Díaz, Sandra Morales, Monica Munguia, Aspacia Kusulas, Karla Mateos, Tamara Segura, Frida Medrano and Rebeca Anaya, not only for being collaborators in this great project but also great friends and a huge emotional support in my life. And of course to my family, who have always been there for me even when dreams are shattered.
There are so many people that I have found support from that it makes me realize how lucky I am to surround myself with people that I not only love, but for whom I have great admiration.