Interview with Dora Cuenca, Winner of the ‘Your Own Equinox’ design challenge with ‘Tropical Meltdown’

Interview with Dora Cuenca, Winner of the ‘Your Own Equinox’ design challenge with ‘Tropical Meltdown’


Being a designer is not an easy task. It takes skill, time, effort and a hell of a lot of hard work. We caught up with Dora Cuenca, a native Costa Rican currently exploring places away from home, who finds her catharsis through creativity, music, art, nature and good people.

Some of you might have heard of Dora, and something tells us that we’re going to be hearing a lot more from her in the near future. She is taking the world of design and illustration by storm, and doesn’t have any plan of stopping. For the last FRS design challenge, ‘Your Own Equinox’, Dora participated for the first time – and scored – with ‘Tropical Meltdown’, an artwork inspired by fall descending upon the dense and mysterious Costa Rican rainforest.

Dora received cheers from all over the world and gained a special place in the FRS shop, where her ‘Tropical Meltdown’ scarf will be available from April 2013 as part of our Spring/Summer collection. Check out the video Dora prepared for us below, where she takes us on a journey through the creative process behind her ‘Tropical Meltdown’ artwork.

Congratulations Dora! You’re one of the fantastic four winners of the ‘Your Own Equinox’ design challenge and you stood out among over 100 designs. How do you feel?

The saying in Spanish would be “estoy que no quepo de la emoción”!!! I am elated!!

How did you get started? When did you decide that design is what you wanted to do for a living? Tell us a bit about yourself.

If you ever get the chance to meet my mom, she’ll tell you I came out dancing with a paint brush in hand. I was born and raised in Costa Rica. Somehow after college I was convinced by a boy to move to NJ where we have lived for the past 3 years. My formal training is in Graphic Design, but something always pulls me away from the screen and back to the hands-on approach. I’ve found the perfect balance in Textile Design between my manual and digital tools. This contest has given me the last bit of inspiration I needed to pursue making a living from my art.

This is your first time here at FRS – what made you decide to submit to ‘Your Own Equinox’?

I was recently disheartened and asked my husband “How come nobody ever buys my art?”, so he asked back, “Have you tried selling it?” Sell my art! Yes, why didn’t I think of that?!! I’ve been admiring designs at FRS for months. This time around I didn’t think about it, I just went for it. ‘Your Own Equinox’ was something I could relate to, plus you will rarely catch me without a scarf! The changing seasons always catch me by surprise and profoundly affect my creations. The very idea of seasons is so new to my life that I find myself absorbing every detail. Fall is here!

Can you tell us a little bit about ‘Tropical Meltdown’? What was your inspiration in its creation?

Having FRS provide the colors and inspiration was the perfect foundation. I took that and added a few more images to guide me in the direction I wanted to go. The idea behind ‘Tropical Meltdown’ is fall descending upon the Costa Rican rainforest. Its dense mystery, exposed as leaves, fall from limbs, revealing the never seen bones and expansiveness in a jungle that once did not let you see beyond your breath.

What are the tools you couldn’t live without? Did you use any in the creation of ‘Tropical Meltdown’?

My Life Tools!! Through experience I’ve learned that possessing all the tools but lacking inspiration results in nothing. However, when inspiration floods in, anything can be used to create. Creative blocks are frequent for me. When they hit I move towards things that simply bring me joy or that challenge me physically and/or mentally – to grow beyond my current self. These are my Life Tools… being surrounded by good people, being in nature, climbing, playing my ukulele, doing yoga, cooking, reading, playing with my dogs etc. For ‘Tropical Meltdown’, I used my Life Tools and a bit of ink!

How do you feel about having your artwork on a scarf sold worldwide? Do you plan on submitting again?

Worldwide!!? Wait! Say that again?! I am simply happy!! Knowing that my art will complete someone’s outfit just makes me smile. I will definitely be submitting again. I want to support all the work FRS is doing to allow designers to be seen by the world. THANK YOU FRS for allowing me to keep my voice as an artist!!

What’s next?

Well 2012 has been a big year for me. I’m finally finding ways of working and living doing what I love. I have been developing my own brand behind closed doors for a while now and I am having so much fun with it. I don’t have a release date yet, but I will make sure to keep you guys in the loop!