We asked Diego (Daydreamboy) eleven questions to get to know him better. Diego works closely with Shy Natives as an artist, stylist and photographer, and we love him so much.
1.) Where did you get your name Daydreamboy?
it wasn’t the first instagram handle i had. my first one was just my full name, and then i had a few others before daydreamboy just came to me. i remember i was a middle school teacher at the time and i was going through a huge transition in my life, daydreamboy sort of became a way for me to honor the aspects of myself i have held onto and kept sacred since childhood, these really important facets of my overall being, my spirit. i was always daydreaming and was always so full of wonder. i was the kid that would chew on my shirt and stim all day just thinking about creatures and colors and cute things and stories and magic. and that is true to me to this day. i have synaesthesia, so i will become what i can only describe as feeling like an open channel for these beautifully intricate and intense sensations. and that’s daydreamboy. it’s not necessarily meant to be gendered, but more of a poetic play on daydream and dream boy. simultaneously a nascent spirit and an ancient spirit.
2.) What are three words that describe you?
tortoise, gonzo, fig. i guess those are more like three spirits or essences, but words are really just references to those latent spiritual aspects or qualities of the thing they are meant to signify. i have always been connected to turtles/tortoises in so many ways, gonzo is a goofy ass cute ass confident but silly freak, and figs are inverted flowers that bloom inward, and they in turn remind us to always bloom inward and remember that our true beauty and divinity lies within us.
3.) Where did you grow up and can you tell us about your childhood?
i grew up just outside of las cruces, new mexico. i grew up in a trailer a short walk away from the rio grande and la llorona park. my neighborhood was mostly gangsters and cholos/cholas but a very specific type of cholo that also had an emo side and also had a cowboy side. if that even makes sense. it was a farming community so it just came with the territory. i remember my best friend and neighbor growing up was a surreño but we would also wear “girl” jeans and listen to MCR together and then also jam some lil cuete and stuff like that. i was the gonzo of the neighborhood. i was just different. i was never quite cholo like the rest of the hood. i had so much femininity to my being as well as a cute and soft type of masculinity that definitely made me stand out amongst my peers. but they were still all my friends. and i know to this day they’d have my back no matter what. for the most part though i’ve always just done my own thing and kept to myself. and my childhood was full of beauty. i was that kid who was obsessed with gnomes and fairies and mythology (still am). i was always aware of the magic in the world (again, still am :>)
4.) I see you make color pencil drawings in addition to your beautiful illustrations for Shy Natives. What inspires your artwork?
feeling and mythology and magic and light. there are no words for some of the amazing magical feelings and connections that we can experience, but the deep loving spirits of colors can bring us so close to understanding and being fully within these divine mysteries and serendipities. thematically my work reflects the beauty i see in people and culture. but beyond that i want my work to be more of an empathetic offering than a rhetorical one. i’m not really a political artist. and that’s okay. some artists are political artists, that utilize on rhetoric, and some are emotional artists, that channel empathy. and both are equally important. and they definitely aren’t mutually exclusive either. all artists use a bit of both. like anything it’s a spectrum. and also like anything you gotta be honest about where you fall on a spectrum. trusting that your gift is what it’s supposed to be is important for artists because if you try to fit yourself into a different box it can become spurious and lose authenticity. i make art to hold people emotionally. i want it to feel like a big hug of feeling. and i want individual people to be able to feel connected through beauty with me and with other people. when it comes to my portrait work it’s really about the divine relationship the person has with light. and with color. i think about it often. how we catch light, how it loves us, how it is worn by us, how it’s ever-changing. and how our features play a big part in that dance. colors are old spirits. each one comes from a very ancient place. and they run through us. artists are bringers of reconciliation and they do so by being connected to these spiritual aspects of these universals that surround us: color, sound, shape, light, etc. letting divinity run through you and arranging it based on your sacred intuition.
5.) I have read your poems on @daydreamboy instagram. They are amazing. Can you please tell us about your poetry? What inspires you / When did you start writing?
my poems are similar to my art practice in that they are really intuited and very much an empathetic offering. like my visual work, i wrote poems that are meant to make individual people feel held and connected to someone who can feel with them. my writing is a big payer of love that says “i’m here with you and i’m feeling with you.” because no matter what’s going on in the grand scheme of things, the big picture, individual peoples feelings still matter. and no matter how connected to a community somebody is their own individual experience is still something that’s valid. because identities are so nuanced and even within a cohesive community not everyone will have the same identity or experience. there is a fluidity to it all. and to be held by something, even sometimes, in a big fluid world is important. my writing is inspired by this good sort of loneliness i live with. i’m not a very social person and i spend a lot of time alone. which allows so much pure feeling to love through me. as y’all know the word inspire at its root means to breathe. and breathing is this really ancient tension/release relationship that is as old as the universe itself. when i’m inspired i see it as being an observer to the world, my feelings like lungs that take in these observations and experiences and then allow them to be moved through me and out in a new way. that sounds really weird lol but what i’m trying to say is that you gotta remember it’s you that’s doing the breathing for you. in all ways. and everything you feel is important to allow through you. and in some ways i’m even just impaired by inspiration itself. if inspiration is just breathing, then there really isn’t much difference between creating and living. i’ve been writing for a long time, and it’s always felt like a really good exhale.
6.) Besides drawing, designing, and writing, what else does Daydreamboy like to do in his free time?
most people don’t know this about me but i actually love to cook and i cook pretty much every meal i eat. i am also a very high energy person so i love moving around or running or ever just playing. i’m not very good at being sedentary. and like i mentioned, i spend a lot of time by myself. so i’ll go run some sprints at the track, go on a walk and get some sun, or even just set aside some time to daydream and get lost in pretty thought. i don’t go out much, and i don’t drink so when i’m not making art i’m just taking good care of myself.
7.) What is the biggest life lesson you have learned thus far?
that its okay to feel good about yourself and do things that are good for you. people want to make others feel guilty and wrong for feeling good and doing the best for themselves and the ones they hold close or for even just existing as they are. but when you genuinely feel good about yourself you stop caring if they feel that way about you or not. or maybe caring is the wrong word, you stop ALLOWING them to make you feel like you gotta make space for their bitterness and judgment. healing a community/family starts with setting a new trend as an individual. if you wanna give all your sheep a bath you can’t do it by jumping in the mud with them. there should never be any guilt in doing the best for you.
8.) What are your top priorities in life?
softness, sacredness, sweetness, devotion, authenticity, giving love, giving pleasure, giving solace, bringing healing, health, inspiring health, being disciplined, and living like a tortoise
9.) What is the story with the bandanas you rock? They seem to be part of your signature look.
i started wearing them back in middle school. in rarámuri it’s called a koyera. and it’s as much spiritual as it is fashionable as it is functional. which is something i love about indigenous ways, those three things aren’t separate. life is an act of prayer. a lifelong commitment to always acknowledging your inherent sacredness.
10.) Your skin glows and you seem so confident and loving. Please tell us your secrets for glowing skin and happiness.
you’re so sweet️ ♥ i am fortunate to be a very stress free person. perhaps i don’t have much of a stress response at this point in my life but i’ll rarely ever get upset or stressed. and i am also very disciplined. it’s something i absolutely love about myself. discipline can have negative connotations so maybe that isn’t even the right word, because for me it is absolute total pleasure and done with autonomous conscious will. but i mean discipline in the sense that i won’t willingly allow anything unhealthy to interrupt my self love. i take the best care of myself. i love myself completely and as an act of love i only do what’s best for me, my spirit and my body, and what will be the healthiest for me. and in turn it’s also an act of love for the people around me because i know i will always be the healthiest and best loving for them too. if you’re not your best you also can’t be the best for the ones you love. so i make it a point to live in that kind of prayer of devotion to loving myself and being the best good love. big love. healthy love. soft sweet sacred love. and also, i drink a lot of alkaline spring water.
11.) What makes you, you in your body and journey?
when i first read this question i didn’t think it would end up being the most difficult to answer. but i don’t even know where to begin! when it comes to aspects of body i literally like to think about it geologically. the minerals i am made of. how they are imbued with knowledge from the land. how they have a romance with the moon. and how they speak through us, guide us. we just gotta listen. i love all the ancient spirits i come from, from all across the world. i am native, but i am also irish, and i also have black ancestry from the congo as well as arabic ancestry. and i love thinking about these minerals coming together. kinda like how the ocean and the rain move sand and minerals around and rearrange them in new ways. kinda like geological strata or crystals. minerals come together and form new love from old love. and it keeps on going. because like i said earlier, no matter how connected someone is to a community everyone within that community is still different with their own story. all aspects of identity are a spectrum including identity itself. and maybe to keep the theme going i’ll say identity is a strata of beauty coming together. what makes me who i am is a combination all of the exponential circumstances that brought my minerals together along with the spiritual intention i imbue my conscious will with. i am what i listen to from within. a fig blooming inward.