Astral Art: the venture created by a young painter from Alajuela dedicated to ‘pop art’

Melissa Murillo Bolaños participated in the program Trans-Formate of the Aliarse Foundation in the previous year, he applied what he had learned and began to see results in his venture astral art, with which he sells his pictures and paintings, murals, digital illustrations and portraits of pop figures and pets.

“Now more people come to quote, I receive more applications and I have increased sales,” said Melissa, who is 22 years old and lives in Alajuela, in the Jocote Pact, near Barrio San José and the Cacsa rice farm.

He started in 2019. He learned to paint from his father, José Manuel. At school, first at the Liceo del Barrio San José and then at the Calufa Professional Technical Night School, in Canoas, Melissa did not continue with painting. There she graduated as an executive for service centers.

He returned to art in the courses offered by the Alajuela House of Culture in 2018. Already at that time he lived alone with his mother, Kattia Bolaños, and began decorating and preparing children’s parties, taking advantage of his artistic skills. Until the confinement by COVID-19 arrived in March 2020. He switched to paintings and pictures.

A few weeks later, he received an order to make a painting with one of the characters from the animated series. The Simpson. The result was that she began to receive other orders through social networks, as customers recommended her. Some jobs led her to learn other techniques, for which she relied on YouTube or asked José Manuel.

I wanted to get training, I looked at the free courses at UCR and they recommended Trans-Formate. Now I receive more messages, more orders and I sell more.

Melissa Murillo

Most of the applications are for figures or characters from the so-called popular culture, so their works are part of what is called the pop art, a current that emerged in the fifties of the previous century and that had the American Andy Warhol as one of its greatest exponents on a global level. Today the pop art goes hand in hand with video games, anime, popular literature and cinema, to include media and political figures, mass-produced objects, comic strips, posters, packaging and all kinds of symbolic images (traffic signs, collages, etc.).

Melissa makes and sells pictures and paintings on canvas in different techniques: acrylics, oil for portraits, neon paint (used with black or UV light, which is illuminated by some light) and photoluminescent paint (captures natural or artificial light that radiates it). in the dark). Another option is the foil (metallized sheets that adhere to the canvas with a special glue). “It’s a great one for jewelry finishes, among others,” explained Melissa.

In 2021, the month with the most orders, he made four large paintings or paintings (1 meter X 70 centimeters) and eight small ones (15 X 20, 30 X 40 or 40 X 50 centimeters, for example).

At the beginning of 2021, when her baby was one year old, Melissa began to investigate the free courses at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) with the aim of training.

The manager recommended the program Trans-Formate. This is an initiative in which, in addition to the Fundación Aliarse and the UCR, the Network of Private Companies for Entrepreneurship (including HP Inc.), the Ministries of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC) and of Science, Innovation , Technology and Telecommunications (Micitt) and the Mixed Institute of Social Assistance (IMAS).

In Trans-Formate, which began in June 2020, more than 650 companies have participated in digital change and excellence training courses through the HP Life platform. More than 70% of SMEs report that —with the knowledge acquired— sales improved.

The participants are mainly women with businesses in services and commerce. It has also included SMEs from the agricultural, artistic and tourism sectors. As it is a virtual course, it reaches SMEs from all over the country. Currently, and until January 31, the call for the 2022 program is open.

The initiative began in 2016 with the Connected Homes program of the National Telecommunications Fund (Fonatel). The following year a pilot of basic computer courses was started and in 2018 the number of students increased. With the pandemic, he focused the efforts, content, and tools of the platform on entrepreneurship for an intensive four-month training that culminates in a business plan.

I want to have my place to attend orders and also offer my own creations, study architecture and continue painting.

Melissa Murillo

Melissa started running virtual courses in finance, marketing, social development, and even sustainability. The classes were one day a week between 6 and 9 pm With what he had learned, he began to apply changes.

For example, I used to pack pictures and paintings using a lot of plastic. Now he does it with craft paper and cardboard protection for the edges, which are recyclable materials.

The main outcome of the course was in finance. Mellissa learned how to determine costs and utility, she started using the Excel spreadsheet, she learned about free applications on the Internet for digital marketing, she also made a work plan to organize herself, she hired an accountant and she registered in the simplified system, which allows you to deliver the electronic invoice only to buyers who request it.

On top of that, he learned to create an identity for his brand, to identify his client well, to establish a strategy, to know how and to whom to direct digital advertising and to generate value on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok, as well as to evaluate the service.

The results began to be produced: the messages from current and potential clients increased through the different digital channels, there are more people who ask for quotes, and, above all, they receive more requests (up to 30 per month) and sales increased. In addition, it continues to plan innovations.

The year 2022 she started with different projects. In January, he introduced a new technique, called transfer, which allows painting in an artisanal way and maintaining a background that qualifies as impeccable.

For next May it will also be in the Comic Con Costa Rica, a regional pop culture event. “I’m already preparing myself,” says Melissa.

In his long-term plan, he hopes to establish himself in a local, continue attending orders and offering his own creations, study architecture and continue painting.

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