By: Kyle Whitecotton
Fort Worth fine artist Allison Castillo finds inspiration for new work everywhere, from vibrantly colored Mexican handcrafts to translucent blue water swirling in the bath she takes after a long day. It’s a good thing, too, because Castillo’s art has never been in greater demand.
From her home studio in the city’s Colonial neighborhood, Castillo creates vibrant, abstract paintings for private clients that have ranged from local interior designers to a boutique hotel in New York City. But her most popular pieces by far – the ones popping up across social media platforms and flying off the shelves of local boutiques – are her “Texas Forever” printed scarves.
Texas Forever Otomi Inspired Scarf
At first glance, Castillo’s custom-designed scarf fabric brings to mind Otomi embroidery, the colorful blend of fanciful animals and flowers that is the creative calling card of the Otomi people of Central Mexico. But this is no traditional pattern. Castillo has transformed the expected geometric animals into signature Lone Star symbols like horseshoes, armadillos and six-shooters. At the heart of the scarf sits the great state itself in full candy-striped glory.
Castillo is a frequent visitor to Mexico (her brother and his wife own a home in Cabo San Lucas), and she describes herself as being obsessed with Otomi textiles. “They are timeless,” she says. She’d often thought that these designs would be perfect for scarves, especially if there were some sort of Texas twist. Last year, she decided to act on this idea. She designed the fabric pattern, had it printed on generously sized viscose squares, and added a printed muslin draw-string pouch as its packaging.
Just before the December holidays, Castillo posted some pictures of her scarf on Facebook, shared it with some friends, and crossed her fingers. She needn’t have worried: Her initial run of 1,000 sold out in less than three months. “It blew my mind a little bit,” she says with a laugh.
Horned Frog Otomi Inspired Scarf
While Castillo was surprised by the swift success of her scarves, she’s not the first in her family to earn a living with art. Her grandmother was an art teacher specializing in watercolor, and her mother for many years painted children’s murals professionally. Both actively encouraged Castillo to explore her own creativity, which she did through degrees in communication design and photojournalism and an early career in corporate visual marketing and later graphic design. Castillo strives to create the same art-centric environment for her three children, who range in age from 14 to 5.
Baylor Otomi Inspired BEARS
Castillo now has begun to mix her artistic skills with business acumen. Brick-and-mortars across the city have received new shipments of scarves, as did Castillo’s online store, and she has myriad new products in the planning stages (think pillows, beach towels and table linens). Soon, Allison Castillo Designs will launch an entirely new business venture called Spirit Snob, which will unite her signature print with the logos, colors and endorsements of area universities. “I am excited – I have so many ideas, and big things are happening,” she says. “And it’s all come as a result of one scarf.”
To purchase the original Texas Forever scarf ($59) by Allison Castillo Designs and for a list of local retailers, visit allisoncastillodesigns.com
By Jenny B. Davis
By: Kyle Whitecotton