Kawaii Universe’s Lucky Koi

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Valentina Crespo, Kawaii Universe creator
Photo by Stephanie Turk

“Everything I do is about energy,” beams Valentina Crespo, a bright, colorful, award winning graphic designer, known for her “cute” brand Kawaii Universe, based in Wynwood. Having operated out of her NW 24th St. location for approximately 2 years, she not only generates digital artwork at her studio space, but also creates one of a kind hand cut stickers, bringing joy to kids and adults alike.

Inspired by Japanese Anime artists who lend a fine art approach to their digital work, Valentina is dedicated to creating her cast of characters from a painterly perspective. “I love Japanese culture and the concept that they love paying attention to detail. They pride themselves in their craftsmanship, and being digital artists.”

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Valentina, in front of her larger than life creations,
at Kawaii Universe in Wynwood
Photo by Stephanie Turk

All of Crespo’s images are mastered for high output resolution, so that their quality is maintained, whether for a small sticker or a gigantic billboard. Having travelled extensively, exhibiting at numerous Anime conventions and museums, she was ready to create a permanent home base in Wynwood. “Wynwood is about discovering something new,” she describes of the neighborhood. She characterizes the area where she holds a prime retail corner, as an “organic and urban canvas.” She sees Wynwood progressing slowly, yet rapidly, simultaneously. “It’s so internationally known…but at the same time, there’s still a lot of people that need to know about it.” She cites, “diligence, excitement, being open…organizing more community oriented events…synchronizing everybody so they can be supportive of each other,” as the key elements of bettering the community.

Valentina is focused on providing an engaging experience for her viewers, infusing her fervor for life into her art. “Art is about an extension of yourself,” she explains. “It’s all about challenging yourself too because there are so many different tiers of being an artist. Connecting with people, showcasing something that people wouldn’t expect, but at the same time, bringing it all together in a way that makes sense.”

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She complements her graphic design work and sticker creations, with corporate collaborations, such as a children’s Sticker Design Activity book she brought to life with Klutz and Scholastic.  She uses the exterior of her building to promote brands as a Wynwood ambassador, such as the murals she created for Red Bull’s Flugtag event and Vita Coco during Art Basel.

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Photo from Kawaii Universe’s Tumblr

More recently, she has taken her artistry online designing apps for her Kawaii brand. The Kawaii Lucky Koi App available for iPhone and iPad, is inspired by Steve Jobs, who was a Buddhist. The design, Kawaii Koi Lotus Mandala, dedicated to Apple’s founder, “focuses on communicating and portraying an organic truth via the concept of Buddhism and Taoism, encompassing traditional symbols used in Japanese culture, organized in the form of a layered lotus mandala.”

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Valentina draws from Japanese culture more than the fine art techniques, but also its disciplined approach to life. “It’s almost like the martial arts,” she explains. “You have to challenge yourself, get to the next level all the time and be the best you can be. That’s what motivates people to enjoy it.  I’m happy to be in Wynwood and be a positive approach to contemporary art.”

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Valentina, posing in front of Vita Coco mural in Wynwood
Photo by Stephanie Turk