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Meet Ximena Barcelo and Justina Duenas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ximena Barcelo and Justina Duenas.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
XB: I am a 24 yr old artist in the fashion industry. I focus on styling, visual merchandising, and creative direction. My interest in fashion began when I was 16, when I took my first ever fashion course in high school. From this moment on, I knew this was the industry I belonged in. The “behind-the-scenes” aspect of the fashion industry caught my attention early on, from fashion show production and location scouting for a photo shoot to pulling pieces from local brands & designers and researching new trends and styles. After high school, I studied Fashion Merchandising at Palomar College. I turned to retail to gain work experience, which helped me learn a lot about management and merchandising. About four years ago, I met my best friend, Justina Duenas. We combined her passion for art and my love of fashion, which led us to create Queen Cartel, our creative agency.

JD: I’m an artist and writer from Oceanside, CA. Last year I released a poetic memoir “As She Was.” It tells my story, using poems and proses. It was actually during that time I discovered my passion for art. I didn’t even know I was good at it! I’ve been displayed in an LA art gallery and have been a part of RAW Artists of San Diego. I met Ximena a few years ago while I was trying to open an online clothing boutique. However, I’m not really into fashion, so I told Ximena about the idea and Queen Cartel was born after that.

Please tell us about your art.
XB: Queen Cartel began with a simple idea, “collaboration over competition.” Before Justina and I began QC, we followed the creative community closely and noticed there was a lack of unity between artists. The focus always seemed to be on who had more followers, streams, or views. We eventually decided to take matters into our own hands and start Queen Cartel. It originally began as a collaborative clothing brand, but we quickly realized that with both of our backgrounds we have a lot more to offer than just clothing. Queen Cartel now offers a variety of creative services like styling, creative direction, brand/artist collaborations, and community events.

JD: We sat down and had an initial meeting. Next thing you know, we became business partners and were on our way to find artists to collaborate with. As time went on, we began realizing how much more we had to offer and found there was a need for a public relations type of agency solely focused on the creative community, specifically, OUR creative community.

XB: What we are most proud of is our events. We showcase 2-3 local artists, from musicians and dancers to designers and painters. We invite local business to set up and give them an opportunity to monetize their products or services. We then invite hundreds of local artists to come network and have a fun time with us! Every single person at these events has a unique talent or contributes to our creative community in some way. We truly just want to give people the chance to show their work, find their next business opportunity, and connect with people who have the same mindset and beliefs.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national, or international events and issues affect your art?
XB: I believe this depends on the artists’ industry, but personally, I think my role as an artist is to promote unity. There is enough separation, racism, judgment, and discrimination in this world as it is. As artists, we have the power to provoke people to feel and think. So let’s make them feel love and inclusion; let’s make them think empathetically and about unique ways we can bring healing to our community. If we have these unique talents and dreams, it should be our mission to steer our communities away from negativity and malicious practices.

JD: This has been the hardest question to answer. I’m not sure if the role of artists has changed, but what I do know is if creating is your voice, now is not the time to silence it. A creative voice inspires us to continue using our voices not just in our art but in our personal lives as well.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Queen Cartel has many events throughout the year (next one is September 1st!), and we are always participating at events for other local businesses. You can check out the rest of our work and projects through our Instagram! @queencartel_

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jesse Negrete
Kaitlyn Kohn
Wanthy D

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition, please let us know here.

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