Discover the Vibrant Art of Fernando Parra: From Character Illustrations to Larger-Than-Life Installations


In the bustling shopping centers of Galerías MX, a delightful surprise awaits visitors, “Pepe, El Perezoso,” is a larger-than-life inflatable sloth travelling across Mexico.

Galerías MX, part of the renowned Liverpool Group, is committed to setting global standards in the retail sector and crafting a vibrant destination for its visitors. Teaming up with MASSIVart as a strategic partner, Galerías MX has embarked on a long-term creative placemaking journey, seamlessly blending public art installations with creative placemaking initiatives.

Crafted by the standout designer and 3D artist Fernando Parra, “Pepe, El Perezoso” not only captivates with its vibrant colours and character illustrations but also tells a personal story reflecting the artist’s heritage and experiences. In a recent interview with MASSIVart, Parra shares the inspirations behind his amazing art and the thoughtful journey of feelings and nature that each piece embodies.

Interview with Fernando Parra, Artist and Illustrator - MASSIVart and Galerias MX - Self Portrait

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Fernando Parra. I was born in Mexico City and studied Industrial Design at UNAM. Nowadays, I work as an independent designer, developing art and design projects in various fields.

Currently, I try to enjoy the simple things in life, like eating, drinking delicious coffee, listening to music attentively, cooking eggs with beans, walking with my four-legged companion Tomasa (my dog), and trying to understand the reasons behind my actions. This has affected my artistic expression in various ways, but mainly, I consider myself to be in a phase of complete honesty.

Can you share your journey as an artist and how you started in the field?

The term “artist” still causes me some conflict, and I definitely believe it’s something that people should label you with rather than something you simply apply to yourself. My work began in the field of design when I studied Industrial Design.

At the beginning of my career, I worked as an intern at Grupo Carso in a Technology and Innovation Center. There, I experienced exponential growth in different areas of knowledge, especially in personal development and soft skills, which helped me build resilience for the future. Meeting incredibly intelligent people with strong values in that environment, I had the opportunity to win several Hackathons across the country by proposing projects involving virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile applications, interactive games, etc. It was a time when everyone wanted to design an app that would change the world.

During that early stage of my career, I also participated in some Industrial Design competitions, achieving good results and recognition.

After that stage, I began my professional life at Residencia, a digital marketing agency in Mexico City, where I learned a lot about deliverables and design for standardized brands. It was a complex time emotionally, and my stay there wasn’t long because the transition from multidisciplinary projects to digital advertising was somewhat overwhelming.

Interview with Fernando Parra, Artist and Illustrator - MASSIVart and Galerias MX
I tried to return to my roots and joined Ariel Rojo Studio, specializing in interior and industrial design. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best experience in terms of happiness, not because of anyone’s fault but simply due to project satisfaction issues. I learned a lot in a short time about client presentations, object curation, interior design, and standardization, but I didn’t feel completely happy.

Upon resigning, I joined some of my former intern colleagues in their venture, SMART-DRONE. Here, my involvement focused more on designing construction manuals, brand identity, graphic design, and presentations for the company. Once again, I gained a lot of new knowledge and developed new skills.

After all this, I decided to make a comeback in the world of digital marketing and landed a great position at BNN, starting as a junior designer in a team dedicated solely to winning new brands and projects for the company. Over four years, my knowledge of services, new technologies, and art direction grew rapidly. As the years passed, I became somewhat of a general assistant to both the creativity head and the head of art at the agency, forming a kind of team responsible for maintaining the quality of deliverables and supporting the development of deliverables when necessary.

During those four years, I had stability and free time, which allowed me to develop my 3D skills and start an adventure with my project, VAGO. Over time, freelance work opportunities increased, and eventually, I made the decision to focus solely on that project to this day.

My artistic expression improved over time; now, I’m capable of modelling, animating, and creating characters, what some might call a generalist. For six years, I’ve been collaborating with studios and agencies worldwide, mainly on projects involving character development, illustrations, animation, icons, and branding.

Right now, I’m experiencing a period of change through new experiences. I aim to materialize my expressions in new media while returning somewhat to my roots as an Industrial Designer but with new perspectives and methodologies that help me feel completely fulfilled.

"Pepe, El Perezoso" By Fernando Parra - at Galerias MX, Mexico City LATAM - Creative Placemaking Activation Designed, Curated and Production Managed by MASSIVart - Large Yellow Inflatable Sloth in Retail Centre - Picture by Douglas Rivera

Can you guide us through your creative process?

My creative process is closely tied to my background as a designer. Researching and understanding the brief is always a crucial part, whether it’s an artistic or more free project, so to speak.

After researching, conceptualizing something within a specific context and timeframe is a key part for me. This helps me understand which mediums and techniques will best communicate the message I intend or want to express.

Sketching before finalizing any technique is the next step. Even though projects may be simple and I can quickly visualize them in my head, putting everything on paper, whether it’s words or drawings, gives me a much clearer idea of where to go.

After this, with a clear direction, the technical processes—whether digital or traditional—to reach the final expression are simply a matter of applying techniques, trial and error, with support from experts in each manufacturing or transformation field is essential.

Obviously, some projects have limitations that allow for more or less experimentation, but most of the time, everything is urgent. Thus, enjoying the process becomes much more important than fighting over any external issues.

Interview with Fernando Parra, Artist and Illustrator - MASSIVart and Galerias MX

Who or what are your greatest artistic influences? How do they inspire your work?

My day-to-day life, my feelings, the teachings of my father, the way my mother lives, my teachers throughout my life, and my favourite musicians are sources of conceptual inspiration, so to speak.

In terms of aesthetics, in recent years, the search for a new contemporary Mexican aesthetic, my perception, but without falling into clichés, has been quite a challenge. Artists like Toledo, Tamayo, and the muralist movement are expressions that, in terms of colour, composition, and technique, resonate with me. The aesthetics of states like Oaxaca, Chiapas, and recently Chihuahua are influences that I am subtly trying to incorporate into my expressions, as well as the customs and traditions of these places, without falling into a direct translation of style. Although to be honest, it’s still a work in progress. A continuous process.

Due to my background as an industrial designer, minimalism, design with structure, cleanliness, and purity in materials inspire me. I love the complexity of creating something in the simplest way possible.

Regarding techniques, any artist, craftsman, or worker can become my source of inspiration. Certainly, as an industrial designer, I find that new materials, finishes, and transformation methods are often topics of interest and inspiration in many ways.

"Pepe, El Perezoso" By Fernando Parra - at Galerias MX, Mexico City LATAM - Creative Placemaking Activation Designed, Curated and Production Managed by MASSIVart - Large Yellow Inflatable Sloth in Retail Centre - Picture by Douglas Rivera

How do you expect visitors to feel when they see Pepe the Sloth?

Definitely, “expect” is a word that we’ve tried to discard these days, but undoubtedly, I imagine smiles, moments of calm, hugs, and a bit of intrigue from the viewer when observing the installation. I hope to evoke a feeling of tranquillity, confidence, and protection. It will be very interesting to be nearby and observe for a few minutes how people react.

What is your opinion on public art’s impact on urban spaces and communities? Additionally, how does it contribute to a place’s identity and vitality?

I generally appreciate free access to art through public spaces. I see an improvement in generating more opportunities for access to knowledge and appreciation of art in communities that the art industry has not always favoured. Identity and vitality are concepts that are constantly changing. From my point of view, the mission of providing something complex in a simpler way seems beautiful, trying to remove something beyond a photo on our social networks for our society.

Contexts are a fundamental part of every individual’s life; the development of people and personalities is strictly associated with the circumstances of the contexts in which we grow and live. Providing vitality, tranquillity, and comfort to generate spaces suitable for meditation and the creation of thoughts seems to me a fundamental urban mission, especially for people who do not have access to these types of spaces.

How do you imagine the future of public art, especially in the context of evolving urban landscapes?

In general, I tend not to focus too much on what happens in terms of artists; in terms of a year, I like to dedicate only a month or so to consuming influences, art, and trends and then get to work. I’m not an expert on the subject, so regarding how I imagine public art, in my head, it becomes more of a dream, where interactions are more frequent for the community without being intrusive or imposed.

Urban landscapes typically become a collection of expressions from thousands of individuals. Even though there may be an attempt to create a projection towards a certain sense, considering the thousands of variables of how this will work is complex and ends up mutating into various compartments in society.

Thank you Fernando for this insightful interview! If you’d like to check out more of Fernando’s work, check out his Instagram!


Photos of “Pepe, El Perezoso” by Diego Rivera
All other images by Fernando Parra