#GenerationLit: In Depth With Issa Barte
We live in a cruel world where we have to deal with our emotions head on or it will eventually eat us up. It’s very rare to find a place, a person, or at least a community where you can truly relate and find a representation of that voice screaming inside of you. Issa Barte Art aims to break that. Issa has created a platform where people are free to contribute and share their deepest and darkest stories.
Issa’s bold move to change career has brought her back to her roots. Growing up, art was instilled in her and she knew that pursuing a career to be known would be selfish of her so she took the leap and changed the route of her life. Eventually, her empathy has brought her back to what is etched in her soul and her art has changed a lot of lives.
Today, we talk about her journey, process, and what is coming next.
/ESCAPE:Do you remember how you started putting out content?
Issa: I remember starting with 18 followers and all of them were my friends so they were obliged to support me and everything. It was crazy how it blew up and strangers were the ones coming up to me to tell me their stories. I think it was wild when these strangers started to trust me.
/ESCAPE: How did you start the series?
Issa: I quit art when I was in college but I still wanted to do something that would make me draw everyday. I would create prompt questions and get answers. There were like 100 of them and that’s what I drew for 100 days.
/ESCAPE: What were the stories based on?
Issa: Before the series, they were all from my emotions and everything. I realized that it was very one sided. The perspective came in when I got a lot of stories from strangers and that’s when the platform was created. They were not only connecting with me but they were connecting with the hundreds of others that are listening.
/ESCAPE: When did strangers start opening up to you?
Issa: It’s been a year and a half since we started the whole series. After a year is the time span it bloomed.
/ESCAPE: What’s your process?
Issa: I use a survey form when I share prompt questions and when I receive the answers, I get some of my friends to help me sort them out cause I get maybe 100 submissions a day.
/ESCAPE: How does it feel being trusted with stories and feelings that could be something so emotional?
Issa: At first I was overwhelmed. There is a sense of responsibility to really tell the stories right. Sometimes they would send me three paragraphs and sometimes it would be a one liner. So how can you express that in a black and white drawing properly? That’s what really pushed me in trying to be a good storyteller because people trusted me.
/ESCAPE: What do you hope to achieve with the platform?
Issa: I hope to really connect with people. I think one of the things that hinder our potential is not maximizing our stories and seeing other people share can inspire others to really accentuate their own.
/ESCAPE: How did you get to this point of being emotionally mature enough to take in all of these stories from strangers?
Issa: I’m a very emotional person so I have to take the time to know how to manage myself. It’s really listening to how you are feeling and I realized that when I’m overwhelmed, it’s when I am doing a lot. Especially with my work now, If im disappointed in my work I’m not only disappointing myself but also everyone thats counting on me succeeding. It’s really talking to myself and asking myself why I feel this way. I get to the source of the emotion and I write it down. My head gets really messy so when I see it visually it makes more sense.
/ESCAPE: Has it ever happened that you feel you are not able to tell the story right?
Issa: Definitely, especially the stories that are entrusted with me, I can’t get feedback from the author cause once it’s posted, its posted and they cant tell me off.
/ESCAPE: How are you able to tell if its not done properly?
Issa: It’s mostly myself because everything is anonymous. It’s a feeling that I have inside that I hope this is how they want me to portray them in my art.
/ESCAPE: Do you get overwhelmed?
Issa: Definitely. They really go into detail about how they feel, what happened, it gets really really dark sometimes. It’s a glimpse into the real world and knowing my audience who are younger than me, I have to see which stories are proper to put out and which must be handled on my own.
/ESCAPE:Did you ever encounter having to think of how one emotion feels because you have never felt before but because its been told to you in a story?
Issa: Some stories, I really had to step back and reflect and not post about it for 3 days. I get stories about harrassment, rape, like really dark stuff that would remind me of something that happened to myself or that I did not understand completely so I had to figure it out first.
/ESCAPE:What have you learned ever since you started?
Issa: I think the best one is you have to take the time to listen to yourself. One of the best takeaways in life is to know who you are and an experience is an experience but what can you make out of it? You can deal with these things everyday but what do you choose to make out of it is what matters. It’s the choices are what will make the life. It’s a deliberate and conscious choice so you have to have intent. I guess when people trust you, you take time to listen and read, because these are real people and real experiences.
/ESCAPE:What is one achievement you are super proud of?
Issa: I did get to launch a clothing line and work with Nat Geo [National Geographic] which is the most amazing thing but the biggest milestone is the first time I was messaged and a follower told me that the platform saved their life. I got that a few times and I think that’s the reason for a platform like this you get to talk and touch people. It’s crazy how an instagram post can save a life. That’s super wild. How people will share a bunch of emotions to someone they have never met.
/ESCAPE:Where do you hope to see Issa Barte Art?
Issa: My big goal is to tell the stories of the world. We’re at such a vital time. It’s only been 10 days into 2020 and everything is messy. Stories will change the world. And the way people listen to it and I really hope because I’m blessed with a platform for people to listen. I just hope that the stuff I put out will get people going. We can’t fail this one. It’s such a crucial time. I hope we get people to start to act. I have this NGO and it’s still not a big movement but people think just because they can’t change the whole world they can’t do anything but all the small things matter. Small things will really get us going.
Photography by Francesca Lagmay
Photos edited by Mike Gella
Produced and edited by Vani Altomonte
Art Direction by Nigel Garcia
Words by Alecs Ronquillo
Production Coordination by Stevie Eigenmann
Shot on location at The Island