The Seattle Seahawks return home to Lumen Field in Week 3 to face the Atlanta Falcons. In the continued effort to create initiatives to highlight homegrown Pacific Northwest talent, the Seattle Seahawks Gameday Poster series does just that. Meet Week 3 feature artist Marisol Ortega.
Behind The GameDay Poster
This is the fourth year of the Seahawks Gameday Poster series, done in partnership with Seattle art pioneers the Ames Bros, with proceeds benefiting a different organization each week. The Week 3 beneficiary is Center for Latino Leadership, whose mission is to demystify local politics and raise awareness of how certain issues impact the Latino community of Washington State.
The Ames Bros duo of Barry Ament and Coby Schultz are the masterminds behind some of the world's greatest illustrations, created here in Seattle. The pair met at art college in Montana, moving to Seattle to pursue their artistic endeavors in a bigger market. The duo found a niche in poster and apparel artwork for mega groups like Pearl Jam and Metallica. Now they are giving homegrown talent an opportunity to shine on a major platform courtesy of the Seahawks.
Who Is Marisol Ortega?
This week's gameday poster not only features someone with a significant impact on Pacific-Northwest art - but a pioneer during Hispanic Heritage Month.
The lone girl in a male-dominated group of children in the family, Marisol Ortega found her way as a young girl in Southern California with her hands. Opting out of being her male cousin's wrestling ragdoll, Ortega discovered art at an early age as a form of expression. As part of a collaboration with the Made In The Middle Conference for creatives hosted in Kansas City in 2018, Ortega discussed her upbringing.
"Creativity was for sure a part of my childhood," said Ortega. "I grew up in southern California until I was about 7 years old. I was the only girl in a 5 male group of cousins who was not interested in wrestling, so by default I was always left to my own devices. I used to carry around a small pencil box filled with crayons, colored pencils, scissors and paper. I went everywhere with that pencil box. I literally have photos of me at family events where I am either somewhere in a corner coloring or on a table, away from the crowd, drawing. It's always been my outlet."
Made In The Middle Conference (Kansas City) collaborating with Ortega in 2018:
The working-class family supported Ortega's passion at an early age, with her father using his construction background to aid his daughter - and wallet.
"Although my parents were not in creative fields, my father and I shared a love for making things with our hands," said Ortega. "He is a construction worker and has always worked with wood. He built me several easels throughout my childhood, it was pretty sweet."
As she got older, Ortega dove deeper into the world of art, making it clear that this was what she wanted to do. But her blue-collar parents didn't see art as a feasible means of living.
"My parents were very much against me pursuing art as a career. I was the first in my family to go to college and get a full ride scholarship. It took them a while to really see that it was something that I could make a living from. I grew up in Oregon so moving up to Seattle was close enough that I could come home if I needed to but far away that I could enjoy being independent. I think my mom still struggles to understand what I do for a living but when I get to show her products in the wild, something tactile, you can tell that she understands and is super proud of me. "
Ortega's imagination and drive led her to study abroad as a sophomore in high school in Perugia, Italy. In 2004, Ortega took a leap of faith, moving to Seattle to pursue an education at The Art Institute of Seattle. An internship at Tully's Coffee Company led to collaborations with nonprofits like the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and later a position with Theo Chocolate. There, Ortega would venture deeper into illustration before becoming a senior designer for Starbucks.
"Yeah, I was working full time at Theo Chocolate when a recruiter for Starbucks called me to see if I was available to interview for a contract position for 3 months," said Ortega. "I mulled over it for days until I pulled the trigger and interviewed and then later was offered the contract position in the studio. At the time it was a huge risk for me because I had a 1-year-old and the only one working at the time. I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work at Starbucks but definitely made a pros/cons list and I figured worst-case scenario I would look for another full-time job while contracting. Super thankful to have worked with so many talented people at Starbucks, I'm glad I took on that risk early in my career. Starbucks opened a lot of doors for me, and I still maintain a great working relationship with the art program there."
Art is a medium that can't be restricted to one style or preference, and Ortega isn't confining her life to one place or type of work.
"I draw a lot of inspiration from the nature around me," said Ortega. "I started a flower garden since the pandemic, and it has been super therapeutic for me. I take lot of photos of my flowers and I draw and paint them all the time."
While residing in Seattle with her husband for nearly two decades, Ortega allowed her talents to take her all over - namely the Midwest. When she's not creating with her daughter Ellie, you might find Ortega in Kansas City. But she's known to go where her networking efforts on social media take her.
"I've learned over time that collaboration is important and makes a greater impact than anything you can make on your own," said Ortega. "Even in jobs where I was the only designer I was still collaborating with other departments. The collaborations I currently do as part of my freelance jobs is on another level. I have met and befriended the lovely designers/type designers of Lost Type and we collaborate on a variety of projects. They are some of my most rewarding projects I've had the honor to take part in because we are all on the same page and work really well together, and it all happens via the internet!"
Always working with her hands, Ortega has taken up embroidery over the last few years.
"It really makes me feel connected to my culture," said Ortega. "My grandmother used to do it and it has become a way of connecting with her in both my professional and personal work."
This Hispanic Heritage Month, Ortega continues to be honored for her work. Nationwide tech-based company Slalom Build highlighted Ortega's illustrative genius last week
No matter how far her art takes her, it always finds a way to bring her back home. The Seattle Seahawks Gameday Poster series gives Ortega an opportunity to reach new fans as well as potential collaborators, while paving a way for young Hispanic girls with an imagination.
You can find Ortega's art on custom Starbucks products, each unique in design and commemorative to her heritage.
The action green pops off the soaring Seahawk, the hue reminiscent of the trees surrounding Ortega's abuelo's home in Michoacan, Mexico. The team's navy-blue colors the flower pedals across the gameday poster. The calming nature of the poster is a perfect metaphor for the unsuspecting Atlanta Falcon flying into the Seahawk's nest on Sunday.
Ortega is best known for her vibrant flora and fauna illustrations, and she spares no attention-to-detail.
"I was inspired by a recent trip I took to Mexico and looked at my grandmother's pottery collection," said Ortega. "Lots of really cool patterns and loose florals. Capturing the motifs shown in embroidery and pottery and a bit of nature was what I was going for. I always try to combine both my cultures into something that is me."
Proceeds benefit the Center for Latino Leadership, demystifying local politics and raising awareness of how issues impact the Latino community in Washington.
Pickup your limited-edition Marisol Ortega Seahawks Gameday artwork and find out more beneficiary information here.
Players and staff from the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord on September 20, 2022.