Perhaps you know her as Lisette Correa; perhaps by her ARRRTAddict moniker. Or perhaps you’ve just seen her Pride T-shirt designs grace the racks at Macy’s and Target for the past several Junes.
“I was one of the main artists who was a part of the Pride collection for Target, and I do that consistently every year with my company,” the Atlanta artist told Georgia Voice. “They trust me because I’m able to really give them verbiage for T-shirts that our community is really going to connect with because I’m in the community, rather than just slap another rainbow on the T-shirt. Now I do it for Macy’s as well.”
Many of her commercial Pride designs feature her signature use of pastel colors: the mane of a unicorn, melting swirls on a rainbow ice cream cone, a strutting avocado. The opportunity to be part of the Pride art teams for these retailers came through her work with California-based Hybrid Apparel. Correa is licensed to reproduce a hoard of familiar characters in her graphic tee designs, including Sailor Moon, Hello Kitty, Marvel heroes and villains and a variety of Disney franchises. Her style is also evident on the work she does for the company Zumiez.
Correa grew up watching her grandmother sew quinceañera and wedding dresses. She moved from her hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to New York for fashion, and got an internship with clothing brand Sean John. That’s when she started “messing around” with graphics.
“From there, I kind of got more in love with art than with fashion. When you start designing T-shirts, it’s kind of like a canvas because you’re creating art rather than just creating a garment,” she said.
That, plus a move to Los Angeles, California, set Correa off into the world of fast fashion and graphic artistry.
“Fast fashion is all your big chain stores,” she said. “When a trend comes out, it goes directly into the stores. You’ll see something on the runway and within a month or two, you see a version or something inspired by that in the stores.”
Somewhere between the fast fashion of LA and the not-so-fast lanes of 285, Correa caught the mural bug. Her most impactful project in 2019 was her mural wall at Atlanta’s MJQ Concourse, which features some of the iconic characters and images she created: an alien with a gold grill grins at passerby; her ‘Hydrate Your Soul’ spray bottle; the grim reaper behind the wheel of a flame-covered donk car.
“I’ve been visiting MJQ forever, every time I would visit my family,” Correa said. “I would always see all the murals on the walls and I would always say I want to paint in here, so to have finally painted that mural is insane.”
Shortly after that, Correa was commissioned to be part of a Living Walls mural project on HIV awareness.
“The more we associate [HIV] with death, the more people don’t want to talk about it and the more they don’t want to get tested,” Correa said. “We wanted to celebrate people in the community who are still alive, still thriving.”
The characters she included in the mural are vogueing, a dance style popularized in the house dance scene where dancers mimic a runway model’s movements in a stylized manner.
“I came out in the ballroom scene in New York. Being around people transitioning and vogueing is a way to celebrate who we are. It’s this scene for the first time where I heard about someone having HIV or AIDS,” Correa said. “Nightlife is kind of like church for us because it’s how everybody looks; we’re giving everybody self-esteem. That’s what I highlight personally, but everybody’s mural coming together was about celebrating this and chopping that stigma.”
Representation is Brewing
Earlier this year, Correa was selected to design can art for the New England-style IPA beer “Sufferin’ Til Suffrage,” a collaboration brew between Atlanta-based Second Self Beer Co., New Realm Brewing Company and industry group Pink Boots Society.
“The characters I did on there, it’s not just people of color. It’s every kind of woman. Looking at a can art and not seeing this person as specifically white or black, it makes you see people as they are,” Correa said. “There’s one girl who’s on the far left of the can holding the ‘ATL’ sign and she’s, for me, an androgynous lesbian, and I even put a rainbow patch on her jacket.
Whenever it’s a really big project, I try to make sure that I’m going to have representation.”
Another area of representation important to Correa is that of her Caribbean Latinx heritage, which she missed during her time on the West Coast.
“I’ve been trying to put my culture into each image. Putting a lot of gold grills in my artwork, that’s a big cultural thing in south Florida,” Correa said. “A lot of the reason I draw my characters with pastel coloring is, I want to represent people of color, but I want them to be so much more than just black and brown. So instead, it’s about, ‘How can I emphasize more of our culture and fashion aesthetic and what’s unique to us?’”
One day, Correa hopes ARRRTAddict to be so big that the company she designs for has to obtain a licensing fee to have her images on them. At the moment, most of the work she does with Hybrid Apparel’s brands aren’t in her signature style, though her Pride designs for Macy’s and Target, as well as some of her designs for Zumiez, are noticeably more ARRRTAddict.
“I’ve come to this conclusion, my thing with my art is creating positive messages in a really quirky, fun way,” Correa said. “I literally have someone meditating in the middle of a club [in the MJQ mural]. I want to promote balance, like yes we can go out and have a great time…but also remember to meditate and be still. Remember to take care of your mind and soul.”