ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – This time of year, you can see the new Balloon Fiesta pins and posters just about anywhere.
What you don’t typically see are the artists behind the unique designs.
KRQE News 13 spoke with the creator of the 2015 Balloon Fiesta poster who made a surprising admission.
Victoria de Almeida said it took lots of time studying the real thing before she could create her representation of what the International Balloon Fiesta means for New Mexico.
The native New Mexican submitted her painting to a Balloon Fiesta panel for the first time this year for the chance to be featured on the 2015 poster and have her work join other iconic Balloon Fiesta collectibles.
“Our collectors range from the tiny little guys, all the way up to adults and senior citizens,” said Lisa Mulder, merchandising manager for Balloon Fiesta.
Mulder said when it comes to the pins, they order about 15,000 each year and have 30 to 40 new designs that show up in the shop.
“We actually have a gentleman on our board of directors who has minimum of at least 3,000 of our pins,” Mulder said.
In August, de Almeida said she learned her painting would be sold as the official 2015 Balloon Fiesta poster.
“I was really happy. I was really excited,” de Almeida said.
Her painting is titled, “Coming Together.”
“I sort of wanted to represent the different cultures and the different industries of New Mexico,” she said.
Instead of the landscape, she said, her work focuses on the people.
It is the coming together of different cultures in New Mexico, Native Americans, Hispanic families and the film and art industry.
On the ground, is a nod to the Albuquerque skyline and a signature that shows up in a lot of her paintings, her grandmother’s home in Santa Fe.
“That little house represents everything to me as an artist,” de Almeida said. “My grandparents taught us about our culture and our family, being proud of our family, the value of family, being proud of where you came from,” she said.
De Almeida said she was born and raised in New Mexico, but she does have a secret to fess up to about Balloon Fiesta.
“Honestly, I’m embarrassed to say I have not been,” she said.
This year, she is there signing posters that show what she sees when she thinks of the world-famous New Mexican tradition, and she is seeing it with fresh eyes out on the field for the first time.
De Almeida said she just started painting full time about six months ago when she opened a gallery in Santa Fe.