Gisela Alejandra Vergara competes in Ultimate Painting Greensboro

by Britt Chester

| | @awfullybrittish

When Gisela Alejandra Vergara was 12 years old, she had no idea that she could, and would, end up being a highly sought after freelance artist in America. And later this week, she will be competing in her first art competition. You might see her painting under her birth name, Gisela, or the persona she has adopted based on her affinity for anime and manga, Mako Fufu, which has roots in the cartoons “Sailor Moon” and “Lenore.”

“My parents told me that I had to do something, like go to college,” Vergara said in a thick Spanish accent. “I never even knew ‘artist’ was an option. Everyone told me to do graphic design, and I started that for a couple years. I hated it so much.”

Vergara, 31, was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She moved to New York City two years ago to attend a comic convention, go to art shows, and start a new life in a new country.

“Once I was there I loved it,” she added, “so, I stayed there working freelance, random stuff, and figuring out my visa.”

Vergara’s style and subjects are based strongly on the influence of the Japanese anime and manga styles of art. The subjects are adorned in colorful outfits, with certain extremities exaggerated “” enlarged eyes are a common trait in some of the human subjects.

“When I was 13 I wanted to draw anime and manga, and it wasn’t popular at all,” she remembers. “No one taught classes on that. I had to train myself. I was people drawing and copying stuff, and I was never good at copying. It always looked different than the original.”

Vergara moved to Winston-Salem one year ago, and still maintains some of her freelance clients from when she lived in New York.

“I like being here. I like having space here to have my studio. It’s affordable and I want to be able to travel everywhere,” she said.

Also when she moved here, she found a Kickstarter fundraiser operated by none other than Greensboro’s Jeff Beck. After she contributed to the artist she contacted him to start planting her roots in the art community. Beck invited Vergara to participate in some of his gallery shows, and she eagerly accepted.

Vergara spoke enthusiastically about the opportunity, “It’s great to do shows to show my art work, meet people, and get to know new places.”

Vergara travels to all sorts of comic conventions, sometimes to paint murals and sometimes to simply enjoy the company of like-minded fans.

When Beck inquired about perhaps doing one of the upcoming Ultimate Painting competitions, she was hesitant at first but ended up agreeing.

“He told me about the competition, and I said I didn’t really like competition, maybe the next one “¦ the next one came around, and I told him I would do the next one,” she recalled. Vergara has never competed in any sort of artistic event, so she is surprisingly nervous about the venture. Although she does have experience doing some live painting, the idea of a timed event has sort of rattled her.

“For me, it’s going to be fun, live painting, not competition, and the people can vote. I [will] just try not to think about it,” she said.

And when asked if she is going to be practicing before the big competition, she simply replied, “I will wing it.” !


Ultimate Painting Greensboro takes place at The Center for Visual Artists located at 200 N. Davie Street (2nd Floor) in Greensboro. Tickets ($10) can be purchased at