Artisan Organization: Ivan Villatoro
Country: Central America
"I'm a teacher by profession, born in Antigua, Guatemala. I've always loved everything about painting. Living in a place so filled with color and magic, you can see it in the colorful houses, the volcanoes, mountains, monuments, parks and churches. Yet my career didn't let me do other things.
"I loved to paint even when I was a little boy, decorating the walls of the house. My parents didn't like it but, with their immense love for me, they didn't get angry. They simply admired my work.
"My school vacations were boring but we had a neighbor who made beautiful ceramics. One day, I decided to ask him if he'd teach each me. He accepted, although he wasn't convinced it was a good idea.
"He taught me to shape and mold the clay although, if I'm honest, I was never very good at that. So he taught me to paint and combine colors. He showed me how to sketch and then create these images on clay. I loved this from the very first moment and this is how I learned.
"As an adult, I worked as a teacher in a neighborhood school. Every day was a new adventure with my students and they made me very happy. It was like that for many years. Sadly, in 2016, I found myself out of a job when the school wasn't able to pay us and I had to look for work elsewhere.
"I remembered painting, which is a gift God gave me, and looked for a job in ceramics. Fortunately, I found one. I had the opportunity to paint many ceramic tiles for the balconies that adorn the houses in Antigua. Then I discovered you and you opened their doors to me. This is a new and wonderful chance to grow as an artisan and showcase my work online. I am able to provide for my family and share a glimpse of Guatemala with you. I hope you like it.""