The first thing people probably realize about Claudia Letonja when you find her on social media is that she is a big Dodgers fan. If it’s not that, it’s the fact she is an amazing painter who focuses heavily on baseball and dabbles occasionally in wrestling and hockey. It’s hard not to be stopped in your tracks when you see her work because her eye for detail and focus on the athlete or play at hand is impeccable.
As someone who has zero artist ability, I’m always amazed by everything Claudia does. It doesn’t matter if it’s a player I love or one I’m not totally familiar with, I love it all and find myself sharing the posts with anyone I can in hopes they enjoy it as much as I do. I personally hope that you enjoy Claudia and her work as much as I do.
Without further ado, meet Claudia Letonja!
Describe yourself to someone that doesn’t know you.
I’m a baseball fan first, an aspiring artist second. I’m Chilean and I paint mainly baseball, but other sports too.
What’s your favorite sports team? Do you have a favorite moment or game when it comes to them?
Go Dodgers! I really enjoyed last season’s walk-off weekend. But any time they clinch their division title is good too!
What inspires your artwork, especially the work that you have painted of athletes?
Love for this team, for baseball, for life and movement, and the gorgeous skies of California (which is why I usually paint a sky background on my pieces).
Do you have a favorite athlete that you love painting or find yourself painting more than others?
I keep going back to Bellinger and Kershaw. I guess because they are so talented! For completely coincidental reasons, I paint Chase Utley a lot, which usually gets me in hot water with Mets fans.
Is there one athlete or sporting event that you would love to paint but haven’t?
I’d love to paint Kiké Hernández, cos he’s my favorite. But I never get around to it! I think it’s because I like him too much and I wanna do something great and I’m afraid I won’t make him justice.
Besides sports and athletes, what else do you enjoy painting?
I sometimes paint superheroes and pro-wrestlers, but there’s nothing I enjoy painting more than baseball.
What is your favorite piece that you have done, sports, or in general?
Joe Kelly. That painting meant a change in my career. It was the first time I truly applied those things I learned and the first time I thought I could get good at it and maybe paint for a living someday. It’s also the first professional print I had made and it’s hanging at Joe’s sister’s house.
I also like the book cover I did for Le Renard Argenté, a parody of Chase Utley as a sergeant during WWII (See? Utley again!)
What’s the best advice you have received when it comes to your art or in general?
I certainly got to talk about artist Rob Schamberger. He paints for the WWE and he’s been a mentor, a friend, and a huge inspiration. He gave me a lot of consistent advice about technique, color, edges, you name it. Once I began applying it, my work really took off.
What advice would you give someone starting out with being creative like you are?
If you have any talent whatsoever, absolutely apply yourself and never ever stop. When they say “practice makes perfect”, they mean it. Don’t compete with others. Learn from them, and develop your own pace. If something’s missing, talk to other artists, look at their work, try different approaches until you get it.
Don’t ever think you’ve already learnt everything, because you haven’t.
And as they say in Galaxy Quest, “never give up, never surrender”.
I noticed on social media that you have been commissioning paintings. What do you have coming up?
I’m painting a college basketball piece right now. Never painted basketball before, so it’s challenging and fun. And after that, I have a Bo Bichette piece, and then an Ohtani piece that’s gonna be really cool.
Bonus Question: Five of your favorite ballpark foods or drinks?
I wish I could answer this, but I live in Chile. I used to go to California every winter, which is how I got the Dodgers love, but never caught a live game because the season was off. If I ever make my way up there again, I’m having a Dodgers dog!
Thank you, Claudia, for taking the time to talk to me about your artwork. I can’t wait to see what pieces come from you in the future because they are honestly amazing.
You can find Claudia on social media on Twitter and Instagram below. You can purchase shirts and prints of Claudia’s from her Shop. She also does commission work so if you are interested please feel free to contact her.