If you've joined the Gorilla Club, you will have seen Carolina Bayona Gomez's beautiful illustrations of the wildlife from the Lebialem Highlands, a biodiversity hotspot. She says she’s motivated to volunteer with us because she likes to be part of projects that help to make a better world. As part of this, Carolina has recently become a CRGP Gorilla Ambassador so we caught up with her to learn more about what inspires her to draw wildlife.
So who is Carolina?
Carolina is a proud Colombian and animal lover who has been drawing since she was a child. Her parents found that the only way to keep her quiet for a few hours was to give her a piece of paper and colours! At school, her teachers didn't always understand that by drawing in classes, she was able to concentrate better and learn more. She grew up with Disney, Pixar, fairy tales and the Cartoon Network which is how she has developed her illustration style which is so perfect for our kids' Gorilla Club!
Since studying Graphic Design at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, Columbia, she has been working in graphic design and in the communication area of a university, with some freelance work too. In fact, Carolina met her husband at university and he is creative too, working in Animation.
The extra time at home during lockdown has given Carolina some much longed for time to draw and continue her passion for illustration. She’s always learning, practising, exploring new techniques, materials and brushes.
What's her favourite animal?
Carolina loves animals' curious facts and colours and believes we should love them and respect them and their habitats. She can't choose a favourite animal although she's not a fan of bugs or spiders!
So how did Carolina get involved with saving critically endangered gorillas?
Carolina was doing the #36daysoftype challenge on Instagram where she drew an animal alphabet when our Project Manager Jennie spotted her gorilla drawing for the letter G. All the way over in Columbia, Carolina hadn’t yet heard of our North East based charity in the UK and had been inspired by the fantastic Ellen DeGeneres to draw this gorilla.
Soon, this illustration became the logo for the Gorilla Club and our Education Outreach Intern Rebecca started to develop the idea for the packs, and Gerald the Gorilla and his Rainforest Friends were born! We are so grateful to be working with such a talented artist and are so happy that Carolina is enjoying this collaboration too, helping to raise awareness for these endangered species and teaching kids about conservation.
“I saw you shared my illustration and here we are. Working together for the gorillas, the community of Cameroon and the rainforest. I´m loving this work because I'm learning too. I love kids, and love to draw for them. When I drew “Gerald” I never thought he would have a name, a family like CRGP and such an important mission with kids. I'm so happy for that.”
Like so many, Carolina was unaware about the existence of the critically endangered Cross River gorillas. If you, like Carolina want to do something to help them from wherever you are in the world, please head to our ‘How to Help’ page and join the Gorilla Club to learn more.
We asked Carolina why people should care about gorillas and this was Carolina's beautiful response:
"Because they deserve it... They deserve respect, love and a safe place to live. Gorillas are our family, we’re almost the same and as they give us the best of them, we have to give back the same."
To see more of Carolina’s work, please head to her Instagram page @Caracolarte and follow to show your support! All of these images are credited to @Caracolarte.