(The Báalam bandana designed by Minerva GM for BANDITS)
During the month of May, BANDITS is getting into a Mayan mood with the "Báalam" bandana by Mexican illustrator and graphic artist Minerva GM. "Báalam" means Jaguar in Mayan, and this feisty feline is the BANDITS featured design for May! Featuring funky females and fluorescent fauna, it's a BANDITS favorite and the perfect piece to complete your Spring and Summer outfits. "Báalam" is more than just fashion and fun facts, though. Keep reading below to learn more about the artist, the design, and the incredible cause that it helps to support!
The Artist - Minerva GM
"Báalam" creator Minerva GM is an illustrator, graphic artist, and product designer based in Cancún, México. I first discovered Minerva on Instagram, and if you check out her feed (@minervagm) you'll agree that her work is impossible to simply swipe by. Bright, bold, and brimming with tropical hues, Minerva's pieces seem to immediately transport the viewer to the white sands, swaying palms, and warm water of her Playa Del Carmen home.
Her unique illustrations, patterns, and characters are unmistakably feminine, exploring the relationship between women and the natural world of the Yucatán region. Her designs often feature female characters juxtaposed with animals, tropical plants, and natural scenery. However, her vibrant work belies a sense of nostalgia that goes beyond gender and brings to mind epic beach memories for everyone.
(A sampling of the female-focused work of Minerva GM)
In addition to loving Minerva’s work, I also instantly identified with her story. In 2015, she decided to leave an editorial design role in Mexico City to move to the beach and become a freelance artist. In our first conversation, Minerva and I bonded over not just making the leap out of office life, but also the fact that neither of us has regretted the move for a second.
Minerva explained that once she arrived in Cancún she began incorporating her beachside surroundings into her work. Once she did, the creativity, colors, and commissions began to flow. Minerva has licensed designs to American Greetings, Little Bee Books, and musical artist Corrine Bailey Rae, among others. She also creates her own products and original prints available on her website minervagm.com.
From a personal standpoint, Minerva has been a dream to work with. She’s even been incredibly understanding as I try to figure out what happened to the package of “Báalam” bandanas I sent to Cancún over a month ago (note – don’t try to send packages to México using USPS First Class if you want it to, you know, get there). She’s been incredibly supportive of BANDITS every step of the way and I can’t thank her enough for creating a bandana that perfectly captures the spirit of her work, personality, and amazing story!
The Design - "Báalam"
The Yucatán region on the eastern coast of México (the area that Minerva calls home) has long been influenced by the culture of the Mayan civilizations that once inhabited the region. The ruins of ancient Mayan cities, in some cases dating back almost 3,000 years, dot the jungles just outside of Cancún, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum. Sites like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Sayil, and Kabah and are a wonder to behold (even if they can get a bit crowded with tourists). They are evidence of a mysterious and impressive civilization, with culture and mythology so strong it still permeates the region today. Many of the indigenous people living in the area still practice ancient Mayan customs and worship traditional deities.
(An early draft of Minerva GM's bold Báalam bandana design)
The “Báalam” (Jaguar in traditional Mayan language) is a central figure in Mayan mythology. Seen as the ruler of the underworld, the jaguar serves as a symbol of the night sun and darkness. However, the jaguar is also representative of power, ferocity, and valor; the embodiment of aggressiveness. For many Mayans, the jaguar represents the power to face one's fears, or to confront one's enemies.
This is especially evident within the context of Minerva’s “Báalam” bandana design. The jaguar’s dark color and white spots are reminiscent of the night sky itself. Positioned in front of the bright, tropical colors of the woman (and her toucan friends), the jaguar is symbolic of the strength she needs to make her way in the natural world. The light and the dark dance together in an intricate rhythm, with the border of dancers showing us the moves. It’s all woven together in an ideal tropical ecosystem where humans, plants, and animals are all in harmony (an in-step) with one another.
The Charity - Techo
TECHO is a non-profit, non-governmental organization present in 21 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. They work to overcome the widespread effects of poverty in the region. Since 1997, this youth-led organization has tirelessly pursued its goal of eradicating poverty through fostering community development in slums, growing its network of volunteers, and advocating for political action and legislative changes in the areas it serves.
In their work with impoverished communities, TECHO often plays an outsized role in aid and recovery efforts following natural disasters. TECHO, through its massive network of volunteers, is able to mobilize quickly following disaster events to begin recovery efforts almost as soon as they are needed. From building emergency housing to delivering sorely-needed supplies, TECHO provides recovery resources that these communities cannot provide for themselves.
Having lived in Mexico City, Minerva had a personal connection to the work that TECHO does. In September of 2017, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked an area of Central Mexico just south of Mexico City. Many people lost their homes, others were trapped in buildings that collapsed, and over 300 people were killed. After a few days at the top of the news, the global media and many around the world moved on to the next tragedy in the news cycle. However, many in Mexico were left struggling to recover from this devastating event.
Minerva saw the suffering and devastation on television and first hand in her former home city. She saw that the poorest communities were those hit hardest, and those in need of the most help. TECHO has been one of the leaders in the ongoing recovery efforts in these affected communities, and their work continues in the area today.
10% of sales proceeds from “Báalam” will be donated to TECHO, specifically to aid in their relief efforts in and around Mexico City. Minerva hopes the money generated can help TECHO to improve the lives of those who are often forgotten in the wake of such disasters.
The Most Exciting Part
BANDITS is thrilled to feature this amazing bandana design, introduce a new audience to this immensely talented artist, and bring awareness and financial support to this noble organization. That’s why BANDITS is helping you to support all three!
In honor of “Báalam” being this month’s featured design (and as a nod to Mother’s Day falling on May 13), BANDITS is extending the Mother’s Day discount for the entire month of May!
All May long – get your hands on a “Báalam” bandana and get 20% OFF by using code BAALAM4MOM at checkout.
Make it a “better late than never” Mother’s Day gift, make it the most enviable accessory at the next wedding you go to, or just make it a staple of your Spring and Summer wardrobe. No matter what you make it, you’ll be making a difference in Latin American communities that need it most.
Click the discount code above or go HERE to grab a “Báalam” bandana of your very own!