WATSONVILLE — When artist Jessica Carrasco moved from her hometown of Watsonville to San Jose for college, she immediately noticed a prevalence of the iconic Santa Cruz Skateboards logo — on everything from stickers to sweatshirts.
“My first reaction was, ‘It’s home!’”, Carrasco said. “But really, it wasn’t. Watsonville was my home. And I was proud that it was.”
Drawing had been an outlet for Carrasco from an early age; it was how she made sense of the world, she said. In college her art temporarily took a back seat — but she never stopped brainstorming. And she knew that whatever she made, she wanted it to support the community she called home.
“I noticed how there was always a negative vibe when [Watsonville] was mentioned,” Carrasco said. “So much of what was being reported from outside was the bad stuff. But there are so many good people here doing incredible things.”
In 2017, Carrasco sketched the first draft of her “Born and Raised in Watsonville” logo. The piece depicts a strawberry plant, with deep roots that Carrasco said represent the strength of the community.
“I recently came across a quote,” she said. “It stated, ‘They tried to bury us, but they did not know we were seeds.’ I feel like that represents Watsonville. This town is always being put down but we keep moving forward and growing.”
One day, Carrasco decided to go ahead and order 300 sticker versions of her logo to be made from an online store.
“I didn’t really think, I just went for it,” she laughed.
As a first-generation college student, Carrasco knew for sure that she wanted to help support local education. She began networking throughout the community about how to create a scholarship with the funds made from the stickers.
Social media helped Carrasco spread the word. Reaching out to fellow Watsonville artists such as “The Ville” creator Paul De Worken, she began to set up tables at various city events. Soon, she was sending sticker orders to as far away as Wyoming and Utah. The stickers eventually sold out, and the “Born and Raised in Watsonville” scholarship was funded.
“I don’t have a lot of money,” Carrasco said. “But I still wanted to find a way that I could contribute to the Watsonville community.”
ABOVE: This piece by Jessica Carrasco was created for a county-wide young artists competition last year. It will soon be on display at PV Arts, and featured in the next election’s voting pamphlet.
The $500 scholarship is now open to high school seniors who live in Watsonville and attend a Pajaro Valley Unified School District school (including alternative and charter schools). No GPA minimum or Social Security number is required to apply. The deadline for applying is April 23 — giving Carrasco plenty of time to read through everything and form a committee to help her select the winner.
And “Born and Raised” is just the first step; Carrasco has a lot planned for her brand, “Carrasco Concepts.” She hopes to create a second scholarship for a college student from Watsonville, and perhaps a third to support the city’s own scholarship fund.
“We are doing this for the next generation,” Carrasco said. “We hope more than anything that it opens doors for them.”
Another piece by Carrasco was chosen last year as part of the countywide Young Voter Art Contest. The art will be on display at an upcoming PV Arts exhibit and also featured in various 2020 county election pamphlets.
“This community has been so supportive,” Carrasco said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
For information on Carrasco’s art and the “Born and Raised in Watsonville” scholarship, visit carrascoconcepts.com or find Carrasco Concepts on Facebook and Instagram.