You are currently viewing Word of Mouth: Atlanta Conversations — Vanessa Toro, Artist + Designer

Vanessa Toro is a dreamer-doer type. Constant transformation, and fighting for worthwhile causes, is clearly what keeps this tremendous talent going.  Somehow the Atlanta-based writer, photographer, designer and strategist harnesses her energy to vacillate between a variety of art forms. A “South American living in the Dirty South,” Toro is wicked smart and funny. Equal parts cerebral and creative, she cannot sit still and is, therefore, always in production mode.

Ventures, from her unconventional event company Revel Forces to t-shirt line Rabble & Rouse, have a track record of routinely taking off on their own. Of course, the impetus is to make something that she herself yearns for. Requests then come in for replications. If the hobby holds her attention, then the savvy businesswoman is off to configuring scalability. 

The curious creature with a knack for shaping culture would be so very intimidating if she wasn’t so inspiring.  

“By day, I am known as an Inspiration Provider for a global advertising agency. I determine what our campaigns will say and whom they’ll speak to. My work week has no routine. One day I’ll research a particular word, and the next I’ll create an outdoor conference room to inspire my team, and ensure they don’t become complacent. The best part is I am completely accepted for who I am.

Compared to New York City, where I used to live, the art scene in Atlanta is scrappy and DIY. While there are high-end galleries, there’s also a lowbrow, accessible entry point that I really appreciate. It is a celebration of those who can’t help but create. If you want to do a show you just make it happen instead of having to bypass the velvet ropes. There is room for everyone and a “come as you are” mentality. Most of Atlanta’s residents recognize that if the artists leave, everything cool goes with them.

Like everything that I do, my t-shirt company stemmed from a conversation and my interest in a particular subject. This time it was becoming mindful in terms of how negative thoughts shape the brain. After reading something, we oftentimes internalize and act upon it. My intention with Rabble & Rouse is to interject positivity into a constant onslaught of pessimism. As a political person, with lots of opinions, it’s also an unfiltered outlet where I don’t have to be diplomatic.

Particularly, right now, I think the “give no fucks,” mentality is really disheartening. For me, apparel can serve as a bat signal to your tribe. It’s a way to communicate without saying a word and to attract conversation and dialogue. The ultimate compliment would be to see a big-time activist get arrested in one of my shirts. Whimsy has a place, yet must be balanced with giving a damn.”


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