Annmariz Milagros is the illustrator behind the luscious, juicy, body-positive femme characters brightening these pages right now. And she does it all in the name of self-love—a journey we all could use a little push through.
She comes from a big, artistic family. They all lived in one house, where the TV was always on and usually showing cartoons. Her favorites included Power Puff Girls, Total Drama Island and lots of anime. She surrounded herself with Sanrio stationery and in her free time she would google “anime girls” to trace the eyes of Sailor Moon and the like.
Imagining new characters was the hobby she took everywhere. In elementary school, she started a comic with two of her cousins. They cast themselves in random storylines which, looking back now, she can’t make sense of. “Did we really think this is how the world works?” she laughs, but the joy of creating characters based off herself and those around her stuck. In high school, she would tear off half sheets of paper, write the date, and draw out what happened to her that day. Her friends knew about it, so “I’d draw my crushes without their faces,”
In college, Annmariz pursued early childhood education before switching to art. She transferred from Mission College in Santa Clara to Long Beach State, where she joined a community of artists with interests similar to her own—illustration, character design, and storyboarding. Her goal at the time was to be picked up by a company. But gradually she realized: “I loved my style.” Freelancing freed her to “transform it as I go.”
Another awareness was coming into focus—why her characters looked like her. “I didn’t see anything that represents me,” she says. “I’m brown and big. I wanted to create things I’ve always wanted to see for myself.” She knew among her artist community on Twitter that there were others who wanted to see themselves related in cute, erotic art too.
These sweet and naughty, sexy and peachy girls do it all: thighs and plump asses galore, they reflect inner dialogues you just might relate to. Annmariz’s 2017 zine series Peach Gorl was inspired by all the blessings and curses of major life transitions: a break-up and adjusting to life on her own in the Long Beach area.
“It was scary being vulnerable with people, but also very cathartic,” she says. “I felt like I needed to purge out.” And if the purging didn’t change up her style some, well, what’s the point of being an artist? Most of her illustrations used to be in black and white, but “during that time, I saw more color popping out…then all the color popping out!” Her characters started to end up with pink hair—“I’ve always wanted pink hair!”—and her new color palette was guided by bright joy.
“I wanted to create things I’ve always wanted to see for myself.” -Annmariz Milagros
On the weekends through school, Annmariz worked as a caricature artist at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. For two years, she finessed her skills as an artist and as a retailer. “Especially on slow days, a lot of my day was trying to reel people in,” she explains. Once a family agreed to have their portrait done, “you had to draw as quick as you can.” She learned to finish a drawing in under three minutes; with color, under five. All the while, she interacted with the clients, asking about their day and making them laugh.
After graduation, the effects of the pandemic drew her back to family for a year. She stayed in her hometown of Milpitas, taking space during quarantine to grow her presence on social media. She also began taking commissions. “I’m still striving to diversify my characters,” she says. As she evolves, she believes her style will too. Eventually, a search for more freelancing opportunities drew her back south.
Now back in Long Beach, where she lives with her partner and a couple of their friends, you’ll find her crafting her dream day by day. She hopes to have her own studio space and meet more fellow artists working in her niche. “I’m a more introverted person, so I’m very thankful for Instagram,” she says. Online, she’s able to spark some of these relationships through mutual follows and story reactions. “I didn’t think I’d be in contact with other artists making big girl art.”
As a true morning bird, her perfect day begins with a few hours at the gym (followed by her breakfast of choice—milk and cereal), but “then it’s commissions and requests till early evening.” While she’s working, the highs and lows of her mood cycle her through playlists featuring badass female artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj, Ari Lennox, H.E.R., and Jhené Aiko.
Reflecting on herself five years ago, she states, “I would’ve been shocked I’m putting myself out there like that!” Yet, looking back shows her the power she’s carried all along.