Artist Issa Barte’s collaboration with Human echoes the emotions of strangers

Artist Issa Barte’s collaboration with Human echoes the emotions of strangers

Wear your heart on your sleeve — or your tote bag.

Issa Barte is a minimalist. She tells stories with a type of placidity that can only come off of someone who understands that art and storytelling need not always be an in-your-face type of affair. She echoes the emotions from strangers’ stories through empty spaces and simplistic line art. If you scroll through her Instagram page, you’d understand that despite her minimalistic approach, her storytelling speaks volumes.

Issa is known for her art series that feature stories from strangers. She reaches out to people online and asks them to share their innermost thoughts, which she translates into art. “Art used to be something so personal to me. But now, I’ve seen it transform from something personal to something communal,” Issa shares. She started experimenting on digital art just two years ago, but has always been an artist since she was a kid. She delved into the digital arts as a means to reconnect with the artist in her, which has taken a step back when she entered college. What started as a daily drawing challenge has since become a platform for her to visualize other people’s stories. Now, she gets thousands of submissions every time she starts a new series.

“I feel like I’m a very simple person,” she laughs when I ask how she adapted her trademark art style. “The art I make reflects who I am and what I’m feeling.” As a storyteller, her creative process revolves around how she wants to tell a particular story. Capturing the emotions of the strangers who entrust her with their stories has always been the main goal. “I want people to see themselves in my work. For me, it’s always about finding the simplest ways to tell a story.”

For Issa Barte, storytelling through art is all about capturing emotions in the simplest way. | Photo by Telle Ramos

So when Human reached out to Issa for a collab, it was an easy decision to say yes. They wanted a collection that would be inclusive and get in touch with people’s feelings and emotions. They approached her with a simple brief for the collection: What makes you human?

Issa’s answer is short and straightforward: “Vulnerability and connection.” She believes that forming human connections and interacting with the people around us is what makes us human. When she creates art based on stories that are shared to her by people she doesn’t know, she feels a weird connection with them — a deeply seated intimacy that stems from knowing so much and so little at the same time. “My main gig has always been telling other people’s stories. So to be able to do this, has always been the dream.”

Issa’s collaboration with Human values human vulnerability and connections, translated into tees, hoodies and tote bags. | Photos courtesy of Human

To be able to share her and other people’s stories through art, and to connect with an even bigger audience, for Issa, has always been important. They asked people online to share their stories, and she drew inspiration from them. “I’m a Pisces. So I’m very into emotions and feelings. I feel kilig that all these people trust me so much with their stories.”

While making art is something that has always been a big part of Issa’s life when she was younger, she never really thought of making a career out of it. She took up Developmental Studies in college as a way to satiate her wanting to help other people. She founded Fund the Forest, an organization that aims to rebuild our forests and create sustainable solutions for the ongoing climate crisis. Her advocacies are intertwined with her art, as she spreads the message through her online art communities. “My passion has always been to serve, and that’s why I think my art has become communal. Art is my means of contributing myself to the causes that mean a lot to me.”

“Science is science,” she continues. “But a lot of people don’t really understand the words in all the research. So I use my art to bridge that gap, so more people can understand what’s happening.” She knows how difficult it is for some people to comprehend the ongoing climate crisis, so she does what she can to help. “It’s what we try to do at Fund the Forest. To make our generation part of something bigger.”


Follow Issa Barte ( and Human (@human_official) on Instagram. The collection will be available in Human stores.

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