Great Big Story went to Mexico City to talk to the very talented Linares family of cartoneros, creators of wonderful alebrijes – great big, imaginative, brightly painted papier-mâché monsters. The idea came to Pedro Linares as speaking monsters while he was comatose in 1936. Once he recovered, Pedro set about to create this unique trade, which eventually became very successful. In fact, Pedros designs brought international recognition to the craft during the 1968 Summer Olympics, although according to his grandson, some of his first designs were a bit off putting.
Initially, my grandpa made the alebrijes so horrific, that he couldn’t sell them. So he had to modify them a little bit. He added color to them, that way, the figures were not so scary. Then it was my dad who gave the alebrijes all of their plasticity, all the movement. My dad gave the alebrijes a new spin. He included more feathers, ornaments, bulging eyes, crests. He made them more harmonious.