The New Texans:
Jessica Arroyo and Daniel Santiesteban
by Liz Feezor
Photographs by Claire Schaper
“In order to grow, you must change. Generations are changing; art is changing. When you accept the change, you allow yourself to become something new; to reinvent yourself.” -Jessica Arroyo
Photographer Jessica Arroyo and artist Daniel Santiesteban are redefining what it means to say “I’m a Texan.”
Growing up in Mexico, the pair dreamed of creating a life for themselves in the arts. After marrying in 2008, and without much opportunity to pursue the life they wanted in their home country, they decided to permanently relocate across the border from Juárez to El Paso in 2009.
Once in Texas, Jessica saw her business flourish, shooting weddings and family gatherings while making a name for herself in photography. Following the birth of their daughter Regina in 2013, Daniel and Jessica found themselves at a crossroads. They knew they wanted to live somewhere that could sustain them artistically while raising a young child, so they moved across the state from El Paso to Austin in 2014.
Five years later, Jessica and Daniel are creating a life together doing what they love. Daniel is a highly sought-after tattoo artist at Dovetail Tattoo West, creating custom designs and bringing others’ visions to life in his distinct style. Jessica owns Ideology Photography, capturing people in their element through her lens.
The couple agrees that calling themselves Austinites means living in a place that gives them the freedom to do what they love, and be part of a community that aspires to do the same thing. “As artists, we can all coexist within the same community. We all have different perspectives and ways of doing things, so there isn’t a feeling of competition among people who are in the same space,” says Jessica.
Creating a family life that allows for flexibility with their respective careers is tantamount for them, with Regina’s education and development as their top priority. Their respective work influences one another as well: Jessica frequently photographs her husband and daughter, and Daniel says her work continually inspires his art.
The perception of Texas has evolved significantly over the last few decades, and Austin’s population of artists continue to influence the identity of the state. Young families like Daniel and Jessica’s are paving the way for future generations of immigrants, making a life they had only dreamed of before moving to Texas.
Daniel and Jessica are celebrating 10 years of marriage this month, and it’s an affirmation of their love for each other, their family, and the work that they do. Living in Austin continues to motivate them, and our city is made all the more beautiful and inspiring by their artistic contributions — and their love story.