Vanessa Shinmoto was born and raised in Southern California to multicultural parents in 1970. Her Colombian mother and Japanese-American father met at party and eventually settled down to raise a family in suburban Los Angeles. Vanessa and her younger sister spent summers in Bogota attending Spanish language classes and visiting coffee plantation in the Colombian countryside. The wide variety in architecture, climate and social norms impressed Vanessa and she turned to drawing and writing to document her impressions. Drawing and writing eventually gave way to a visual arts practice focused on color and shape.