Hispanic Heritage Month 2022

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from September 15 – October 15. Originally established as a week-long event and later expanded to a month-long celebration in 1988, the holiday highlights the contributions and vital presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans. To celebrate, we are highlighting Hispanic members of our local creative community to share their stories of connection, pride, and inspiration.

Efren Cavazos

Efren Cavazos is a Hispanic Art Director with over 20 years of design experience. Over the past two decades, he has honed his abilities to lead teams and keep customers at the center of everything he does. By creating an environment of collaboration and creativity, he strives to develop high-quality solutions for all stakeholders.

What does being part of the Hispanic or Latino community mean to you? 

For me, being Hispanic means the community, family, culture, hard work, and the drive to be better and achieve our dreams, as well as the dreams of our parents and grandparents, are all part of who we are.


What is an important cultural tradition in your family or community?

Family values are important in my family. As a group, we are very close to one another and are the most important social group. My family is more than just parents and children; it also reaches out to extended family members.

Since childhood, we have instilled the importance of honor, good manners, and respect for authority and elders. It is also a common practice to preserve the Spanish language within the family.


What are the proudest accomplishments of your career?
One of the highlights of my career was receiving my first award for a 10-month project. We received five awards in different categories for the same project. Getting recognized multiple times improved the experience since it was my first time winning a prize.


What Hispanic or Latino designers, artists, writers, or other creatives do you admire? And why?

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific designer and artist that I admire. However, I follow many talented creatives, to name them all.

I admire the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez because his books take you on a twisted journey of creative narration that creates elaborate, complicated plots with stories about everyday life full of humor, irony, and even comedy.

Daniel Cardoza

Daniel Cardoza is a native Texan that graduated from UH with a BFA in Graphic Design. After working in agency and studio environments in Houston he began operating an independent practice with a focus on collaborations and local projects related to brand identity, print, digital, environment, motion, and more. Continuing this work, he has taught at the University of Houston School of Art, and now holds a part-time position with rootlab (@rootlab) where he provides support on exhibition concept development, brand management, and anything else they can come up with.

What does being part of the Hispanic or Latino community mean to you?
Being part Latino brings more warmth and complexity to my multiracial identity. Knowing where I belong has been a push and pull of acceptance and rejection, whether from myself or others. Finding equilibrium for me is among all the polycentric things we embody. The Latino in me means family, so much food, resilience, music and art, a rich ancestry, and a colorful worldview that keeps my mind open to many things.

How does your Hispanic or Latino heritage impact your creative work?

In the predominantly White industry of Graphic Design, being able to show up in any way for an underrepresented group of people like Latinos brings me much pride. In my work, my diverse heritage has helped shape my voice and my ability to perceive and communicate ideas from multi-dimensional perspectives. It’s definitely brought a lot more color!


How has your creative practice evolved over the past 12 months?

I’m sure everyone can relate, but I’ve experienced quite a bit of burnout when I let fear or the unrealistic expectations of others get in the way of my self-compassion and protection. Over the past year, and more so the past few months, I have been cultivating a mindfulness in my process and showing myself kindness where I hadn’t before–to improve the quality of the work and my professional and personal relationships. Balance is key, and all of this comes with a healthy amount of urgency and stress so we continue evolving.

Photo credit: Menu signage, interiors, and flag by rootlab

Ray Hernandez

Ray Hernandez is a senior product designer based out of Houston, TX. At his current job Hello Alice, Ray designs experiences that help small business owners grow their business through educational content and provide access to funding opportunities. Besides being a product designer, Ray makes sneakers.

What does being part of the Hispanic or Latine community mean to you? 

It means a rich culture full of great people, music, art and, most importantly, FOOD.


What is an important cultural tradition in your family or community?

Spending quality time with family or friends.


How does your Hispanic or Latine heritage impact your creative work?

My parents taught me the importance of perseverance and hard work. As I become older, I frequently fall back to those qualities to keep pushing through difficulties in my career or personal life.

What are the proudest accomplishments of your career?
Working with great people through my career and leading the design of the Hello Alice Small Business Credit Card experience.

What unexpected joy or inspiration did you discover over the past 12 months?

I’m in a sneaker-making Discord group (shoutout to Hand Made Heat). Someone pointed out a story about a couple struggling to have a kid. The husband sold his coveted sneaker collection, surprising his wife with the funds for an expensive in-vitro fertilization treatment. In turn, our community reached out to the wife to surprise him with a couple of custom sneakers. It was great to be a part of this event and help a fellow sneaker head grow his collection. FYI, the IVF treatment was successful and they now have a baby boy!

What’s next on the horizon?

Continue to grow in my career and keep learning/refining my shoe making techniques. Eventually, I’m trying to create my own shoe brand.

Flor Barajas

Flor Barajas, MFA, is a visual communication designer. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Communication Design from Texas State University. At Page, Inc. Flor applies a human-centered approach when designing concept-driven editorials, branding, and UX/UI digital marketing projects across multidisciplinary market sectors. 

What does being part of the Hispanic or Latino community mean to you? 

Orgullosamente Mexicana! My design approach comes from practicing The American Institute of Graphic Arts – Women’s Leadership Initiative model which encourages strengthening design knowledge, and leadership skills, and facilitating relationships within and beyond the design industry. 

This research-based thesis project documents the exploratory social research study, the environmental graphic design of an interactive traveling exhibition called Designing Perspectives, and a collaborative manifesto, titled ¡Porque soy Mexicana!. I designed these two creative outcomes to celebrate the mutual influence and support of each Mexican woman designer who participated in the exploratory research study.

This project intends to highlight cultural identity awareness by encouraging knowledge of contemporary Mexican women in graphic design in Mexico City. The intention being that future generations of up-and-coming worldwide designers will be able to identify these Mexican women creative directors and view them as inspiration for their design practices.

Mujeres Mexicanas del Diseño Gráfico: Showcasing the Current Women Creative Directors of Graphic Design in Mexico City.


How does your Hispanic or Latino heritage impact your creative work?

My design work has led me to speak in several panels during Austin Design Week, the SXSW Innovation Lab, the AIGA Grow Conference in Austin, the Tipografía Mexico Conference at UDEM in Monterrey, Mexico, and Inedito Design Week 2020 in Mexico City. I was part of the panelists at the Typography Mexico Conference at UDEM and I talked about how my Hispanic heritage influences my design and typography.

See attached links to my bilingual Typography Heritage talk at UDEM, and a video about Designing Perspectives for Inedito Design Week Mexico 2020. 

Designing Perspectives–Visual Storytelling of the Women Creative Directors in Mexico City

The Letters on my Head – UDEM – Tipografía Mexico

What are the proudest accomplishments of your career?
The interactive traveling exhibition, Designing Perspectives, generates and continues the conversation about the interconnectedness of gender equality and diversity in the design industry in Mexico City. Therefore, Designing Perspectives has fulfilled the objective of being an interactive traveling exhibition because it is part of the Inédito exhibition at Design Week Mexico in Mexico City. The Inédito exhibition is an international exhibition part of Design Week Mexico hosted in Mexico City every year at the Espacio CDMX art and design gallery. The main goal of Designing Perspectives is to recognize contemporary Mexican designers and, in doing so, confront the male-dominated field of design by generating awareness and instigating productive conversations. At the same time, the audience is immersed in the interactive exhibition. Currently looking to collaborate with art galleries to display Designing Perspectives in Houston, Texas. Let’s collaborate! 

Ivan Cortez

Ivan Cortez is a video and motion designer focused on lifestyle and corporate work. 

What does being part of the Hispanic or Latine community mean to you? 

Being Hispanic is an honor. I love to be a presence in the creative community. 


How does your Hispanic or Latine heritage impact your creative work?

It impacts every project because as a Latino, I love when I can give inspiration to other Latinos and show them we all can achieve the same goals. 

What are the proudest accomplishments of your career?
At the moment, one of my greatest achievements is having my own clients, developing my career every day and having the opportunity to spend valuable time with my family. 


How has your creative practice evolved over the past 12 months?

I’ve been having more direct-to-client conversations, which enables me to take my business to the next level. I can still focus on my career and am able to have my own office at home. 

What unexpected joy or inspiration did you discover over the past 12 months?

Having a kid really changed my life. Before, I used to take every opportunity without thinking. Right now, I always think what’s gonna be the best for him and my family. 

What Hispanic or Latine designers, artists, writers, or other creatives do you admire? And why?

One of my favorite Latino artists is David Maldonado (@capdavjon). I’ve seen his career grow so fast in the past years that I really admire him and he truly deserves it.

Where do you find inspiration?
This is a hard answer because it happens every day from different places. It can be a book, a video, my family, nature, or outdoors. It mostly depends on what I’m doing and feeling at the moment. 

What’s next on the horizon?

Keep developing my career to provide a better future for my family and myself. Every year, I set up new goals. 

Cataryna Galan

Cataryna Galan is currently a UI/UX designer at TDECU. She’s originally from Houston and has an overwhelming love for the city. She likes to keep up with advancements in design, tech and psychology. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, running and spending time with her loved ones.

How does your Hispanic or Latine heritage impact your creative work?

I think growing up in an Mexican-American family has given me a unique perspective of the two cultures and what it looks like to blend them together.

What Hispanic or Latine designers, artists, writers, or other creatives do you admire? And why?

I think Guillermo del Toro’s movies are absolutely riveting. The creative stories and compelling imagery he presents are unique and slightly strange, but I find it really refreshing.

Where do you find inspiration?
For UX/UI inspiration, I use sites like Dribbble and Behance or podcasts such as Design Better Podcast and Design Details.

Diego Martinez

Diego Martinez recently graduated with a BFA from the University of Houston’s Graphic Design Block program. He finds passion in learning new things constantly, with his current obsessions being in 2D kinetic typography and 3D physics simulations done in Cinema4D. Diego is currently working for Los Angeles-based @Mouthwash.studio as a Motion Design Intern.

What does being part of the Hispanic or Latine community mean to you? 

I think this is hard to define, but if I had to sum it up, I would say it means building up those around me along with myself. I have a lot of friends who are also Latino and seeing them find success in our industry, or in other industries for that matter, is hugely inspiring and motivating to me. While I believe we are not defined by our ethnicity or race, I do feel it is important to see people I share a heritage with find success and push the needle of progress forward.


What is an important cultural tradition in your family or community?

Celebrating Mexican Mother’s Day. My mom came to this country as an undocumented immigrant when she was a child and had to work insanely hard for everything that she got—and continues to do so to this day. Her hard work has always ensured that I have as many advantages as possible. Without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and while honoring her one day out of the year isn’t nearly enough, it is something we do every year to show our gratitude for all that she’s done.

What are the proudest accomplishments of your career?
The absolute pinnacle accomplishment of my very short career is being given an opportunity to work with an insanely talented group of people at @Mouthwash.studio. I followed their work while in school and always sought to join a studio like theirs. So when they came knocking, it felt unbelievable and helped cut away a lot of doubt I had about myself and my work.

What unexpected joy or inspiration did you discover over the past 12 months?

3D! I stumbled upon a couple of tutorials in Cinema4D in 2021, and I immediately fell in love. I spend my time off from work just making the most random things, a lot of which will never see the light of day. It brings me tremendous joy to learn something new in Cinema4D, and while it hasn’t been heavily used in my career yet, there is a lot of anticipation for it to become a part of my daily workflow in the next several months.

What’s next on the horizon?

Moving to Los Angeles within the next year to join my team and continuing my journey of growth in Motion and 3D design.

Ernesto I Sandoval

Ernesto Sandoval is a Mexican-American, South Houston native visual artist and illustrator, University of Houston dropout and owner of Kneat Creative Group, a design services and narrative driven clothing line.


How does your Hispanic or Latine heritage impact your creative work?

For the past few years, the importance of incorporating and highlighting my Latino heritage has increased. As artists, we take on many responsibilities to our communities. For myself, the one I’ve focused on is bridging the art gap between the modern day “Chicanos” and our late ancestors the Aztecs. Showing the evolution of our heritage over the centuries helps us remember where we come from. The beauty in our ancient art and the genius of our architecture brings me a tremendous sense of pride.

What are the proudest accomplishments of your career?
Being a part of something bigger than myself is one of my proudest accomplishments. Starting a clothing line was always something I wanted to do since I discovered Johnny Cupcakes. I founded Kneat with my great friend Salvador Martinez III in 2018. With Kneat (@kneat.art), we chose to not identify as a clothing brand but a creative group utilizing visual arts to encourage introspection, cultivate our community and spread positivity. We created something to serve as the following: 

Support for the defeated: a reminder that we are not alone in our struggles and should try to recognize these valuable moments of discomfort as opportunities for growth.

Encouragement for the inspired: may we uplift one another with our energy and relentlessly pursue the actualization of our dreams and aspirations. 

A celebration of life itself: Life and death, love and heartbreak, good and bad. ALL OF IT. ¡Y siempre celebrando la riqueza de nuestra cultura latina!

What unexpected joy or inspiration did you discover over the past 12 months?

Mangos. The amount of appreciation I have for the beautiful delicious fruit is wild. Please have yourself a mango. You deserve it.

What Hispanic or Latinoe designers, artists, writers, or other creatives do you admire? And why?

I’ll start with three artists I’ve admired the longest. I fell in love with their work before I even knew their name or that they were Latino. Smithe One, César Moreno and local Houston legend, Daniel Anguilu. Each of them has a unique style that when you see it, you know it’s their work. I love that in an artist—a true form of expression. But nothing grasps me more than music. Natalia Lafourcade, Chicano Batman, Esteban Gabriel, Ambar Lucid and MANÁ are all examples of artists that don’t try to be anything but themselves. Hearing their beautiful music and thinking we come from the same culture brings me overwhelming joy. I literally cry every time I watch Selena perform at the Astrodome. Lastly, our Houston creatives! Roxy and Steven from Sweet Roars (@sweetroars), Marlén Mendoza from Amanecer Co. Coffee (@cafesitahtx), Daniel Leal head chef at Local Group Brewing (@localgroupbrew), and Victoria Elizondo owner of Cochinita & Co. (@cochinitaco). Some might not consider them creatives, but as a business owner, I think the majority of one’s responsibilities are creative problem solving. Check them out!

Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration for my subject matter comes from my everyday life and a big part of my life is my sobriety. I started getting sober in 2014. Since then I’ve been in and out of AA meetings trying to better myself. I will be 4 years sober come October. Sobriety has brought me so much clarity and given me a different perspective on life. Before, I would chase the highs and numb the lows with my addictions. Now, I welcome the highs and the lows as they come and accept that they are all a necessary part of life. AA has taught me many important lessons: how to first be honest with myself, the importance of empathy and compassion, and the power of love and community. But most importantly, we as people all experience the same emotions and universal struggles. They might manifest in different ways in our lives, but we have so much more in common that we think regardless of race, creed, class or gender. What allows for this important connection is true vulnerability that only comes when we share our unique perspectives and experiences with each other. Good or bad. 

Candice Cantu

Candice Cantu was born and raised in Houston, Texas and has always had a love for art, music and writing. She attended the University of Houston where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication, which taught her how to apply her ideas into creative work for clients. After graduating, she dove into photography but still practices graphic design, illustration and more.

What does being part of the Hispanic or Latine community mean to you? 

To me, being part of the Hispanic community means unity and support. My family has always been tight-knit and takes care of one another. We always make sure to come together and not allow our conflicts or differences to keep us from loving one another. We celebrate victories together, we grieve together, and when someone needs help, we step in together. This is a huge part of who I am as a person and in what I want to accomplish in my work no matter the medium.

What unexpected joy or inspiration did you discover over the past 12 months?

I recently went to the library and stumbled upon some graphic novels and was immediately in love with not just the illustrations but the storytelling. I’ve read graphic novels about kids overcoming depression and anxiety, girls dealing with changing bodies and more. Also having a little sister who enjoys reading them has given me the itch to return to drawing and practice storytelling in ways that could help my sister and other young girls navigate emotions and life in general.

What Hispanic or Latine designers, artists, writers, or other creatives do you admire? And why?

I adore Valheria Rocha’s photography work. Her creativity and craft knows no bounds whether it be set design, prop building or collage art. She uses her love for mixed media, playful and vibrant color palettes, and theatricality to give each project its own distinct personality. Also, I have always been obsessed with the illustrative work of Alphonse Mucha and his stylized posters.

What’s next on the horizon?

I think it would be amazing to design a book for women to enjoy—using my photography paired with journaling and self-expression challenges and featuring personal stories of self growth from others. I have always been passionate about women discovering their voices and finding their sense of self worth after past traumas, because it has been my journey as well. My dream has always been to use my creative work to help others be their best and healthiest selves.

Robert Macias

Robert Macias is a director of photography. Robert has been working professionally for over 15 years doing corporate communication and video production, and more recently pursued his passion as a filmmaker. His love for filmmaking allows Robert to share stories in a visual format. His goal is to create compelling narratives through storytelling and deliver great entertainment through visual creative art.


What is an important cultural tradition in your family or community?

I find that our food plays an important tradition in my family. Some of my fondest memories as a young kid was helping make tamales with my family. As we kept the tradition going, my Abuelita no longer had the strength to prepare the masa (dough for tamales), so I was tasked with preparing it. We would make big meals for the holidays and had to ensure we had plenty to go around for our friends and family to enjoy. 

What Hispanic or Latine designers, artists, writers, or other creatives do you admire? And why?

One of my favorite books is “Journey to Ixtlan” by Carlos Castaneda. This was the first of his books which I read and enjoyed. Fascinated by the character in the story looking to gain knowledge, I learned as the character did. 

Where do you find inspiration?
Recently, I have been traveling and visited the historic place Chichén Itzá in Yucatan, Mexico.  I find these places offer a rejuvenating perspective on one’s creativity.  As I travel and learn about different cultures, the more I want to share those experiences through my work.

What’s next on the horizon?

Recently, I left my previous employer to start my own business in video production. This has been a big step for me to take in my career. I am looking forward to the adventures ahead, not only being successful in business but to continue delivering great stories.

Check Out Robert’s Photography Demo Reel

By aigahouston
Published September 19, 2022
Comments
AIGA encourages thoughtful, responsible discourse. Please add comments judiciously, and refrain from maligning any individual, institution or body of work. Read our policy on commenting.