In the early 20th century, Mexico developed a reputation as an artistic powerhouse, nurturing greats like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The tradition continues today; we’re showcasing five excellent Mexican designers.
Not only is this a chance to highlight talented designers who deserve our attention, but it’s also an opportunity to explore both those who have transcended the design traits of their country as well as those who are helping shape Mexico’s modern design reputation—one of bright colors, patterns and symbols. Enjoy!
Originating from Mexico, designer Luis Pinto works from sketches to create concepts that are magical, joyful, and often whimsical.
Many of his works feature a motif seen frequently in Mexican graphic design—flat and brightly colored backgrounds which offer contrast to detailed, multicolored subject matter. Pinto pushes this concept to the limit, working in as many as 6 deep, bright and saturated colors into the foreground content.
Another symbol of Mexican design which decorates Pinto’s work is fire, as seen on the palm of the featured design. Pinto works fire seamlessly into his decorations and patterns, which in themselves may be another nod to Mexican culture.
Living in the shadows of all time greats Saul Bass, Shigeo Fukuda, and Paul Rand no easy task—especially for a woman in the often gendered field of work that is graphic design.
While Lourdes Zolezzi definitely has a similar sensibility to said design legends, her work stands strong and is definitely worth checking out.
Zolezzi’s work is identifiable in its cut-and-paste, imperfect shapes, and compositional style, as well as its often featured powerful text relating to the imagery. While the subject matter of her work isn’t directly tied to Mexican culture, it’s worth noting that the flat, brightly saturated backgrounds do weave throughout her body of work.
Whether this comes as an influence from Bass, Fukuda and Rand, or if it comes from Mexican culture is perhaps open to interpretation. Either way, it certainly gives impact to her pieces.
Rafahu is a master illustrator from Mexico City that is well worth knowing about, especially for all you illustrators out there. Culturally, his work speaks to Mexico in it’s fiery and festive color palettes, which revolve around reds and yellows, with just a sprinkling of greens and blues.
Additionally, while very stylized in his own way, Rafahu perhaps still nods to the decorative and pattern based designs commonly associated with Mexico: In the featured example, this wonderful and festive robot is adorned with red and yellow dots, stripes, zig-zags and shapes.
While there are some aspects to Rafahu’s sensability that speak to Mexico, he doesn’t necessarily have any strings attached. His style is sharp and digital, with a hint of realism. Rather than flat, solid color fills, Rafahu explores the nuances of lighting and atmosphere.
The featured example showcases a dim, underground atmosphere, with perhaps slightly dusty air, all existing as a deep contrast to the ecstatic robot.
Mexican designer Orlando Arocena is sharp as a razor blade. Another artist who works from sketches, Arocena builds each piece up in layers, and it definitely shows in the final result—a crisp and dimensional landscape of design mastery.
Perhaps similar to Luis Pinto, Arocena is another artist who hovers a little closer to Mexican visual culture, and his work features interpretive patterns that could be seen as speaking to the ancient civilizations of Mexico. The abstract cacti and flowers could also been seen as symbols speaking to Mexican culture, not to mention the eagle—the central figure on the Mexican flag.
Eréndida Mancilla & Manolo Guerrero
Finally, we have a collaboration between two Mexican designers who comprise the independent graphic design studio Bluetypo.
What makes Eréndida Mancilla & Manolo Guerrero so notable in Mexican graphic design is that they are taking some of the signature aspects of Mexican art and design—geometry, patterns, fiery colors palettes and flat, bright background—and bringing them into a sophisticated, minimal and modern design landscape which resonates in todays design world.
The featured example was chosen because it addresses a massacre that took place in Tlatelolco, Mexico in which security opened fire on students—highlighting the designers’ roots in Mexican culture, while at the same time showcasing their interpretive, minimal style. Their work also includes tributes to Mexican icons such as Frida Kahlo.
It could be said bright, festive and fiery color palettes, solid backgrounds, geometric patterns, symbols and decorations are some of the signature traits of Mexican graphic design. With that said we live in a melting pot of design, and many of the designers showcased above put their own unique spin on these themes in ways that are both intentional and perhaps subconscious. These artists also provide context for us to ask ourselves how our design is affected by the cultures which we were raised in.
Have another favorite Mexican designer to add? Post below!
cover: Luis Pinto