The Graphic Rose Poster Show

March 2, 2006

This was the biggest thing I ever done in my career as a designer: The Graphic Rose. It was a Poster Exhibit I curated, that compiled about 120 poster made for cultural events in Spain, Havana and Quito, Ecuador. The graphic solution is a remake of a classic poster from Alfredo Rostgaard. The original poster portraits a bleeding rose, and it was created to represent the political song movement started in 1969 -known as Cancion Protesta movement-. I might not share completely the principles of that era, but I do recognize we owe a lot to the Cuban Masters from the 60’s. Rostgaard was our mentor at college and he died in 2004 when I was in Ecuador. This project was a very personal thing. I did it as a farewell to a city that really represented a lot to me, and I also payed a tribute to Rostgaard revitalizing his beloved poster -that I had in my office at Casa de las Americas in Havana.

After a year dating Juliana in Havana in 2003 we decided to meet in Quito, Ecuador in july 2004. Two years after was 2006 -and Aitana, my first daugther who was born there in the picture- I was ready to come to US. I knew that visiting Cuba from the States will become eventually complicated, so I decided to invite my friends from Havana, hang out, and do what we love the most: poster design. But the question was: who will  pay the tickets for them to come?… I remember we were at the Hilton Hotel in Amazonas St. and I said to Juliana: “What if we do a poster show… find some sponsors and bring them to Ecuador…They all are professors at ISDI, they can teach…” I had some great connections in a private Foundation -The Zaldumbides Rosales- and they connected me with the Embassy of Spain, which provided all what we wanted… and more. They also brought a silkscreen artist from Oviedo, and another great designer Isidro Ferrer, was invited too. So the project acquire an Ibero American (when Spain gets along with Latin America) dimension. Isidro Ferrer was the Best Spaniard Designer in 2002, so he was a great acquisition to the project.

Laura Llópiz, Pepe Menéndez and Eduardo Sarmiento -my friends- came from Havana and they offered three great conferences regarding the three key components of a Poster: typografy, tradition and illustration. We presented the whole show in  the house of Benjamín Carrión, a colonial-barroque mansion; we taught poster design for free (incredible… the things I’ve done for free. NO SPEC!) and we PRINTED poster in the center backyard of the house with Estampería Quiteña, a local print shop. As a result, I published a bilingual booklet with the whole experience, that became my “presentation card” in the US. That booklet was super useful. I found a job immediately in Saint Louis, at Fleishman Hillard, and Kiku Obata & Company later on.

I was able to resume at that moment what became one of my obsessions: to trace the map of the  graphic evolution of the Cuban Diaspora. I was exhausted the inauguration day, but I never regret that effort. Part of what I’m currently doing with Cubacartel -my poster page on Facebook- was rooted with The Graphic Rose Exhibit.


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