Strategizing Visibility for Latino Creative Professionals

On Wednesday, October 5th, the second of our panel events was held at the School of Visual Arts.

Moderated by MTV2’s Desi Sanchez, the panel addressed specialized employment opportunities in the bilingual marketplace and how a Latino background can be an asset in an increasingly competitive job market.

Panelists included: Javier Fuentes, vice president and executive creative director, Vidal Partnership; Luigi Laguna, actor, voice-over artist, principal and owner, BeBu Leather Accessories; Alison Meislin, recruiter, Vitamin T; and Elizabeth Pastor, partner and co-founder, Humantific, and co-founder, NextDesign Leadership Institute.

A full video of the event was recorded for all of those who could not attend.  Please check it out below.

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Profiles: Elizabeth Pastor

Born in Madrid, Elizabeth Pastor is co-founder of Humantific and director of its UnderstandingLab. She is an innovation consultant, facilitator and trainer with a unique expertise in Visual SenseMaking and Strategic Co-Creation. Her passion lies in helping people learn, understand and make sense of complex situations in new and inclusive ways. She is also co-founder of NextDesign Leadership Institute, where she teaches Visual SenseMaking and Strategic CoCreation as part of NextD’s Complexity Navigation Program. Prior to founding Humantific, Elizabeth co-founded Scient’s Innovation Acceleration Labs, with GK VanPatter. She holds a master’s degree from Art Center College of Design in California, where she focused on the power of information design to enhance the learning process. Her present research involves SenseMaking for ChangeMaking in social and organizational contexts. Elizabeth is a frequent speaker at conferences in the U.S. and Europe.

Q: Do you find that a different sensibility is required when communicating visually to a bilingual community?

A: You should always know who you are communicating to (or collaborating with) to create exceptional experiences that speak to them and engage them. If you are communicating to a bilingual community this is something that you must take into consideration. It’s the same way as when I speak with a friend who is bilingual… I probably say things differently. Don’t you?

Q: As a creative professional, how do you find that this affects your practice?

A: I would say it enhances my practice, because being culturally bilingual is multi-faceted, and that is usually an advantage in business. Being able to understand and connect with several cultures in a deep way is not only enriching and fun, but it gives you an extra edge. Who doesn’t want an extra edge?

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Elizabeth will be one of the four speakers at our upcoming event on October 5th.  For more details on the panel and to RSVP, click here.

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Profiles: Javier Fuentes

Javier Fuentes, Vice President and Creative Director at Vidal Partnership, began his career as a copywriter in Madrid at Publicis Grupo K. Previous to working at Vidal Partnership, Fuentes was at Lapiz—the Hispanic Division of Leo Burnett—to work on the Coca-Cola account. He has served as a judge at FIAP (Festival Iberoamericano de Publicidad), The ADDY Awards and the Radio Mercury Awards. His work has been recognized in advertising festivals such as: FIAP, Ojo de Iberoamerica, Radio Mercury Awards, Festival de San Sebastian, and AdAge/Hispanic Advertising Awards, among others. Since 2006 Fuentes is a member of the Creative Committee for the Ad Council. He’s currently enrolled in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Columbia University.

Q: In your line of work, have you found that a different sensibility is required when communicating visually to a bilingual market?

A: I don’t think that you need a different sensibility but you definitely need to understand the different cultural insights that play a role in the way you communicate with your target.

Q: We’ve been asking this question to all our panelists; what do you view as the role of the Hispanic creative professional in contemporary America?

A: I think that the role of Hispanic Advertising is changing rapidly. There’s a trend that demands more creatives that not only can navigate in both worlds, but that are also fluent in both languages. As the Latino target becomes the bigger part of the pie, we are going to see a shift in the the way brands communicate with their consumers.  Take McDonald’s, for example.

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To RSVP for the panel discussion on October 5th, click here.

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Profiles: Desi Sanchez

Born and raised in New York City and educated at SVA, Desi Sanchez is a TV personality, artist and musician with credits in print, broadcast and online media. Best known for her VJ work on MTV2, Sanchez was also the 5-year host of the FOX TV show LatiNation, and is currently a Fill-In Anchor on E! News Now as well as the face of iO TV’s Optimum Insider commercials. Desi also lends her voice to national radio imaging on Sirius XM for stations such as Octane and HairNation.

Desi is the moderator for the upcoming event on October 5th, Strategizing Visibility for Latino Creative Professionals.  She has previously collaborated with SVA’s Division of Continuing Education as moderator of the inaugural panel Hispanic Professionals in the Arts.

Photo by Rod Savant

Q: As you know, we’ve been asking all our speakers this one question: what do you think is the role of the Hispanic visual professional is contemporary America?

A: As the Hispanic population grows to ever greater proportions, so does the need to communicate to this demographic in specific, targeted, multi-cultural marketing efforts. However, simultaneously, the Hispanic experience is becoming more and more universal – we’re no longer a small minority, and our participation in mainstream American media and culture has transformed the American cultural landscape. This means that even in general market campaigns, it is necessary to keep us in mind – “we” are “them” now, too.

With a natural solution to this need, comes the Hispanic creative professional. Well-versed in this bi-cultural and bi-lingual world, we are able to draw from both sides and create visual media that is universally relatable, culturally relevant, and linguistically accurate. In addition, I feel it is also our responsibility to do so in ways that uplift, respect, and promote a sense of unity.

Q: Do you think there’s a need to educate people on this niche market?

A: Here in NYC it would seem impossible that anyone could not be aware of the need to address this market, even to the point of perhaps not even considering it a “niche” at all. With the huge Hispanic population in this city, it seems practically mass-market, these days.

That said, when I watch national commercials, take a look at print campaigns, and look at some of the product design on shelves, it often appears that some of the efforts to market to Hispanics were done with a clumsy and heavy hand – palm trees and red lipstick abound. So perhaps some educating is in order.

I think the challenges here, are the same as with any other perceived racial or cultural issue – fears, misconceptions, ignorance …as well as many of the challenges associated with teaching people in general: inertia, laziness and inflexibility are always downers. But specific to this market, sometimes the very diverse nature of the Hispanic population can cause its essence to be elusive, or over-generalized. So it’s important, I think, to always ask and not assume when it comes to what resonates with Hispanics – and accept that often, there will be conflicting responses.

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For more details on the upcoming event, and to RSVP, please click here.

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Profiles: Alison Meislin

Born and raised in Arizona, Alison Meislin moved to San Francisco after receiving her master’s degree in psychology, where she managed the Compass Family Shelter. Thereafter, she transitioned into the technology field, working in sales and recruiting for Yelp and Vitamin T. Currently a recruiter for Vitamin T in New York City, she helps Creative Web, Online Marketing, and Graphic Designers find exciting positions in the city.

Q: What do you view as the role of the Hispanic creative professional in Contemporary America?

A: The role of the Creative Professional in Contemporary America is trending to be one of much importance, and the demand for bilingual talent is very high. In the vast majority of cases, if I were to place two creative candidates who looked identical on paper in front of my clients, and one was bilingual and the other not, the bilingual candidate would get chosen.

As language tends to vary by dialect, and culture by region, the bilingual and bi-cultural creative becomes invaluable, helping to bridge the communication gap. This is beneficial to our clients because it means everything from content to actual web development is effectively reaching all intended audiences, and thus driving in more revenue.

As the Latino population continues to increase in America, the bi-cultural creative professional will only continue to become more in demand.

Q: Do you think there is a need to educate others on this niche market and, if so, what do you think the challenges are in doing so?

A: Considering all of the above listed attributes Latinos offer in the professional workplace, I believe educating people on their market is important but not nearly as prevalent as it should be.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge is a lack of recognition. The nature of being a minority means less of an overall presence. While there are many notably successful Latino professionals in today’s business world, such as Samuel A. Ramirez, Sr. and Nina Tassler, they do not have as strong of a voice.

Therefore, demographics are not mirrored from the top of companies down to the bottom. Until there is more diversity, there will be less of an understanding. And with less of an understanding, there is less of an urgency to educate on how beneficial hiring from the Latino Market can be.

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Alison is one of the four panelists speaking at our next panel Strategizing Visibility for Latino Creative Professionals.  For more information on the event and to RSVP please click here.

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Profiles: Luigi Laguna

Born in Mexico, designer Luigi Laguna’s entrepreneurship began in 1987 when he helped open his family’s electronics business. After a successful career as an actor in both the United States and his native Mexico, he started BéBU Leather Accessories. Inspired by Mexico’s ancient Aztec and Mayan heritage, his designs are sold through high-end boutiques and retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys and Anthropologie. His designs have been featured in publications such as the Italian magazine Inscena and the U.S. magazine Latina, and have been worn by celebrities including Michelle Pfeiffer, Ricky Martin, and Shakira. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and an acting degree from the Centro de Educación Artística (Mexico).

Q: Do you find that a different sensibility is required when communicating visually to a bilingual community?

A: Yes.  You must bring distinctive sensibilities that connect to cultural and linguistic differences.

Q: What do you view as the role of the Hispanic creative professional in contemporary America?

A: There is an openness and newness to Latin designs and Latin professionals currently in America.  I think Latinos can establish and shape positive history and a powerful future by demonstrating innovation, leadership, and creativity while maintaining a sense of Latin sensibility.

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Luigi is one of the four panelists speaking at our next panel Strategizing Visibility for Latino Creative Professionals.  For more information on the event and to RSVP please click here.

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Motivations: NYDesigns

NYDesigns, in collaboration with Hostos Community College and with generous funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA), surveyed and interviewed 70 Latino designers to gauge the state of design entrepreneurship within New York City’s rapidly expanding Latino community. The study assessed key challenges and proposed strategies that would benefit Latino designers most in propelling their business forward. The report, Créate: Diseñadores de Nueva York, was published in the late Summer of 2010.

One of the recommendations from the report was the creation/development of a professional network for Latino Designers.

The survey and interview respondents expressed frustration at some point in their careers trying to access knowledge and expertise on practices and methodologies standard in the design business. An organization or network facilitating the sharing of ideas and experience between more experienced and less experienced designers would help resolve some of these issues. Such an organization could also advocate for and promote the interests of Latino designers and involve itself in civic projects, for example the mentorship of young adults curious in exploring a future in design. So: this was NYDesigns’ response. Through a networking event, we started brainstorming with SVA and year later, here we are.

You can learn more about the report and the full initiative here.

Also: RSVP here for our upcoming Conversacion on October 5th!

Starting the public series

In May of 2011 the Division of Continuing Education at the School of Visual Arts presented the first event in its series Conversaciones as part of its ¿Hablas Diseño? program. The inaugural event, Hispanic Professionals in the Arts, explored some of the visual communication challenges in the Hispanic community and how bilingual and bicultural designers and illustrators were responding. Moderated by MTV2’s Desi Sanchez, panelists include: Laura Alejo, art director at HUSH; Rafael Esquer, principal at Alfalfa Studio; Mad cartoonist Felipe Galindo (Feggo); Jessica Perilla, creative director at JPD Studio; and José Luis Ortiz Téllez, a designer, consultant and educator.

From left to right: Laura Alejo, Felipe Galindo, Desi Sanchez, Rafael Esquer. Jessica Perilla, and Jose Luis Ortiz Tellez

The event served as an introduction to the major themes and issues that were identified as key within the community: identity, language as a barrier/opportunity, the role of artist in the community, and the need for organized networks and business resources. One of the recurring themes of the evening was the unprecedented demand for creative talent in Hispanic media.

For future events the Division of Continuing Education is now partnering with Créate@NYDesings to continue the series and bring their two communities together. The next panel will be held on Wednesday, October 5th at 7:00 pm.  Space is limited, so please be sure to RSVP at eventbrite.

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We want you to be part of the dialogue.  Follow our blog and become a fan of our Facebook pages: ¿Hablas Diseño? at the School of Visual Arts and NYDesigns.

Panel discussion on October 5th: Strategizing Visibility for Latino Creative Professionals

            Wednesday, October 5, 7pm

            School of Visual Arts

            209 East 23 Street, 3rd-floor Amphitheater

            Free and open to the public

            Space is limited; RSVP on eventbrite by October 4th

¿Hablas Diseño? at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and Créate@NYDesigns present Strategizing Visibility for Latino Creative Professionals, as part of CONVERSACIONES: Latinos in Creative Industries, an ongoing series of public lectures featuring some of New York’s most accomplished Latino creative professionals.

Moderated by MTV2’s Desi Sanchez, the panel will address specialized employment opportunities in the bilingual marketplace and how a Latino background can be an asset in an increasingly competitive job market.

Panelists include: Javier Fuentes, vice president and executive creative director, Vidal Partnership; Luigi Laguna, actor, voice-over artist, principal and owner, BeBu Leather Accessories; Alison Meislin, recruiter, Vitamin T; and Elizabeth Pastor, partner and co-founder, Humantific, and co-founder, NextDesign Leadership Institute. Conducted in English, the discussion will take place on Wednesday, October 5, 7pm at 209 East 23rd Street, New York City. Admission is free and open to the public. RSVP on eventbrite by Tuesday, October 4

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The New York metropolitan area’s Latino population numbered 50 million in the 2010 census, up from 35 million in the 2000 census. Along with the consumer clout of the Spanish-speaking community, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the City is on the rise. Yet many Latinos face ongoing challenges in realizing their full earning potential, and the Latino business community has encountered obstacles to expansion and increased productivity. One under-recognized aspect of the economic picture is the growing need for creative talent in a bilingual market like that of the Latino community.

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