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The Mariachi stamp collection is part of Lopez’s most recent artwork with the country’s Post Office. Photo: Courtesy Rafael López
The Mariachi stamp collection is part of Lopez’s most recent artwork with the country’s Post Office. Photo: Courtesy Rafael López

Rafael Lopez, the illustrator of mariachis

This Mexican artist has been illustrating his way of seeing the world for more than 40 years.

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The sound of trumpets, mixed with guitars and a husky voice that sings the lyrics of songs dedicated to love and sentiment, has turned ranchera music and the mariachi into the symbol of an entire community that feels represented through its sounds, not only in Mexico but beyond its borders. 

This magic of ranchera music is what Rafael Lopez, a conceptual illustrator born in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and with a studio in San Diego, seeks to convey through his art. 

"My inspiration comes from music, from movies, from thousands of things I see when I go out on the street and from new things I meet," López told Al Día News. "I want to transmit to people the way I see mariachis and the history they have had through the years." 

Rafael Lopez designed in 2012 a series of stamps for the U.S. Postal Service where he was inspired by iconic Latin singers such as Carlos Gardel, Tito Puentes, Celia Cruz and Selena. This collection was called 'Latin Legends' and is now part of the postal service's permanent collection. 

Ten years later, Lopez has been called upon again to illustrate a series of prints inspired by mariachi music. 

"I wanted to do something that felt nostalgic and emotional, something that was a combination of my life, how I saw the mariachis and what they really were in history," says López, who was also inspired by the old parks, as these were the places where the mariachis began to play at the beginning of the last century. 

This artistic achievement is very important because each year the postal service chooses only 20 themes for its stamps. These themes must have a history and also represent the community in the United States, which is why it is so relevant that the mariachis are part of this new concept of Latinity that is being created in the country. 

"The truth is that there are not enough songs that celebrate the contribution of Latinos in the U.S. Postal Service, which is why this collection is so important," remarked the artist.  

As advice for all those new artists who want to continue contributing to Latino recognition in the world, Rafael Lopez suggests having a lot of patience and taking advantage of life "that flies by". 

"I tell them to look inside themselves and not be afraid to express themselves. Don't be afraid that the public will judge you, because art can also change people's lives and bring the community together," he said at the end.

The complete collection of stamps will go on sale in all the country's post offices around the month of July and those who are interested can get them to send their letters or to collect these beautiful illustrations made by the hands of the Mexican artist.

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