Culture

California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

Jesus Ruvalcaba was an artist looking for more creative freedom in his life. Even after getting a job as an art director at eBay and Hewlett-Packard in Silicon Valley, the then 36-year-old felt complacent. It was a stop at a grocery store when he went to buy his mother a birthday card that a light bulb flashed in his head. 

“I looked at all these cards but couldn’t find something that resonated with my Latino culture,” Ruvalcaba said. “I felt that an entire population group was being ignored.”

That night planted the seeds of what would eventually become Paper Tacos, a greeting card business focusing on Mexican culture and traditions. From get well soon messages that read “sana sana colita de rana” ((heal, heal little frog) to birthday cards that read “sapo verde,” Ruvalcaba had tapped into a demographic that wasn’t typically represented in the greeting card business. 

“I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like this,” he said. “This was more than just about a greeting card but seeing my culture being seen.” 

Ruvalcaba, the son of two Mexican immigrants, got most of his inspiration growing up in the Central Valley fields of California. He worked alongside his parents in the isolated artichoke fields where he learned to draw. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

Ruvalcaba knew he wanted to be an artist at a young age and says growing up he would usually be found carrying around a sketchbook full of drawings. He didn’t grow up with much as his parents were Mexican immigrants who worked tirelessly as fieldworkers in the central California valley in cities like Castroville and later in Salinas. 

“My parents didn’t really know a lick of English so my drawings did a lot of the talking for me,” he says. “We didn’t have much growing up but they would buy me art supplies and always encouraged me to keep drawing.”

Those drawings would pave the way for a career in animation as Ruvalcaba became the first in his family to graduate college obtained a degree in graphic design at California State University Monterey Bay and eventually his Master’s degree. Shortly after, he would find himself in Silicon Valley working for companies like eBay and Hewlett-Packard as an art director. 

Ruvalcaba knew he could still do more with his talents. After attending a Dia de los Muertos art event in 2016, he met another artist selling Spanish prints with Mexican slogans. He was then reminded of that night at the market when he couldn’t find a Spanish greeting card for his mom. 

“It hit me right there and then that if I could come up with greeting cards that have Mexican sayings like “sana sana colita de rana,” I could tap into a market that was never really acknowledged prior.” Ruvalcaba said. 

After receiving encouragement from his girlfriend, Ruvalcaba put his illustration skills and graphic design experience to work as he produced his first set of 15 cards for 300 dollars. In Fall 2017, Paper Tacos became a reality. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

About a year after the idea of Paper Tacos first came up, Ruvalcaba attended the same art festival from the year prior and sold his first greeting card for $5 apiece. The response to the cards was immediate and customers told Ruvalcaba about what it meant to see their culture on a product like this.

“It felt like my idea was validated in a way and seeing everyone respond so positively to Paper Tacos was just the cherry on top,” said Ruvalcaba. “From there it only got even bigger.”

In the following months of 2017, Paper Tacos made its launch and by the end of 2017, he had made $2,000 within just three months of launching his site. In 2018, he had made over $12,000 in sales and today has over 20K followers on Instagram alone. When he started the business, there were only 15 card designs which have now grown to over 100. He’s also branded outside of California and is currently selling his greeting cards at 25 stores throughout the country.

For Ruvalcaba, Paper Tacos hasn’t been just any business move or a little extra income revenue. It’s a tribute to his Mexican background and a reflection of his culture that he feels is being celebrated every time one of his cards is given. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

When asked about where his inspiration for his greeting cards come from, Ruvalcaba says his parents. Those long days working along with them in the artichoke fields and holidays where all they had was each other. 

“Every card is a reflection of me growing up in a Mexican household and other people have connected with that,” said Ruvalcaba. “When I brainstorm ideas I just look back to my childhood.”

That connection is something special he says. While Ruvalcaba still has a full-time job as a designer in Santa Clara, if things keep going the way they are, Paper Tacos will become his main focus. 

Through Instagram, Ruvalcaba has begun working with more freelancers to keep growing Paper Tacos and get more artists opportunities. His business plan is to expand to other Latino backgrounds to work and reach out to Salvadoran and Nicaraguan artists so that they too can see representation.  

“This business has shown me how powerful this product can be and every time someone tells me the impact that these cards have had on a family member or a friend, it sticks with me,” Ruvalcaba says. “It’s a special thing to know a simple greeting card can do this.”

READ: Patty Delgado Is Changing The World Of Latino Fashion With Her Own Store Hija De Tu Madre

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Four Mexican Children Have Been Nominated For The Children’s Peace Prize And Here’s Why They Each Deserve To Win

Things That Matter

Four Mexican Children Have Been Nominated For The Children’s Peace Prize And Here’s Why They Each Deserve To Win

Yasin Yagci / Getty Images

Mexico is celebrating four compassionate children who have each been nominated for a prestigious international award, for their dedication to solving issues within their own communities.

Three kids from Oaxaca and one from Sinaloa have been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Award – which is award to children from around the world who have made an effort to promote the rights of children and improve the situation of vulnerable minors.

Each of Mexico’s four nominees have done so much for their communities – and the world at large – that it’s going to be a close contest to decide who is the ultimate winner.

Four kids from Mexico are in the running for a prestigious international peace award.

Among 138 children from 42 countries, four Mexican kids have been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Award, which is awarded to minors who have made an effort to promote the rights of children and improve the situation of vulnerable minors.

The award comes with a €100,000 (about $117,000 USD) prize which can be used to invest in the solutions they’ve been championing. In fact, one of last year’s winners was climate change activist Greta Thunberg and peace advocate Divina Maloum from Cameroon.

On this occasion, Mexico’s nominees are counting on the win and include three nominees from Oaxaca and one from the state of Sinaloa.

Each of the children nominated have done incredible work to help solve issues in their communities.

In order to be nominated for the award and to be considered for the top prize, children must demonstrate their commitment to making a “special effort to promote children’s rights and better the situation of vulnerable children,” according to the Children’s Peace Prize website.

It goes without saying that each of Mexico’s four nominees have already checked off each of those requirements, with each of them making major advancements in issues that affect their communities, their country, and children from around the world.

In fact, the issues this group of children have been taking on range from combatting bullying and domestic violence, to increasing access to education, protecting young women and girls from endemic violence, and combatting the global Covid-19 pandemic.

One nominee from Oaxaca founded her own foundation to help advance the issues she cares about.

In an interview with Milenio, Georgina Martínez, 17, said that the award represents a great opportunity.

“This year we are among the 142 nominees from 42 different countries and I believe that without a doubt there is a commitment from all of us as Mexican children and young people to win it to continue fighting for our dreams,” she said.

Martínez, who won the national youth award in 2017, has been working for the rights of children and young people for 10 years through various campaigns, such as “Boys and Girls to the Rescue”, which focused on helping vulnerable minors combat bullying and domestic violence. She also supported the Nutrikids campaign that fed minors in precarious situations, worked to build classrooms in impoverished communities, and has also been a speaker at various conferences.

“My activism began when I was 9 years old, when I participated in the ninth parliament of the girls and boys of Mexico, where I was a children’s legislator. We spent a week at the Chamber of Deputies to work in favor of children’s rights. There I realized that my voice could be heard and that I could be the voice of many children who perhaps did not have access to many of their rights such as education and health,” she told Milenio.

Young Georgina Martínez is in her last year of high school, and she has in mind to continue working in the present and the future to continue being a person and agent of change.

Martínez’s brother is also in the running for his work against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jorge Martínez, the 13-year-old brother of Georgina, considers it a great honor to represent Oaxaca in the contest.

“I was nominated for my masks project, which consists of using 3D printing to print universal headbands and make acrylic masks, which I donate to hospitals,” he told Milenio.

“I started by making 100 masks, which I financed with my savings, and donated them to the children’s hospital to help hospitalized children so that they wouldn’t be infected with Covid-19. The project went viral allowing me to grow the project and it soon gained international attention,” he added.

Many of his neighbors and friends consider him to be an actual genius but he’s far too modest to take on that title. He said that “the truth is, all this technology is something that I like a lot and it’s fun to be able to work in fields that you enjoy.”

Martínez also shared his plans for the future, telling Milenio that he’d love to move to China to be able to work in robotics and engineering.

Oaxaca also has a third nominee in the global contest.

Oaxaca’s third nominee for the prize is a young ballet dancer, activist, and storyteller – Aleida Ruiz Sosa – who is a defender of women’s rights. She’s currently studying online as she finishes high school and plans to pursue a law degree, in addition to advancing her dance career.

She’s been a longstanding voice for women.

“Since I was very young I have worked hard to help my community. I have a collection of stories called “Rainbow”, that speaks out about violence against women. In fact, I worked with the Attorney General of Oaxaca, and the main thing is that all the proceeds from the sale of these stories will go to the young victims of femicide,” she told Milenio.

Also nominated is 16-year-old Enrique Ángel Figueroa Salazar of Mazatlán, who is passionate about children’s rights and wishes to change local, federal and global societies so that children can live a life free of violence.

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Photo Of Volcanic Ash In The Shape Of La Calavera Catrina Is Going Viral

Culture

Photo Of Volcanic Ash In The Shape Of La Calavera Catrina Is Going Viral

@essmealvarez / Twitter / Public Domain

Latinos are nothing if not superstitious. We see signs everywhere and quickly believe anything our abuelas tell us. The latest manifestation that is catching everyone’s attention is the image of La Calavera Catrina in volcanic ash. The volcano erupted in Mexico and the shape of the ash is honestly impressive.

The Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico put on a special show recently.

A resident living near the volcano captured a photo that showed the volcanic ash creating that face of La Calavera Catrina. La Calavera Catrina is one of the most famous symbols of the Day of the Dead celebrations. It is really easy to see the shape taking form in the volcanic ash that is rising over the city.

Naturally, the image is making its way around the world via social media.

Social media is good for sharing things like this far and wide. The internet loves a volcano eruption and Latinos love a superstitious or traditional sightings. This is obviously heightened in 2020 when travel is impossible and omens are literally everywhere.

People are using the natural phenomenon to educate people about La Catrina.

La Calavera Catrina was not always associated with Día de los Muertos. It was originally drawn by artist José Guadalupe Posada as satire to call out Mexicans striving to be European. The description for La Calavera Catrina included the word garbancera, which was a name given to Mexicans who rejected their indigenous backgrounds. The description further calls attention to the Mexican women who, like La Catrina, wore big hats and used so much makeup that their faces looked whiter and whiter.

Over the years, La Catrina became a symbol for Día de los Muertos.

Over many years, Posada’s image has become a major part of the Día de los Muertos celebrations throughout Mexico. La Catrina was always known after her creation, however, it was Diego Rivera who made her famous. The artist created a mural in the historic center of Mexico City across from Alameda.

Rivera added the body and dress to Posada’s original creation. La Catrina stands between Rivera and Posada in the mural that was painted between 1946 and 1947.

The history lesson is a welcomed accompaniment to the stunning natural phenomenon.

Who doesn’t like to see pieces of our history shared far and wide? The history of La Catrina is another moment to dispel the myths and misconceptions people have of Mexican and Latino culture.

READ: ‘La Calavera Catrina’ Is Getting Her Own Parade For ‘Día De Muertos’ In Mexico City This Year And We Have All The Deets

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