Many Selena Fans Didn’t Know This Man Designed Her Famous Signature. Here’s More On The Legendary Designer Who Just Passed Away
Selena was and remains one of the world’s most iconic artists. Her musical hits, style, and life story are known all around the world. And, of her legacy, one of her most iconic characteristics is that cursive signature that we see today on everything from album covers and posters to t-shirts and tote bags.
Now, the Tejano music world is mourning the loss of the man who helped design that iconic Selena logo and the many other works of art he helped bring to life.
Native El Pasoan Ruben Cubillos dies after years long battle with cancer.
Although Cubillos received an aggressive cancer diagnosis, his death (at age 65) still came as a shock to many people in the music industry. Cubillos was a native of El Paso, Texas, but eventually made his way to San Antonio where he sang as a member of The Latin Breed, a Tejano band that incorporated horns, strings and percussion into its sound.
“Ruben was a true Tejano renaissance man. He could do it all,” longtime friend Abby Chavarrilla told PreView. “He was a true champion for the Tejano genre. He wanted artists to think outside the norms and continue to evolve the music. He truly leaves a great artistic void in Tejano music.”
Cubillos was perhaps best known for creating the iconic Selena logo.
Although the graphic artist and musician created album covers for more than 150 different artists, he is perhaps best known for designing Selena’s iconic cursive signature logo. Having studied at the Art Institute of Houston, Cubillos went on to create album art for big-name Spanish-language artists – including Little Joe y La Familia and Juan Gabriel.
“Records are like a house and the album cover is the door,” Cubillos once told NPR in Austin during an interview.
He also designed the now-iconic cover for Selena’s 1989 self-titled album, which was her first with EMI Latin and meant to catapult her to a global audience. For many, Selena looks almost unrecognizable in a long skirt and gold jewelry with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. And it’s reported that Selena and her family were initially upset with the album cover. In fact, we get a glimpse into the drama in Selena: The Series on Netflix in a scene when Cubillos (played by Randy Vasquez) clashes with Selena and her father.
But Cubillos was also a ‘guardian of Mexican-American culture’ that will be greatly missed.
Cubillos was also a long-time activist for the Tejano and Mexican-American communities in Texas. He was a co-founder of the VIVE Tejano-Houston group, which worked to make sure that major events in the state (think the Houston Rodeo) included more Latino artists in their lineups. He also worked with major Latino and Hispanic rights groups like the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Council of La Raza, and helped create graphics for them.
“Ruben was the guardian of Mexican American culture, especially in music and the graphic art,” David Chavez remembers online. “He was a renaissance man who was a passionate advocate of anything Latino, Chicano or Tejano. He was a deep thinker and wasn’t afraid to give his opinion.”
Anthony Medrano, co-producer of the “Tejano America” web series, recalled one of his last conversations with Cubillos over dinner in San Antonio.
“It was the last time I got to see Ruben. He looked a little frail but still sharp. At that time I didn’t know he was very sick,” he says in an emotional Facebook post.
“The next day he called me to say goodbye. He knew he didn’t have much time left, and he wanted to tell those of us that have worked by his side and have been with him for this incredible musical journey that he loved us. It was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had. It was also one of the most beautifully loving conversations I’ve ever had,” Medrano said.
“His last wish to me was that we all celebrate by toasting him with our glasses raised high to the heavens and saying his name. He told me that he would rest peacefully forever knowing that we had done that.”
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