Art Student Submits Winning Design in First “Sombrero Festival” Contest
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 1, 2013 – As the thousands of people expected to enjoy the festivities at this year’s Sombrero Festival walk the grounds, they might notice the many T-shirts with the official Sombrero Festival 2013 logo on them.
What they might not know is that this year’s logo was designed by 22-year-old art education major Angela Ruiz, the winner of the first ever Sombrero Festival Annual Design Contest.
“Seeing [the T-shirts], I’ll probably be freaking out a little bit,” said Ruiz. “Seeing them everywhere, I’ll feel like, ‘Is that really my design?’ I’m going to be surrounded by my design. It’ll be profound, almost a sublime shock.”
The annual Sombrero Festival is part of the Charro Days festivities unique to Brownsville and Matamoros, which take place every year in the latter part of February and first few days of March.
Late last year, Sombrero Festival, Ltd. held an open invitation for students from The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College to submit potential designs to be used in the promotion of the 2013 Sombrero Festival as its official logo. Each submission would be judged on three criteria as related to the Sombrero Festival: the depiction of two countries and two cities; the cultural representations of each country and city; and the overall feeling of “fiesta” and celebration.
The winning design would be featured in advertising, social media and other media, and be printed on the official Sombrero Festival T-shirts. The first-prize artist won $500, and the runner-up artist received $100 and their design will be used for the children’s events on Saturday, March 1.
“The Sombrero Festival board of directors has made an effort to support the community and especially the university throughout the years,” said Eloy Alvarez, Assistant Director of Student Life and member of the Sombrero Festival Board. “The design contest is the latest project aimed at providing the students with an opportunity to showcase their talents and assist in the cost of their education with the prize money.”
Ruiz’s design, two crossed acoustic guitars representing the United States and Mexico, each colored in their country’s colors but overlapping at their bases, won out over five finalists, all designs submitted by students from UT Brownsville.
“I noticed with both the U.S. and Mexican flags that they both had red,” said Ruiz. “Red symbolizes passion, and the passion that both nations have, though different in some ways, both of them share music as a passion. It doesn’t matter if it’s a different style; [each country] still loves their music. That’s how we’re united – through music.”
Since it was unveiled as the winning entry last November, the design has been shown in Mexico City, shown to the president of the Sombrero Festival association and its unveiling on the Sombrero Festival Facebook page has received a positive response from the public.
“Angela Ruiz is an extremely talented young lady,” said Alvarez. “The design she submitted was beautifully done and well thought out for the event. Early responses to her design on the various marketing venues for the event have been extremely positive. The public have commented favorably on the design. Sombrero Festival President Olga Gonzalez absolutely loves it.”
Although she has lived in Brownsville most of her life, Ruiz had never attended Sombrero Festival.
Before she began to design, she did research, scouring the internet for images of past Sombrero Festivals to get an idea for what the festival represents. In the course of brainstorming her design, Ruiz said that she created at least 10 to 20 thumbnail mock-ups of potential designs before settling on her ultimately winning entry.
“They had the Chili Cook-Off, the food section, they have the entertainment, sure,” said Ruiz. “But one of the biggest things is the music—that’s what Sombrero Fest is about. It’s a celebration of both cultures, yes, but one of the main things that people go for is the music. With this picture, it represents the entertainment aspect of the Sombrero Festival.”
Ruiz found out about the contest through Alvarez and chose to participate in the contest as a way to, as she puts it, “flex her design muscles.” She currently works as the graphic designer for the Office of Student Life, creating the colorful fliers and other materials used to promote student events on campus. She credits working at Student Life as helping her sharpen the skills that she felt were necessary to create her winning entry.
“I was really excited about it,” said Ruiz. “I wanted to show that I was pretty good at design, since I’m the graphic designer for Student Life, and I wanted to do more.”
The Brownsville Hanna High School graduate will graduate from UTB in 2014. She wants to continue to work in graphic design but ultimately hopes to one day become an art director.
This experience, she says has “spurred her on,” and for now, she is looking forward to experiencing her first Sombrero Festival and seeing her design on display.
“It’s a different feeling, this year: a new Charro Days, a new experience,” said Ruiz. “Sombrero Festival, something I’ve never experienced, so I’m excited. It’ll be like, ‘wow.’”