LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER
Why I Created Latinx Design Directory
Written by Zuli Segura
Being Latinx is grand; it’s so rich. There’s something so nuanced and yet so broad. We inhabit all sorts of different things, bodies, and spaces. Seeing people who look like me, spotting Latinx names on a company’s team page, hearing familiar accents, and listening to others Latinx experiences give me this warm feeling in my belly, this confidence, something to cling to.
Moving away from a city you’ve called home for the last five years is no easy feat. It’s enough time to establish a family of friends, know all the local spots, or be on a first-name basis with the neighborhood coffee shop barista. It can also not be enough time to appreciate what that city has to offer fully.
Moving from New York City to Baltimore threw me into the harsh reality that I had left one of the most culturally diverse places. As a born and raised Puerto Rican (with some stints in Orlando, FL), in a new environment, I look for ways, things, or people to remind me of home. I didn’t have to look or go far in NY. Whether it was a bakery in Corona, Queens, selling café con leche, watching a game of Dominoes ensue outside my apartment on the Avenue of Puerto Rico in Brooklyn, or ordering a round of aguardiente at the Caribbean Social Club – there were endless pockets of home in NY. Leaving the city and coming to Baltimore was the first in my life that I had a quenching thirst for my culture. I felt culturally deprived.
Without having something to cling to, I needed, in my own way, to create moments, spaces that reminded me of home. Every day I actively searched and followed new Latinx creatives on Instagram. One day I dug up old music albums I listened to as a young girl growing up in Trujillo Alto, PR. I also spent hours watching old clips of El Show de Cristina and La Comay. I was trying to fill this blank space. When you no longer have something, it shifts your perspective on things. For me, it was knowing how beautifully complex Latinx culture is and realizing how little space there is for us.
I turned my attention to my immediate design community. A fresh newbie in the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), ready to explore themes of identity, displacement, representation, and untold narratives, I began reflecting on what it means to work in a field where you’re woefully underrepresented.
How could I bring these themes into my practice and discipline? Instead of discussing the problem, I wanted to highlight the importance of space and how it’s up to us to make it happen. It’s about fostering these safe environments where we could bask in our Latinidad. That motivation with my passionate devotion of opening up dialogues, creating spaces, and using my platform to uplift others is what led me to create Latinx Design Directory.
To all the Latinx designers and technologists out there, thank you for finding your way on to this directory. I created this for you, for us. I want this to be a welcoming space, a resource, the reason why you landed a gig, why someone hired you for a specific project, why you booked a podcast episode, where you found a developer to code your new portfolio site, where you found an illustrator to recommend to your creative director to hire for that big agency project. I want this directory to give you the visibility and platform that you deserve.