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  Rafael López

International Illustrator  and Artist

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Rafael López

                Rafael López (born August 8, 1961, in Mexico City, Mexico) is an internationally recognized illustrator and artist. To reflect the lives of all young people, his illustrations bring diverse characters to children's books. 

        Rafael López has received three Pura Belpré Award medals from the American Library Association for Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln (2020) Drum Dream Girl (2016) and Book Fiesta! (2010). In addition he secured three Pura Belpré honors. llustrated books in 2022 include The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson released in January and The Little Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu due out in September.

        His illustrations for Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics were honored with the 2017 Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators New York Original Art Exhibition. The book Maybe Something Beautiful based on his own work reclaiming neighborhoods with community murals secured the 2017 Tomás Rivera Book Award. Additional children's books have received three Pura Belpré honors and two Américas Book Awards for illustration.

         He created a series of 54 portraits for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino. In 2022 he served as the first guest artist of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum giving workshops to children and families. He was asked by the Library of Congress to create the National Book Festival Poster in 2012, an event featuring best-selling authors, poets and illustrators on the National Mall in Washington D.C. He has created thirteen stamps for the United States Postal Service.

       He was selected by the Obama/Biden campaign to create two official posters at Artists for Obama in an effort to secure the pivotal Latino vote in key swing states.

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Rafael first stamp Issued September 17,2005

Was issued on September 14, 2007 marking the 60th Anniversary

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Poster size stamp at school in Santa Ana School named in honor of

Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez

"The King of Timbales "

 Issued 2011

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Cover from USA Philatelic  Magazine 

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Pictured here is Selena's husband Christopher Perez, brother A.B., dad Abraham, her lovely mom Marcela, and wonderful sister Suzette.

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Gibson unveiled a series of customized studio guitars, featuring the artwork of the stamps and these five guitars will be retired to the Smithsonian after their touring exhibit.

Rafael working on Mariachi stamp
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 Issued July 15, 2022

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Lopez started the designs on paper before switching to a tablet. He still creates the textures in the portraits by hand with paint and layers them onto the digital image

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Rafael, with Mariachi band Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City

Mariachi stamp ceremony video on July 15, 2022 in Albuquerque, N.M.

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 Issued August 12, 2022

Books Illustrated by Rafael 
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Release 2004

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Release 2008

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Release 2013

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 Release 2015

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Release 2007

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Release 2009

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 Release 2011

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Release 2016

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 Release 2017

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Release 2018

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Release 2018

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Release 2019

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Release 2019

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Release 2021

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 Release 2022

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Will be release

Sept. 27, 2022

Posters created for Obama's Presidential  Campaigns

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National Book Festival Poster

(Click on poster to see how it was created)

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Rafael Murals Link

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2021 Rafael Lopez Community Mural & IMAGINANTES Tribute

In Mexico, I used to travel over an hour to get to the library. I immersed myself in books and grew up with a fascination for images from different cultures. That early exposure to diversity and storytelling shaped my thinking. Words and images have the power to make convincing change. The chance to connect with kids through books is creative jet fuel, and I’m compelled to help children unlock their own voice and potential. 

  Rafael López (he/him)

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Thank you Rafael for taking the time to be  interviewed and giving me permission to use graphics for this special page.