Interview with Lenin Baru Vásquez Felipe, Illustrator, 3rd place winner of the Intl. Reggae Poster Contest, 2013


Lenin Baru Vásquez Felipe is an illustrator-cartoonist, originally from the land of clouds (Oaxaca), Mexico.  His poster “Reggae Roots” was voted with enthousiasm from the jury panel of the International Reggae Poster Contest, 2013, and received the third place. “My design talks about the possibility of showing a natural and organic way, the identity of a musical genre and style of life that many take for respect, for self and others and nature. I return to the human icon Bob Marley is to emphasize that their cultural heritage is a starting point in the global expansion of reggae”.

Congratulations on your 3rd place win Vásquez!
Tell us how you found out about the International Reggae Poster Contest 2013 and what was it that attracted you to participate?

Through the Internet via Facebook I came across the fan page of “The International Reggae Poster Contest” I was curious and I began to see the rules and started to work on a design.

Were you expecting to placed in the top 10? 3rd place must have been a big achievement?

When I made my design my goal was to be in the 100 selected, for seeing many designers participating countries would be wise to be a winner very difficult, but knowing that I was the third place I felt very happy because I really like design and I love reggae music.

You are from Mexico, where in Mexico do you live?

I’m from the state of Oaxaca by the Mixtec Oaxacan place known as “The Land of the Clouds”, named for his great mysticism. But since entering college a few years ago, I now live in the capital of the country in the “Federal District”.

Tell us what is the reggae scene like there?

In Mexico the reggae music scene is great, there are many bands that are doing very good and interesting things, especially bands like Golden Ganja, Afro Brothers Antidoping and many others.

How did you get introduced to the music in the first place?

I started listening to reggae when I was 16, I really liked the human sense of rhythmic songs and musical instruments, since then I enjoy searching the internet to know and discover bands mainly in South America.

How would you summarize your experience with the International Reggae Poster Contest? Did it live up to your expectations?

*I think it is a very good and interesting competition because it gives the opportunity to see the work of people from many countries and know that there are designers doing great things. I very much enjoyed working on this poster.

Your winning poster “Reggae Roots” was one of my early favorites, the technique seems to be very time consuming. How long did it take you to complete the piece?

For technical use of digital illustrations, thinking first to have a concept then give a visual sense and form. For almost two years I am using this type of style in illustration which represents the saturation and excessive use of forms that unify a design. The poster I did in my spare time over a period of two weeks (one or two hours per day), designing relaxes me.

Your poster design was inspired by Bob Marley. Why did you choose to illustrate and design a poster depicting the iconic reggae figure?

Bob Marley is a key icon in reggae music, for all the letters representing symbolic of their songs about respect and true belief in humanity, so it was an essential image of the poster, which I described in color and forms a culture: The culture of reggae.

Share with our readers where you studied illustration and design?

I studied design grafico in the “ENAP (National School of arts Plásticas of UNAM)”, where I specialized in fotografia, but the illustration is something I learned by way autodidact.

Tell us a bit more about your experience in Graphic Design? Do you work as a freelance designer or with a design studio?

I worked one year as an illustrator, at a music and culture magazine called “Tongue Magazine”, then I went freelance, but now I work as graphic designer in a company dedicated to the world of jeans “Silver Plate”, and I freelance designing on posters and illustrations mainly. I also paint and occasionally participate in exhibitions. I won first place in a national competition in Mexico cartoon, intervention cover for the magazine “A! Design” I was selected in the “Feria Internacional del Libro Infantil y Juvenil FILIJ”, finalist in the “Ilustracional” magazine PICNIC, at the end of last year I started getting involved in more competitions.

Great! Congratulations!
When did you get your first break as a Graphic Designer?

It was coming out of college, some friends tried to do a design study, but only lasted a year.

How do you approach a design such as your winning piece?

When I enter contests the first thing I think of is to have fun and relax. I try to make designs and illustrations that I like a lot to me, so I put a lot of effort into the work and because the work speaks for itself, I want the art to speak to the viewers.

Your illustration and poster design impressed the jury. Is there any particular designer or illustrator that inspires your work?

I am really inspired by many things, literature, cinema, music, the arts. Regarding the work of someone in specific, I can only say that I admire the things that people make here in Mexico, and I mainly recognize designers which are unknown, in my country there is a huge colorful illustration scene and this is a ways to make themselves worthy of respect and admiration.

What are your thoughts on our objective to have the Reggae Hall of Fame museum built in Kingston, Jamaica?

I feel that is very important and wonderful, because Jamaica is a country central to the culture of reggae music, it is gratifying because that recognition is given to those great musicians who have come out of that beautiful island and inspired the rest of the world.

One of the contest objective is to support the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica. What is your take on the school’s historical role in Reggae music?

It is an excellent place to promote music and should not be forgotten because music is one of those roads that serve to be free, it is gratifying to know that some posters will serve as a liaison between the Alpha Boys school and the wider world.

What would you like to see as a career benefit coming out of winning this International design contest?

For my benefit the contest allows me to represent my country in an international competition, for me this is a big achievement in my life, that is a priority for me.

What are you working on now?

Now I am a graphic designer in jeans brand, I freelance and I work to make personal projects.

Who are your favorite reggae artiste and what reggae tunes gets regular play on your iTunes play list?

I really like the South American reggae and right now I really like Colombian band called “Providencia.” I hear a lot about a Bolivian group call “Kameleba”, to “Shiva Shanti” of Peru, the classic Bob Marley and Damian Marley songs, and ultimately to Tomer Yosef.

Thank you Lenin! We wish you to always be successful in your life!

Take a look at Lenin’s portfolio at :

Maria Papaefstathiou

VISUAL DESIGNER since 1996 and blogger since 2010. Living in Athens, Greece. She has been focusing her research on poster design and particularly on social poster design and portrait design. Her main poster project is a series of posters celebrating great personalities of traditional and popular culture in Greece and Jamaica. These include actors, singers, musicians, poets etc. This is an ongoing project. “I believe that design is a powerful tool that we designers can use to spark enthusiasm, change mindsets and bring positive actions to our world and our culture”. FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF GRAPHICART-NEWS.COM BLOG. She carefully curates high-quality designs, illustrations, and art, from all over the world that will teach and provoke other designers. Many consider her blog to be an exceptional educational tool. CO-FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE POSTER CONTEST which was launched on December 2011, partnering, the creative activist Michael Thompson aka Freestylee. (

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