Former Mexican immigrant behind Starbucks designs

Emerging from anonymity, Víctor Meléndez creates iconic designs and illustrations for the largest and most popular coffeehouse chain in the world

Former Mexican immigrant behind Starbucks designs
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English 24/12/2016 14:47 Notimex Portland, Oregon Actualizada 14:00

The designs of the largest and most popular coffeehouse chain in the world are created by Mexican-born and Seatown, Seattle-based graphic designer and illustrator, Víctor Meléndez.

From the moment one steps into any of Starbucks coffeehouses worldwide, hundreds of iconic packaging designs and illustrations produced from anonymity by Meléndez, in a small studio comprising only of a table and a computer, emerge to be appreciated by the masses.

Meléndez, a native of Mexico City, spent a large period of his time in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant who couldn’t speak English “I came to the U.S. at age 19 on vacation, I fell in love with the place and decided to stay; the thing was that my visa expired and I remained “trapped in the limbo” sort of speak; I couldn’t leave the country until I got married”.

His decision to remain in the U.S. had a huge impact on his Mexican family, as Víctor was completing his Bachelor of Sciences in Telecommunications Engineering at the Polytechnic National Institute (IPN) in Mexico at the time of his vacation trip to the U.S., his decision to begin a life abroad from scratch hit them hard.Due to his lack of command of English, Víctor worked at jobs where little communication skills were required, as a newspaper delivery boy, setting the table buffets, as a cook at a Chinese restaurant and working for several delivery companies.

He later married a U.S. citizen in Seattle, where he got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Cornish College of Arts in Seattle. This enabled him to have his first contact with Starbucks through a program that allowed students to receive payment for the development of “real” projects for “real” companies, “I left Starbucks after graduation and came back to work for them full-time as a result of the design concepts I had developed for them at the time of my paid internship”.

Whether it is in coffee cups, posters, walls, coffee packages, records or social media art, the work of Víctor Meléndez becomes alive for the world to see, “I don’t know if “triumph” is a word that best describes my position, but I do feel proud that both my concept of design and my knowledge of illustration techniques are recognized through a transnational company with a worldwide reach; I feel very proud to be Mexican”, he added.Víctor Meléndez is currently part of the “Outstanding Mexicans” initiative of the Institute for Mexicans Living Abroad (IME) and the Mexican Consulate in Portland, Oregon, that promotes knowledge of the story of outstanding Mexicans residing in the U.S.

“I have a seven-year-old daughter who communicates in English with her mom and in Spanish with her dad. As I see it, the fact that she is able to communicate in both languages will have an immense and positive impact in her life. We visit Mexico very frequently and I often take my family to museums, the pyramids, natural landmarks for my daughter to know and appreciate the natural and cultural richness of Mexico”, Meléndez added.

More of Meléndez' work at: