ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Silvia Fuentes (Advertising ’06)

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February 9, 2014

Silvia Fuentes graduated from Art Center College of Design with a BA in Advertising in 2006. Since graduation, she has dedicated her talents to serving local non-profit organizations and universities in the Los Angeles area such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Liberty Hill Foundation, UCLA, PADRES Contra El Cáncer and the American Lung Association. She is also founding partner of Private Citizens Design, a graphic design studio dedicated to using design to build social consciousness.

As the Development and Marketing Coordinator at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) I made a conscious decision to focus my creativity and skills to art direct campaigns that address the issue of immigrant rights head on. Immigration is considered by many to be a controversial and divisive issue, but for me, the daughter of immigrant parents from Uruguay, immigration is very simple – the issue is about human rights.

With the rise of punitive immigration legislation such as “Secure Communities,” Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56, millions of families are being torn apart. Although immigrants are part of our daily lives, few Americans understand how the current approach to immigration laws affect a person’s well-being. CHIRLA’s mission is to win justice for immigrants and change the public perception of what it really means to be a nation of immigrants. To do this, we communicate the complex intersection of culture and politics with clear and concise messages, using images and activities to impact public policy.

“Document This!” was an educational campaign launched in July 2012 that  targetedDSC_0139 undocumented immigrant youth who had the golden opportunity to come out of the shadows and make their dreams a reality when President Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program this  past June. In collaboration with Angelica Salas, CHIRLA’s Executive Director, our intention was to create an information packet that could serve as a “how to” guide for the target demographic. We wanted it to be functional and to serve as an archive for all the documentation they would need to provide as part of their application process. The end product was a yellow manila envelope that would house each applicant’s documentation, and be the original mailer which provided them with basic information about the program and the application process. To date, CHIRLA’s Seize the Dream Center has educated over 65,000 DACA applicants and family members using these materials and has submitted almost 1,500 DACA applications.

In addition to working with CHIRLA on a full time basis, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Barbara Osborn, Director of Strategic Communications at the Liberty Hill Foundation, as a freelance art director to design the Giving Black in Los Angeles: Donor Profiles and Opportunities for the Future Report. This project challenged me to think outside the box in order to interpret data in a creative and interesting way. I wanted to make sure the report had a powerful voice that made the demographic it represented feel empowered to change their communities and take ownership of their destinies. I wanted to move beyond the predictable solution which would stereotype the African American community and come up with a something that was reminiscent of the Liberty Hill Foundation brand which is simple, sophisticated and powerful. The final design is a monochromatic 24 page booklet which incorporates the exploration of typography to create interest and give the information some visual hierarchy. Please click here to see the report. I also had the opportunity to design their winter e-Cards. The winter e-Cards serve as a fundraising vehicle during the holiday season. Each design represents a core issue the foundation supports. Please click here to view the e-Cards.

EnvelopeWith my work, I want to continue to embrace the idea that design is more than just aesthetics; it is a powerful communication tool that has the ability to build bridges between human beings and change the way we perceive and interact with each other. As designers we have the opportunity to help shape our culture and educate people about issues that are often misunderstood or ignored. For me, design is a form of activism where branding, art direction and copywriting unite to give voice to an issue or a cause that has been silenced. To see more samples of my work, please visit

For more information about CHIRLA, visit:

For more information about The Liberty Hill Foundation, visit: