Vato Verde

Summer 2009  

Design Brief

Students were challenged to create public awareness through a provocative and multimedia campaign aiming to reach a generation of children and young teens who are at risk for gun violence, and often over-exposed to the glamorization of guns in mainstream media. The objective: reaching this group before they become the next generation of small gun owners.

Research and Development

Through an educational partnership between Art Center’s Graphic Design Department and the Communication Department of Centro diseño cine televisión in Mexico City, students from both institutions collaborated to share research and cross-cultural perspectives about gun violence in their respective communities as they developed two distinct strategies for a powerful call to action to engage youth about awareness of gun violence and its consequences.

As part of the research of the team, local grassroots and advocacy perspectives about the scourge of gun violence among teens in the Los Angeles area were shared in a panel discussion the class hosted with Suzanne Verge, President for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence which works at the state and federal level to enforce sensible gun laws and promote education and public awareness to build a future free from the threat of gun violence, and Renée White-Stoeckle, the Associate Director of the Al Wooten Jr Heritage Center which provides safe after-school programs in South Central, LA. A workshop with Gala Narezo, Designmatters liaison with the UN NGO Conference organizers, provided the students with a grasp about the NGO global Youth Perspective and activism in the context of the conference’s planning.

After pursuing several distinct concept directions, the whole class came together to develop Vato Verde, a guerilla-style media campaign that takes a multi-prong approach to address some key societal issues that lead to gun violence, from peer-pressure, to media exposure. Using claymation techniques, an anti-hero character, Vato Verde came to life in a series of short vignettes and situations that showcase key scenarios that “it is not fun to play with a gun.”

The Vato Verde campaign, both in English and Spanish is further reinforced by the Centro sister campaign with a unified logo and tag line “I do not want to be a target” created by the Centro student team.


“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded.”

– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening address to the sixty-second Annual DPI/NGO Conference: “For Peace and Development: Disarm Now!” in Mexico City, September 9, 2009