The work of Rafael López is a fusion of strong graphic style and magical symbolism. Growing up in Mexico City he was immersed in the rich cultural heritage and native color of street life. Influenced by Mexican surrealism, dichos and myths he developed a style with roots in these traditions.
His illustrations for Book Fiesta! written by Pat Mora were the recipient of the 2010 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award given by the American Library Association to honor work that best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books. In 2014 he was awarded the Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration for Tito Puente Mambo King, written by Monica Brown. In 2012 he was selected by the Library of Congress to create the artwork for the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. That same year he received the Pura Belpré Honor for illustration with The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred written by Samantha Vamos. His artwork for Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico! America’s Sproutings by Pat Mora won the Américas Award for illustration in 2007. He received a Pura Belpré Honor and the Américas Award for illustration with his first children’s book My Name is Celia written by Monica Brown in 2006.
His work on the Urban Art Trail Project transformed San Diego’s blighted East Village with colorful murals. This was the catalyst for development of a graphic style giving children and families the opportunity to paint large scale murals with the artist. These murals can be found in California, Colorado, Illinois and Washington.
Rafael divides his time between his studios in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and a loft in downtown San Diego where he works and lives with his wife and son.