Student Impact
forks up los diablos design

ASU graduate alumni honor Hispanic heritage through design

alumni hispanic latinx heritage month graduate student design
By Jenna Nabors on October 6, 2021

To commemorate Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, three ASU alumni designers collaborated with Los Diablos, the official Latino chapter of ASU Alumni, and ASU communicators to design graphics that reflect the Hispanic and Latinx experience at ASU. 

The designers, Justin Gilbert, Iván Delvasto and Michael Torres, are all graduates of the Master of Visual Communication Design (MVCD) program in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Each designer researched and reflected on their own heritage to create their designs, which were added to merchandise available in the Sun Devil Campus Stores and featured in the on-field celebration at the ASU vs. Stanford football game on Oct. 8.


Hispanic and Latinx heritage designs

Hispanic Heritage Designs

The artists wanted their designs to draw inspiration from Indigenous Latin and Central American cultures. 

“We all wanted to explore Indigenous roots, what the cultures were like and what it means to be Hispanic,” says Delvasto.

For his designs, the “Mayan El Diablo” and “Forks up, Los Diablos,” Delvasto was inspired by the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs. 

“I wanted to make something symbolic that represented what I think Hispanic heritage and culture is, integrated with the ASU brand,” said Delvasto.

Gilbert, who was born and raised in Ignacio, Colorado and is from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, hoped to celebrate both his Indigenous and Hispanic culture. His design, the “Mayan Sun Devil Diablo Tail,” was also inspired by Mayan culture.

“Much of the influence came from the Mayan petroglyphs and how much of Central America can relate to these symbols. I tried to recreate those symbols in the diablo tail,” said Gilbert. “Many of the symbols are dates used in the Mayan calendar.”

Torres says his design, “Sol,” represents cultural pride, spirituality, progress and family. He connects the sun symbol with life lessons he was taught as a child, many of which are rooted in Hispanic culture. 

Reflections on Graduate School

While graduate students at ASU, Gilbert, Delvasto and Torres were able to integrate design with their passions.

Gilbert’s passion lies in revitalizing the Ute language and advancing Native American culture. While working on his master’s degree at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, he created a game called UMU, which teaches players the Ute language. 

Delvasto, who has a bachelor’s degree in photography, wanted to look at how design and photography can come together to create projects and programming that teaches others. Born in Columbia and raised on the East Coast of the United States, he is, specifically, interested in using different mediums to both teach about Hispanic culture and learn about his own Hispanic heritage.

Looking back on his time as an ASU graduate student, Delvasto is especially grateful for the people he met.

“The one thing that I really enjoyed out of the program were the friends that I made. Not only do I cherish them, but through them, I learned so much about other cultures, about myself, about how to be a better person and how to be a better designer,” said Delvasto.

He says that the faculty at ASU reaffirmed the idea that he could make both a career and a living out of being a creative.

Careers in Design

Gilbert earned his master’s degree from ASU in 2019 and has since gone on to start Kuvua Designs, a design company that creates brand identities for Native American-owned businesses.

“Kuvua means sharp point in the Ute language. My goal with Kuvua Design is to help Native American-owned companies have a professional presence, creating identity systems that will help their business grow,” says Gilbert.

Torres received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in drawing at ASU in 2018 and went on to earn his MVCD from ASU in 2021. He is currently working as a radio frequency designer.

Since graduating from ASU in 2017, Delvasto has collaborated with organizations across Arizona such as AIGA Arizona, Phoenix Pride and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. He is currently doing contract work and hopes to start his own business soon.

This is only the beginning of a new collaborative process for the creation of graphics. ASU is starting a multi-year effort to co-create cultural celebration graphics with various campus and alumni groups.