We landed in Havana in the evening. We had come to Cuba legally on a research grant from Pratt Institute to learn about Graphic Design in a country that doesn’t allow commercial advertising. By the time we got settled in our casa and had dinner, it was 9pm and we were eager to explore. The casa owner suggested a jazz club in the neighborhood, so we started out down a dark unlit street. After a bit of stumbling around Ken said, “Hey, do you want to go check out that building over there?” If Ken Scott ever asks this question to you, your answer should always be “yes”.
It was a huge block of a building. I thought it might be a cathedral, but as we grew closer we saw there were no windows. It was a huge reclaimed oil factory with the tops of street lights attached on the sides, pointing up, illuminating the building. As we walked in, we discovered it was a contemporary art show: Fabrica de Arte Cuba. There were really great works of fine art, and Ken immediately began photo documenting and scribbling down names. We wandered in farther and stumbled upon a large section of graphic design. Beautiful posters, pamphlets, fonts – I was amazed. We ask a guy standing near us if he knew anything about the show. Sure he did. It’s a show of the top and emerging graphic designers of Cuba, and this piece happened to be done by his girlfriend Giselle and sure we could have her number.
This is how we met Giselle, Edel, Michele, Norman and Raupa. Together they are the top graphic designers of Cuba, creating amazing work including posters and animations. They invited us into their homes, showed us their artwork, shared their experiences, and made us laugh. And now we hope to share them with you. They are brilliant, talented, funny, good hearted people who do a great deal with very little.