US Bancorp: Meet the artist who created our US Bank Nuestra Herencia ™ Visa® debit card
Expressing ideas through the visual arts is second nature for Flora Rees-Arredondo.
“I’ve been making art since I was a kid,” said Rees-Arredondo, the Latinx artist from Burbank, Calif., Who designed our new US bank Nuestra Herencia ™ Visa® debit card.
Nuestra Herencia means ‘our heritage’, and this is the theme that Rees-Arredondo has captured in his work.
“I grew up in Davis,” she shared. “I’m mixed race – my father immigrated from Mexico and my mother, who is a professional artist, is from California.”
But his design for the debit card encompasses a bigger story than his. “I’m a huge nerd,” she said, “so I love studying history and exploring culture and mythology through my own artwork and short films.”
US Bank intentionally develops debit card models that allow our customers to share something about themselves, from their LGBTQ + pride to their favorite sports teams. This card, launched in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, is the American Bank’s first design for the Hispanic community.
Rees-Arredondo has incorporated the broader history of Hispanic and Latin heritage into the art of the card. “The most exciting part of designing the card is that we are creating a dialogue,” she said. “We’re showing at least one perspective on what it means to be Latin or Latinx, and we wanted to include all Latinx perspectives. Everyone is different, but I think most people will connect with it in one way or another.
The specific design of the card was inspired by Rees-Arredondo’s study of Aztec and Mayan mythology. “I was like, ‘How could I modernize this? “The illustration came from a scenario I created in my head about the Aztec civilization, but modernized.”
Working with a financial institution has been a unique addition to her resume, which includes work with animation and video game studios, as well as her own short films. “I fell in love with the live action movie in high school,” Rees-Arredondo explained. “I enjoyed watching movies like Silver Linings Playbook and Amélie. I was delighted with the lighting and loved their storytelling devices. ‘
As she developed her eye, Rees-Arredondo knew she wanted to use art for something bigger than herself. “Art is the perfect form of social activism because everyone looks at art whether they realize it or not,” she said. “We see graphic ads all the time. Art shows where we are as a society and how we see ourselves in others, and we can use art to shape how we see others in our society.
Representation itself is a powerful form of activism. “If I’m a growing kid and I don’t see someone who looks like me, I’m going to feel left out,” Rees-Arredondo said. “I didn’t feel sure of my own Métis identity. [Representation in media] doesn’t have to be life changing and in your face. It can be subtle, use different skin tones, or include LGBTQ + representation.
Having an on-screen representation is just as important as having it behind the scenes – on the crew, the hosts, the writers, and the artists who produce the content. “It’s important to show who we really are – not in a bubble of what other people think we are / should be. Animation, and entertainment in general, is going in the right direction in terms of having more diversity. I loved seeing people who looked like me working together on a show, hearing their perspectives and learning how they got started in their careers. When I work with people who have similar experiences to mine, it shows me that I am heard, that there are others who look like me and that I have a community.
This is one of the reasons we chose Ana Lydia Monaco, an up-and-coming Latin American director, to film a short documentary about Rees-Arredondo and her debit card design.