Rubén Darío Villa
Visual Designer & Chicano Artist
Founder of Fúchila Fresheners
Founder & CEO
Featured Guest on NBC Bay Area – Comunidad del Valle with Host Damian Trujillo
Authored Google Keyword Blog Post: Hispanic Heritage Month 2021: What it means to be here today
Following in the rich tradition of the Chicano Civil Rights leaders and the artists of that era, my work exists in stark contrast to the 19th-century French notion of “Art for Art’s Sake”, or art with an inherent aesthetic value devoid of context and society. Chicano art does not have the luxury of disassociation nor does it serve such a rudimentary purpose alone. I marry digital techniques, mixed media, and accessible mediums to explore what I call “Chicanostalgia”, a nuanced interpretation of American pop culture of years past from the Chicano perspective, dripping in nostalgia. From launching the first international, Chicano pop-culture inspired car freshener line to collaborating with diverse artists and diverting income to various community-based organizations over the years, I design my art as a vehicle for social commentary, philanthropy, and civic engagement. No longer art for art’s sake, but art for everyone’s sake.
A first-generation Chicano born to Mexican-immigrant parents in the Silicon Valley, I’ve been a self-taught artist from a young age. As a work-study student in college, I put my raw design skills to work for Santa Clara University’s Marketing and Communications department by day and freelance design gigs by night. After graduating with my BFA in Graphic Design in 2010, I used my unique set of design, branding, and marketing skills and jumped into the private sector, becoming a jack of all trades for a local marketing agency. I then snuck into the world of tech and spent the next 12 years at Apple and Google honing my visual design and creative leadership. All the while, I founded an international, pop culture-inspired car freshener side hustle, an entrepreneurial venture that bridged the gaps between my design craft, cultural identity, and passion for building community. Most recently, I opened an art studio in Gilroy, CA to further develop my conceptual art practice, exploring the intersection of craft, culture and community or what I call “Chicanostalgia”, a nuanced interpretation of American pop culture of years past from the Chicano perspective, dripping in nostalgia. Most recently, my work at the intersection of tech, art, and entrepreneurship have landed me opportunities to help engage my local community in the public sector, work I plan to do for the rest of my life.
Rubén Darío Villa is a first-generation Chicano multimedia artist and designer born in San Jose, CA to Mexican immigrants. A first-generation college graduate of Santa Clara University, Villa snuck into tech, designing some of the worlds most beloved apps and leading creative teams at Apple and Google. In true first-gen fashion, Villa was concurrently running an international, pop-culture inspired car freshener side-hustle, Fúchila Fresheners. Villa recently opened his art studio in Gilroy, CA as a multimedia artist exploring the concept of "Chicanostalgia" and Chicano identity more broadly.
Day to day, Villa is a freelance graphic designer, brand strategist, artist, speaker, writer, and active community leader in the South Bay Area devoting 120% of his time to empower minority and women-owned businesses and non-profits and mentoring Latinx youth looking to break into the Silicon Valley.
Villa sits on the board of Digital NEST, a local non-profit training latinx youth in rural communities to kickstart a career in tech. Villa is a Gilroy Arts and Culture Commissioner and an advisor on the City of San Jose’s Public Art Advisory Committee.
Villa lives in the Garlic Capital of the World, Gilroy, CA, with his best friend and wife, Veronica, their ridiculously cute children, Luna de Aztlan and Teocalli and their eclectic pets.
My Ethos & Pillars
My art embodies the ethos of "Chicanostalgia", a culturally nuanced interpretation of American pop culture of years past from the Chicano perspective, dripping in nostalgia, as a vehicle for social and civic engagement.
I believe in the pursuit of one’s craft, whatever it may be, to the best of one’s ability. I believe that all work, white-collar, blue-collar, or otherwise is work worthy of dignity and respect.
I believe in the power of cultura. I believe in the curative powers of connecting to our roots, our parents and ancestors alike, and curating our collective future for generations to come.
I believe in interdependence, connection, and belonging – not independence. The concept of “self-made” is a myth. I seek to have us lean on our familia, not to emancipate from it.