Image: Ruben Cubillos | Facebook

On Sunday, August 1, graphic designer and musician Ruben Cubillos passed away after battling cancer. The El Paso native is survived by his wife, Gloria, his son, Cory and a legacy of over fifty years of work in the Latin music industry. 

Cubillos entered the music world as the lead singer of Latin Breed, a Latinx pop group founded in 1969. By the 1980s, he had earned recognition in Texas for his stage presence and began to explore a different facet of the music world — designing album covers. 

According to NBC News, Cubillos started his design career while working with Tejano singer Little Joe on his 1983 record “No Quiero Más Amar,” during his time as a student at the Art Institute of Houston.

Throughout his 40-year career, he designed 150 album covers for Tejano and Latinx artists, most notably beloved legends Juan Gabriel and Selena. In 1989, he played a major role in Selena’s self-titled debut album through the cover design and the cursive signature that became her trademark. 

Image: Selena (1989) Album cover designed by Ruben Cubillos

Cubillos also used his background in entertainment to advocate for Latin Americans. He co-founded VIVE Tejano-Houston in an effort to push for the greater inclusion of Latinx artists in Texas’s major musical events, and lent his talents in graphic design for the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS) – some of the oldest and largest Latinx rights organizations. 

“Ruben was a true Tejano renaissance man. He could do it all,” longtime friend Abby Chavarrilla told the Houston Chronicle. “He was a true champion for the Tejano genre. He wanted artists to think outside the norms and continue to evolve the music. He truly leaves a great artistic void in Tejano music.” 

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