Staff Spotlight: Javier Lopez
Media Relations Coordinator
Javier Lopez knew he had a passion for the creative arts since high school and honed his skills as a Graphic Communications major in college. After working for a newspaper in Levelland, Javi brought his artistic energy to Texas Tech International Affairs. He draws inspiration from various sources – painting, drawing, photography, reading, music, and his family. We are fortunate to have Javi's curiosity, originality, creativity, and focus as well as his positive attitude guiding the International Affairs marketing efforts.
Tell us about yourself. What brought you to Texas Tech and the department of International Affairs?
“I am Javier Lopez: husband, girl dad, weekend warrior, and just an all-around regular guy — lover of dogs, books, music, art, photography, and hot sauce. I was born in Lubbock and raised in the area. In that regard, Texas Tech has always felt like the place to be. It's a part of the cultural landscape. After moving around a bit as a kid, life and work eventually brought my parents back home. My stepdad was from Sundown, Texas and my mother grew up in Levelland, Texas. I went to high school in Sundown, a 2A school in a small oilfield community about 50 miles west of Lubbock. Growing up, I always had a natural affinity for art, and despite being a bit of a misfit through high school, I found some direction hand drawing graphics for my high school paper, as well as designing the cover for several of my yearbooks. Once it came time to decide on a college major, Graphic Design just made the best sense.
College was good to me. I loved college and I was good at it. I attended South Plains College as a Design Communications major, and it was there that I truly discovered my passion for painting, drawing, art history, photography, classic literature… everything! It's like a switch went off in my brain. I think I just learned how to learn and I applied my thirst for knowledge to as much as I could– I still do.
After graduating, I was offered a position as a substitute instructor for the graphic design program from which I graduated. I was happy to fill in when I was needed. After a few years of enjoying a mildly successful career as a freelance graphic designer, substituting, and working a regular 9-5, I decided to go back to SPC. I planned on wrapping up a few classes before transferring to TTU to study fine art. Just after completing my first semester back in school, a job opportunity, that was initially supposed to be a temporary position, fell my way and I joined the staff of the Levelland & Hockley County News-Press, a small “mom & pop” run, twice-weekly publication. It really was a proving ground of sorts as my first experience in a fast-paced, short deadline, advertising position that grew to include most every aspect of the business from graphic design, ad sales, circulation, photography, assisting with account billing, and I even picked up a few editorial duties along the way - nature of the small business. I truly value that time in my career. I was there for just over 6 years and it was a tough place to leave, but I knew when the Multimedia Specialist position with TTU came my way, it was time to move forward and I was up for the challenge.”
What is your role at the International Affairs?
“I am the Media Relations Coordinator at International Affairs, a position that grew from my role as Multimedia Specialist. I produce promotional material for all the units within International Affairs. Posters, postcards, flyers, logos, booklets & brochures, website design, event photography, email correspondence, social media management… I suppose I'm somewhat of a generalist, but I'd like to believe it makes me a more resourceful designer and a more effective facilitator. I'm most comfortable as a facilitator, behind the scenes, working to produce as professional quality work as I am able so that my colleagues have the material they need to do their best work as well!”
What is your favorite aspect about your job?
“I feel like part of the joy in being a graphic designer is that I get to employ several different skills to create whatever piece is in front of me. It's drawing, photography, color theory, typography, copywriting, visual hierarchy, and then finding a way to strike a balance among all these elements to convey a message. I'm constantly exploring and iterating until the pieces start fitting together from concept to completion. It can be a fast and furious process at times, but the longer I've been in the game, the more the process becomes reactive. Collect, react, refine, and remember to blink every now and then!
I especially love to learn new design software. I primarily use Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, and Photoshop. More recently, I've been learning and using Figma, a UX/UI design software for creating prototypes for websites and apps. It is such a powerful tool, and I hope to continue getting better.”
Where do you find inspiration as a creative?
“Books, art, photography, and music - whatever the source of inspiration, I guess I'm just looking to be moved or affected in some way. I'm not looking for anything in particular, but I'm always looking. I am a student in the art of creativity.
I love to read, and as I mentioned, I want to be moved by what I read, so I try to just go right for the heavy stuff. Last year, I finally read Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and wow, what an incredible novel. Every chapter, every page, is filled with some of the most intentional, masterfully crafted prose that I've ever read– not to mention its allegorical heft. It's one of those books that absolutely deserves to be read and reread. There are so many great books and so many great writers I could talk about. Reading has always just been a way for me to calm my mind, take my eyes off the screen, and lose myself for a bit while keeping my imagination engaged. I think we can all learn more about ourselves in the pages of a great book, and ultimately, become better versions of ourselves. Currently, I'm trying to hype myself up for Cervantes' Don Quixote. It's been on my hit list for a while and it's creeping closer and closer to my nightstand. I'm not a fast reader by any means, but I at least try to be a dedicated reader, so it'll be quite an undertaking. Wish me luck!
Even though I tend to cycle through periods of drawing, oil painting, watercolor, or just playing guitar, one creative outlet I've practiced almost consistently since college is photography. I've been taking photos for about as long as I've been a graphic designer. I always try to keep my camera close. I love the photographic process. I love the hunt and the practice of observation. I enjoy studying the work of photographers like Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, Garry Winogrand, Gordon Parks, Mary Ellen Mark, and Josef Koudelka to name a few. Recently, I discovered the work of Robert Adams à la New Topographics– I've always been drawn to shooting similar frames, and I've never quite known how to articulate what exactly it is I'm drawn to in these particular scenes, until now. It's very inspiring to see some of my old work in a new light, and I'm really excited to start working toward bringing these photos together. When I'm not shooting outward, so to speak, I love shooting photos of my home life, trying to capture moments of my life as a father and a husband.
Lastly, I love music. I listen to just about everything depending on whatever I'm feeling at the time, or even whatever book I'm reading can inform what I'm listening to at any given moment. It just helps set the tone like a good soundtrack - think Cormac McCarthy's The Road meets Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Allelujah! Don't Bend!, Ascend! record. Yeah, it's both beautiful and terrifying. My taste in music is diverse, and of course, I'm always looking for something I haven't heard. Classical, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Hip-Hop, World, or even just a good ol' Lo-Fi Chill-Hop playlist to help get me into that work vibe flow state. You name it and I've probably built a playlist.”
What are some of your favorite events at International Affairs?
“If you've never had a chance to catch some of our events here at the ICC or on campus, I encourage you to do so! CultureFest in the fall is always such a fun event. The food, the music, arts & crafts, dancing… the food. It's definitely one of my favorites.
Also, Students for Global Connections (SGC), and our International Student Life (ISL) unit just held Worldwide Showcase. If you missed it this spring, make it a point to attend next year. Our international students are not only some the best and brightest, but endlessly talented as well! There is so much beauty in the diverse cultures represented here at TTU and it really shines through during many of their performances. So much care and preparation go into these cultural events and it's very inspiring to witness the pride our students feel when given an opportunity to share and celebrate their home countries.”
What is the most interesting thing you have learned from working at TTU International Affairs?
“We have some bright and resilient kids coming in from all over the world. It's always interesting to witness first-year students at International Student Orientation, maybe a little shy, maybe a little nervous, just trying to find their way. The very next year, they're part of our Global Guides program, confident, in their element, helping the next group of incoming International Undergrads find their way.”
As you think about your accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
“In 2010, I was one of 137 artists named as a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize, a Texas-wide juried art exhibit, for my oil painting, Las Mascaras de San Antonio. I attended the gala in Houston, and it was such good feeling to see my work on the wall with other Texas artists I admire, including TTU's own Shannon Cannings and David Lindsay. That was my first experience exhibiting any of my work in that sort of setting and I'm proud to have been selected. I received a few Advertising Design awards during my time at the New-Press. In 2021, I was a recipient of the Masked Rider Award during our annual Distinguished Staff Awards ceremony. Most recently my photo “View from the Bridge” was selected for “High and Dry XXII: A Photographic Exhibition of Peoples and Places of the World's Dry Lands”, one of International Affairs signature exhibits.
On a personal level: fatherhood. My little girl, Maya is just so sweet, funny, happy, sensitive, and smart. She gets so much of that from her mommy, my wife Raquel, but the dimples… she got those from her daddy! She will be two in October. I've been truly blessed in my life and I attribute that to just trying to be the best person I can be. One of my mantras in life is simply: “Be worthy”. Work hard, be yourself, be honest, be kind. I hope to teach my daughter the same and I hope to lead by example.”