Amazing Designer – Raul Rodriguez

Raul and Sebastian

What do the Tournament of Roses, the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and the governments of the USA, Costa Rica, Nova Scotia, The Netherlands, Indonesia, and numerous other countries and establishments in Asia have in common?  All are just a few of the clients of Raul Rodriguez, the pioneering designer.  Most of us think of award winning parade floats when Raul’s name is mentioned, but what many don’t know is that Raul’s iconic designs also adorn and illuminate: children’s books, parade floats, prestigious gaming establishments, numerous retail establishments, restaurants, wineries, entertainment companies and stages.

Amazingly, Raul, through a turn of fortuitous events, designed his first Rose Parade float at the age of fourteen.  A third generation native of Los Angeles, Raul was raised in East L.A.  As a youngster he saw the floats in the Rose Parade and said to himself, “I can design that!” Little did he know that very soon he would get that opportunity.

When Raul was fourteen his family moved to a nearby town.  His new high school held a contest for the best design for the city’s Rose Parade float. Raul won and the rest is history: he has won more awards than any other designer in the history of the Parade and this year he will have his 500th float appearing in the parade!

With family roots in Mexico City, Sonora, Sinaloa and Mazatlan, Raul draws inspiration from nature and the richness of the world’s cultures. He credits his Hispanic heritage and parents for opening the world up to him.  Through their sense of humor and their appreciation and love of the many cultures of the world, his mother Aurora Natalia and his father Ruben Roberto recognized and lovingly nurtured Raul’s talents.  Aurora was a very creative, artistic woman and Ruben was an army veteran. They frequently took him and his sisters to museums and exhibits.  His extensive family and friends including two sisters, numerous cousins, and nieces and nephews continue to provide Raul with a vast and rich support system which he credits as being the great influences of his life.

Raul is classically trained in drawing and painting.  He studied at the prestigious Art Center School of Design, where he has been honored as Distinguished Alumnus. He has his bachelor’s degree from California State University Long Beach, and has received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of Redlands.  He has been named Hispanic Artist of the Year, and Citizen of the Year by the Lions Club.  He was awarded the Golden Eagle Award for “Excellence in Design” by Nosotros Foundation, and his team received Emmy coverage of the 2001 Tournament of Roses Parade on Univision.

His list of projects and clients would take page after page to mention, here are just a few.  Among Raul’s favorites are the Flamingo façade which he designed for Baron Hilton and the Reno Clown sign. The most challenging have been the Disney 50th Anniversary Parade and Six Flags in Mexico City.

Raul infront of one of his prize winning floats

Raul’s success is inspiring and impressive. While he has delighted millions of Rose Parade viewers throughout the years, he remains ever the humble and gracious man. Raul is quick to say that none of what he has done could have been accomplished alone.  He expresses gratitude to the thousands of people who he has worked with throughout his career.   “I have been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded and inspired by an incredibly talented group of builders and decorators, among them Tim Estes, President, and Jim Hynd, Vice President and Floral Director, of Fiesta Floats”.Other of Raul’s magical designs: Opening stage set of the World’s Fair in New Orleans, Art Director for Philadelphia’s “We the People 200” United States’ Bicentennial Parade, Consultant to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, The Flamingo Hilton, Tropicana, Ceasars Palace, Eldorado, Circus-Circus, Commerce Casino, Crown Plaza Hotel, Harley Davidson, Ferrari Carano Winery (labels and villa), Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams, Universal Studios, Landmark Entertainment, Radio City Music Hall in New York, Six Flags’ “Glow In The Park” parade, Dr. Pepper, Edison International, Subway Restaurants, Rainbird Sprinkler MFG Corp, FTD, Rotary International, Kodak, American Honda, Kaiser Permanente, Lawry’s Foods, Avon Products, Red Cross, Target Stores, Smart & Final, Countrywide Home Loans, US Postal Service, Cities of Cerritos, Ontario,  Torrance, West Covina, California, State of New Mexico, Thai Airways, Bangkok Thailand , China Airlines, Taiwan, Republic of China – and hundreds more, including religious organizations and municipalities both domestic and international.

written by

Emily is publisher and editor-in-chief of Mariposa Magazine. She's passionate about the hugely important role that Latinas play in the well-being and advancement of their families. She writes about Latina success stories and observations on life.
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