Brand and Theme Development for Muttville’s VIVA LOS MUTTS Fundraiser


I must admit this is one of my favorite concepts I have developed, and I owe it all to a vacation in Cuba!

Challenge: Every year we are honored to create the theme and design for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue’s annual gala fundraiser, Moolah For Mutts.  For its fifth year, I developed the theme design and concept: VIVA LOS MUTTS.  Inspired by my trip to Cuba in February, I returned with ideas for a brilliant concept based on the propaganda style visuals all over Cuba.

Switchblade Solution: I was inspired by the Plaza Revolucion in Havana and the illustrated faces of Jose Marti, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara (see this photo below.) Also, you just can’t get away from the propaganda in Cuba. There is no advertising in Cuba, so imagine if every ad and billboard in town was always the same message and images. Si, es Cuba!
2013-02-13 16.31.28I also spent time with the national animal rescue organization based in Havana and saw many hard looking scruffy faces. Noble, street dogs who know no other life than begging for food and sleeping in alleys, their skinny bodies covered in fleas and mange. The truth is many of these dogs were not sad. As I mentioned, they know no other life. And the same can be said for many people in Cuba.

Once I returned to the States and my computer, I already knew what the concept would look like – I knew the colors, the tone and mood, and the proud visual I wanted portrayed by faces of dogs.

This year, inspired by the three faces that every Cuban knows by heart, I chose to use three real Muttville dogs. Since Muttville had saved over 1500 dogs by that time, I still wanted to the three faces to represent all these dogs. Therefore I chose three faces that could represent a common face, illustrated in noble, proud postures.  I was very fortunate to have met at just the right time a new Muttville adopter who offered her talents as an illustrator. It was truly serendipitous!  Palina Klimava was able to transform the photos of Desi, Betty White, and Karma into what I envisioned. The theme concept was smoothly assembled to what you see as the final layouts.


The illustrations were based on these photos, thanks to Palina Klimava (that’s her Muttville dog, Desi!), Kira Stackhouse / Nuena Photography, and Ellen Pena Shershow / J’adore Le Chien Photography.

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And I must mention that the framed versions of the artwork sold during the fundraiser’s live auction to two winners for $1500 each!

I was also very honored to play a role in the making of this year’s video presentation. Filmmaker and my mentor, Jane Goldman, shot and edited “UNADOPTABLE”. I accompanied Jane to interviews with shelter staff and volunteers at  four Bay Area animal shelters: Tracy Animal Services, San Jose Animal Care Services, San Francisco SPCA, and Sacramento SPCA.  We interviewed rescue staff and volunteers about the plight of homeless senior dogs. I thought I knew what I signed up for, but the experience changed me in a way I didn’t foresee. Expect to see this short film make its way throughout the animal rescue world in the months to come.

I am over the top proud of the work we have been doing for Muttville, and I am especially proud how well our marketing and design work came out for this year’s fundraiser, plus the resulting funds we were able to raise.