Former Odessan helps design new White House logo

Throughout his years as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, former Odessan John Mata has seen his works featured in various publications, viewed by countless people all over.
His latest illustration though ranks at the top for him.
This month, Mata (who now lives in Dallas) helped illustrate the new White House logo that is now in use by the Biden administration.
“I cannot believe where art has taken me,” Mata said. “It’s taken me around the world, doing stuff that is seen by millions of people. It all started in a small Texas town where I was doodling all the time. I can’t thank my upper hand enough to encourage me to do what I like to do for a living.”
Mata is a 1999 graduate of Odessa High school and a 2003 graduate of UTPB. He lived in Odessa until 2008 after moving to Dallas.
Due to a non-disclosure agreement, Mata isn’t allowed to speak too much on the subject of his White House logo.
But he can safely say the whole process wasn’t a contest.
“It was a conscious decision,” Mata said. “It wasn’t like I did a contest or anything like that.”
The new logo, which is subtly refreshed from the Trump administration, depicts the White House façade with architectural details such as the columns and windows in white on a navy blue background.
Mata worked alongside creative agency Wide Eye to help design the logo along with creative director Carahna Magwood.
The logo can be seen on the White House website The changes went into effect on Inauguration Day two weeks ago.
Shortly after seeing the changes, Mata was receiving calls from friends and colleagues left and right.
“They were extremely proud and I was getting calls from the college,” Mata said. “If I can encourage anyone to go into design by being a mentor for them then that would be awesome because people do that for me.
“Now I can use a little bit of that and be like ‘hey, maybe you’re the next person to do this or go further than me and beyond.’”
For Mata, art was a big part of him growing up and continues to be to this day.
He’s thankful for all the help and encouragement his mentors at Odessa High and UTPB gave him.
“I was in AP art classes in high school,” Mata said. “My teachers really encouraged me to pursue art and when I got into college, I wasn’t sure about what I was going to be. But I was thankful that my advisors guided me to be an art major and I’m glad because I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
While Mata has a day job, he’s able to spend the weekends working with clients on illustrations and graphic designs.
His portfolio includes doing illustrations for National Public Radio, ESPN as well as Herb Lester Associates which make city guides around the world and is based in London.
“NPR hired me to do a cover for their donor gifts,” Mata said. “I did some holiday cards for them as well. It’s just random clients.
His work for ESPN included an illustration to try and recruit LeBron James to join the Mavericks.
“That was a fun little side project,” Mata said. “I drew a billboard that said “LeBron, come to Dallas, we’ll give you season tickets to the Cowboys.” I feel like my clients are so random and that’s why even getting this one (for the White House) was crazy.”
With each different client come different tasks for Mata to get it just right.
“It’s hard to say (because) each one presents its own challenges and its own unique touches that are required,” Mata said.
He continues to work in graphic design but says he’s gradually shifted towards doing more illustrations.
“I guess as a graphic designer, sometimes you feel like you can’t live in both worlds which is not 100 percent true,” Mata said. “Sometimes I feel like as a graphic designer it feels like you’re just doing logos and layouts and stuff like that. Whereas as an illustrator, you can say that you’re illustrating for a children’s book or I’m making drawings for this.
“I feel like for me, I was just doing graphic design until I got the opportunity to do an illustration for someone. Then, all of sudden, I liked both worlds. I like doing layouts and logos but I also like doing illustrations as well.”
What he loves the most about doing illustrations is being able to get paid to do what he loves.
“I know that sounds silly but at the end of the day, I feel like I’m getting paid to mess around and draw all day,” Mata said. “Sometimes it’s stressful but at the same time, it feels like it beats any other job that I’ve had where you don’t get to do things like that and make something out of nothing.”