Creating different versions of the Mexican Lotería card game isn’t a new idea, but over the last few years, Los Angeles-based Guatemalan artist Mike Alfaro has become one of the best at it.
His “Millennial Lotería,” which he started in 2017, was featured on the TV series Vida and has sold over 70,000 games on Amazon. Alfaro also signed a publishing and distribution deal with Blue Star Press and Penguin Books.
“Lotería is so important to people and it’s such a fun art form and so visual that it only makes sense that people would try to make their own cards and give it their own spin,” Alfaro told Time magazine. “I’m all for all these different Loterías coming out. There’s space for everybody to make this art form their own.”
Millennial Lotería includes cards like “La Selfie,” a redesigned version of the mermaid card “La Sirena” from the original game. In Alfaro’s adaptation, the mermaid, hair tossed back, is posing while taking a selfie with her cell phone. In another, the traditional “La Dama” card has been replaced with “La Feminist,” which features a woman carrying a protest sign and raising up her fist in power. Alfaro told Time that he wanted to make the changes because he thought the original game needed to be “modernized and updated.”
“I didn’t want people to cancel Lotería,” Alfaro says. “I wanted to keep it alive, and keep the tradition going; make it more modern and something that people feel excited to share and play with other people from different cultures.”
Some of the more recent images Alfaro has designed in 2020 include “La Trump Vaccine,” a card with a picture of a syringe filled with bleach; “El Halloween,” a card with a Jack-o-Lantern wearing a face mask; “La RBG,” a portrait of late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg; and “El 2020,” an image of a dumpster on fire with the word “basura” written on its side. There are also cards of President-elect Joe Biden (“El President”) and one of a Make America Great Again (MAGA) cap (“El Loser”).
“I think the great thing about Millennial Lotería is that we have so many cards that each card can represent one little aspect of what it means to be Latino and what it means to be a millennial Latino,” Alfaro says. “So, you can have all these different parts because Latinidad is so different.”