Viramontes was born in 1943 in Richmond, California, and received a B.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute and an M.A. from San Francisco State University. He was one of several artists and community activists who helped establish the Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco in order to exhibit art by Chicano and Mexican artists. As part of the Galeria's educational outreach program he painted several temporary, billboard-sized murals with such diverse topics as encouraging the community to keep its neighborhoods clean and discouraging children from eating junk food. The poster Boycott Grapes was commissioned by the Galeria de la Raza's founding director, Rene Yañez, to help support the work of the United Farm Worker's Union. Viramontes printed about twenty-five serigraphic impressions of the image and then gave the color separations to the UFW for offset lithography. When asked about political posters as an artistic medium, Viramontes wrote: "For making political statements, one can never underestimate the powers of a poster. A strong, well-executed image with a few chosen words can make a great impact and can outlive the memories of past rallies or political marches." The recipient of numerous printmaking awards, Viramontes has taught classes in etching, monoprint, linocut, and silkscreen techniques at City College in San Francisco since 1980. He is the chairman of the Fort Mason Campus Gallery, which showcases City College student work.
Therese Thau Heyman Posters American Style (New York and Washington, D.C.: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the National Museum of American Art, 1998)