July 2020 - Krissy Estrada
Krissy Estrada is a Producer from Texas currently living in Los Angeles, CA. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Film from the University of Notre Dame. She has worked in animation, motion graphics, and design for clients such as FX, Netflix, Apple, Fox, AirBnB, NFL, ESPN, and Lyft. She was also a part of the animation team for the feature documentary film “He Named Me Malala.” She is the co-founder of a monthly motion graphics meetup group called R&D.
She is currently a staff producer at State Design. Krissy enjoys learning more about project management, and continues to search for the best tortillas in all of Los Angeles.
Hi Krissy, thank you so much for participating in this month’s Member Spotlight! Please, tell us about yourself.
Hi, thanks for having me! My name is Krissy Estrada. I was born and raised in Texas, went to college at the University of Notre Dame, and currently work in Los Angeles as a producer at a motion graphics studio called State Design. In between all of that I’ve lived in Chicago, Tokyo, Shanghai, Austin, and am now living in LA.
I like to think of myself as a very well-rounded producer. I’ve worked on a whole variety of projects. I’ve jumped around from VFX, 3D, 2D, cel, and live-action across various commercials, music videos, graphics packages, features, short films, concert visuals, title sequences, social media campaigns, and more.
You have many years of experience coordinating projects and now contributing to them as a producer. Do you have any influences that helped get you to where you are today?
I’ve had SO many people who have helped me along the way (Networking y’all. It matters.) but there are a few specifically that I’d like to call out:
- My first boss in the industry, Jason White, of Leviathan in Chicago. (You never forget the first person who took a chance on you.) He was extremely wise and willing to mentor me–it was a very Mr. Miyagi kind of situation. His list of seemingly meaningless tasks that he delegated to me all created a foundation that made me the producer I am today.
- My close friend and fellow producer Lusia Share. She helped me get my first job in LA and has always been there to give me advice. I worked as her coordinator for a while at The Mill and learned so much from her. She is amazing at what she does.
- My current boss and close friend, Marcel Ziul. He has shown me firsthand what being a great leader of a studio looks like. The care he shows for his employees and his work ethic are beyond belief.
I think it’s so important, especially early on in your career, to find mentors. Looking back, I would easily pick a job where I had the opportunity to learn from someone invested in my growth over a company that was well-known or offering a higher salary (though those things are nice too).
Can you tell us about your motion and design organization, R&D? What inspired you to co-create this group?
R&D is a monthly meetup event we do at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Each month we bring speakers or create panels to discuss different topics related to motion graphics, animation, and design.
I really wanted to create a stronger sense of community in LA. There are so many of us that work in this industry, have the same struggles, have the same dreams, and yet we don’t talk to each other. Even before Covid-19, more and more work was being done by freelancers at home alone. It’s been great to have a place for people to meet each other AWAY from computers and screens. I truly believe we don’t do this enough.
I was inspired by the motion graphics community in Chicago. When I just started my first job, I attended a few events and there was something so lovely about seeing familiar faces at the different events across town. It made it less about “a job” and more about being a part of a community.
The final straw for me was attending SCAD’s motion graphics event called Comotion. It’s this amazing event put on by the student motion graphics club where they invite employers for portfolio reviews, put on panels, and hold mixers. It’s basically a mini-design conference. I’ve had the privilege of attending twice now and I am continuously impressed by the quality of the event. But more importantly, I was impressed and inspired by the way the students supported one another. It would be easy to talk each other down in order to secure that internship at your dream studio, but instead, every student was lifting each other up and praising each other’s talents. That’s the kind of mindset we need here in Los Angeles.
We’re living in a time where the call for more diversity in entertainment media is more prevalent. What are your thoughts on seeing more diversity in motion graphics, especially as a woman in a male-dominated field?
I’m seeing a lot of positive change right now, especially in regards to being a woman in this industry. When I started out, you mainly saw women in production roles only. More recently, it’s become common to see women as designers. I still don’t see many women in animation roles in either 2D or 3D at studios I know. But when I visited universities for portfolio reviews, I was very excited to see that there were many ladies studying animation! Change is coming!
My next hope is to see more women in positions of leadership. It’s tough because generally when you get to that point in your career, you might also be starting a family and this industry does not have the most family-friendly, or rather, working mom-friendly hours or workload. And in my experience, there is a particular breed of Latinx mom guilt that comes with being away from your children. But I believe, the more women and women allies who are in leadership, the more we can affect the circumstances that moms need to continue in their career. I’ve met some kickass moms in this field who are making it happen.
Are there any trends on the visual and also technical side of this industry? What do you see in the future of motion graphic design?
Right now I see cel/2D animation having a resurgence of popularity but it’s unclear to me where motion graphics will go from here given our current situation. I’m interested in how remote workflows will affect how we structure studios & teams in the future. I am curious whether this will continue post Covid-19, which could potentially give even more opportunities for our international artists looking to work with studios in LA.
Do you have any advice to share with aspiring motion graphic designers?
- Don’t try to be the artist you think studios want, be the artist you want to be and the work will come. You can specialize in a certain style or skill and become well known for that, especially in Los Angeles. Work on being the best version of the type of art YOU want to do.
- Reach out. People are generally very nice in this industry and if you reach out to others for help or advice, you will most likely get the help you’re asking for.
- Keep your emails short. Resource Managers/HRs generally have 30-45 seconds to browse an email so make the important info easy to find.
- Show up. Do your best work. Keep a positive attitude.
- Never stop learning. This field and the technologies we use will always change. The best way to keep yourself from becoming irrelevant is to continuously foster a love of learning.
- Enjoy the process. We seem to always be stressed meeting the next deadline, getting the next render finished but then the project is over and we start again. Learn to enjoy the process of not knowing the answer, finding solutions, and problem solving.
- Network. Go to as many events like LatinX in Animation or R&D as you can. This industry is smaller than you think and the best way producers like to find new artists is through recommendations from artists they already know and like. So be kind and get out there.
I could talk forever. I’m like that tia who loves to give you unsolicited advice.
It’s wonderful to see how much you have accomplished in your career. What is next for you and R&D?
I have a big project for ESPN’s College GameDay that we just wrapped that will hopefully be out later this year. R&D is currently on hiatus because of Covid-19 but we’re brainstorming ideas on how to create our next generation of events and what the future of meet-ups will look like.
Thank you for interviewing with us, Krissy!
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