PAST LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHTS

Vannessa Plaza – 
Visual Development Artist

November 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Vannessa Plaza is a Visual Development Artist and aspiring high school art teacher who was born in Los Angeles and moved to the city of Tracy, California at the age of five. She attended San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton where her love of art drove her to pursue Art and Design as a professional career. Soon after, Vannessa was accepted into San Jose State University’s rigorous Animation/Illustration program, where she spent five years of her life focusing on Visual Development and Illustration.


 After working in the industry as a graphic designer and a freelance artist, Vannessa decided to combine her love for art with her desire to help others. After working as an After School Program Teacher in 2018, she decided that teaching art in secondary education was the perfect career choice. Vannessa is currently a graduate student at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where she is working on her single-subject credentials and will be eligible to teach by Fall 2021. As of now, she has been student teaching at a high school in Elk Grove, as well as mentoring 6th grade students in Animation through the Youth Cinema Project.

Xochitl Beatriz Thienes – 
Prop and Character Designer

October 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Xochitl Thienes is an artist currently working in the animation industry, focusing on prop and character design. She grew up in Los Angeles county and to this day resides within the county. Currently, she is working as a prop/fx designer at Nickelodeon on The Loud House spinoff, The Casagrandes. In the past, she has worked for both the animation and video game industry. In addition to her current full time position at Nickelodeon, she also does freelance for various game and animation studios. Some of her past clients include JumpStart Games, Supercell, Titmouse Inc, LEGO, and other independent clients.

Charis Jackson Barrios –
Story Artist and Political Cartoonist

August 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Charis JB is a 2nd generation immigrant raised in South Carolina after her mother and grandmother came over from Paraguay. She is a graduate of The Cooper Union, the 2018 recipient of the Locher Award for comics journalism, and an ongoing contributor for The Nib. Currently, she lives in LA looking to pursue storytelling within animation.

Krissy Estrada – Producer

July 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

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. 

Christian Ibarra –
Stop Motion Animator

May 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Christian Ibarra is a stop motion animator who grew up in East LA, and West Covina with his Mexican immigrant parents who are both educators. He attended Mt. San Antonio College, then transferred to Cal State Fullerton where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Art. He works at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and has worked on Robot Chicken, Crossing Swords, Supermansion, Lego Masters, and more. Currently he’s working on Gloop World set to stream on Quibi!

Maria Escobedo – Writer

APRIL 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Maria is a first generation Cuban-American raised in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood.  Yes, that Washington Heights.  The one that Lin-Manuel Miranda sang about: In The Heights! — complete with abuelas spying over the neighborhood from their windowsill; Bodega owners chasing graffiti artists; and Latino kids with big dreams.
 
Maria spent her summers in Miami and Puerto Rico, with family, food, music, and politics.  It wasn’t really a summer vacation — it was full-on immersion of the language and culture.  And, although she didn’t quite appreciate it as a kid, she does now, which is why she sends her teenaged daughter to Miami every summer!  She hopes she’s alive to see her daughter start appreciating this circle-of-life thing.
 
Maria has been writing for animated kids TV for years and loving it. Her credits include, Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, and the upcoming Santiago Of The Seas; Disney Jr’s Elena of Avalor, and Special Agent Oso; Universal Kids’ Nina’s World, which earned Maria a Humanitas Award nomination; Amazon’s If You Give A Mouse A Cookie; Netflix’s upcoming What-To-Doodles! and Madagascar: A Little Wild for Dreamworks.  In addition, she has also developed original pilots for Amazon Kids, FableVision, and Mundo Lanugo.
 
Maria has live action experience, too, with credits including Grey’s Anatomy, HULU’s East Los High and the indie film Rum and Coke, which she also directed.  She’s developed movies and pilots for Lifetime, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and recently a dramedy pilot for ABC.
 
Maria has a degree in film from NY’s School of Visual Arts, studied screenwriting at NYU, playwriting at The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and earned a TV Writing Fellowship from ABC/Disney. She served as Chair of the Latino Writers Committee at the WGA for 5 years, and teaches writing at USC. 

Iveth  Bueno –
Lead Lighter & Compositing Artist

MARCH 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Growing up in Mexico, a country full of color in its folklore, would inspire Iveth Bueno to focus in the arts. Coming from a family of scientists and designers would motivate her to combine her interests with technology, resulting in a career in CG lighting and compositing for VFX and animation. For over 8 years, she has worked in the animation industry for companies such as Disney, DreamWorks and Rainmaker. Working as a lighting artist for ZootopiaTrollsBoss Baby, and other movies. 

In 2017, fascinated by diffracted lighting phenomena and beautifully designed urban lamps, Iveth Bueno decided to explore abstract photography with “The Optical Forest” project. Her goal is to evoke an emotion in the viewer through color and form, by combining light physics, old special effects techniques and hand-crafted optical tools.

Alicia Estrada – Character Designer and Concept Artist

JANUARY 2020 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Alicia Estrada is a Character Designer and Concept Artist from Burbank, CA. In 2014, she received her Bachelors degree in Animation from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She has worked in consumer products as a Concept artist for Quantum Mechanix and most recently as a Junior Designer for Spin Master, Inc.  Alicia enjoys drawing everyday and is dedicated to broaden her artistic skills in animation.

Lalo Alcaraz – Writer, Producer, and Political Cartoonist

OCTOBER 2019 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Lalo Alcaraz is probably the most prolific Chicano artist in the nation, according to this bio.

This award-winning joker has spent two decades chronicling the political ascendancy of Latinos in America and pushing the boundaries of Chicano art. He is the creator of the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, “La Cucaracha,” he co-founded the political comedy troupe Chicano Secret Service and he co-hosts the infamous “Pocho Hour of Power” on KPFK in Los Angeles (90.7 FM).

Lalo also teaches at Otis College of Art & Design in L.A. Alcaraz recently won the So Cal Press Club Award for Best Editorial Cartoons in 2010. Rumor has it he was actually born here.

Tony Morales – Composer

SEPTEMBER 2019 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

EMMY®-nominated composer Tony Morales has traversed the worlds of drama, animation, and documentary for both film and television. This year has seen the release of the ESPN documentary “The Dominican Dream”, which premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and “Wish Man”, the true story of Frank Shankwitz, who established the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

Morales is also the composer for the Disney animated series “Elena Of Avalor” for which he received two Daytime EMMY nominations and an Annie Award nomination.

Morales began his career as a composer within Hans Zimmer’s Media Ventures in 1998. As an additional music composer & arranger, he soon found himself working with and learning from some of the top film composers including Harry Gregson-Williams, John Debney and Brian Tyler, contributing to such scores as “Iron Man 3”, “Fast Five”, “Unstoppable”, “The Town”, and “The Change-Up”.

In 2012 Morales earned his first Primetime EMMY nomination for the mini-series “Hatfields & McCoys” (co-composed with John Debney).

Since that time, he has gone on to compose numerous scores for film and television including the 2015 Netflix series “Bloodline” (co-composed with Edward Rogers), the hit CBS TV show “Scorpion” (co-composed with Brian Tyler), “An Actor Prepares” (directed by Steve Clark, starring Jeremy Irons) and “In Your Eyes” (written by Joss Whedon).

A guitar player since the age of six, music has always been a part of Morales’ life. After an adolescence spent playing in a series of unfortunately named bands, he retired his Flying V and turned to the world of film music.

Sarah Baluch – First Assistant Editor

August 2019 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Sarah Baluch is an assistant editor working in animation.  She is currently the First Assistant Editor on a feature at Skydance Animation, with previous experience working at DreamWorks Animation Television and Warner Bros. Animation.  Before working in post-production, Sarah worked as a software developer at a startup in Los Angeles.  She holds degrees in Computer Science and Critical Studies from the University of Southern California.

Mirelle Ortega – Visual Development

JULY 2019 LXiA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

LatinX in Animation is proud to announce our new monthly series: LXiA Artist Spotlight, which focuses on a member of our artistic community. Kicking off this series is up and coming illustrator and visual development artist, and we dare say, someone to watch for in 2019, Mirelle Ortega.

Mirelle Ortega is based in LA but originally from the southeast of Mexico, and has a passion for storytelling, sci-fi, film, tv, color and culture. Mirelle has a BFA from the Tecnológico de Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) in digital art and 3D animation, and a MFA from Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She is fluent in Spanish and English.