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Meet Andrea Cruz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Cruz.

Hi Andrea, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My name is Andrea Cruz. I am a Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Los Angeles, California. I am currently working as a Designer at ViacomCBS and have been with the company for nine months. This road has not been easy. It’s been quite challenging for a young, creative, and goal-oriented individual such as myself. But, it has been very rewarding, and I will continue to press forward despite the “bumps in the road.” This is my journey:

As a child, I was always artistic and creative. Growing up, I would draw on pieces of paper and had fun doing hands-on school projects. I enjoyed things that allowed me to utilize my creativity. I was a shy kid and focused on my education. Aside from art, I was a science and mathematics nerd. For one of my middle school science projects, I made a gastrointestinal tract with a Halloween skeleton. My family used it that year. I created all of the organs in the digestive system with materials I found laying around my house. I remember the day I submitted it to my teacher like it was yesterday. She was so impressed that she asked me if I wanted to join the M.E.S.A. competition (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement). Crazy enough, I won first place!

I’ve admired people who knew exactly what they wanted to do. I struggled with navigating through my career…little did I know it would lead me to a profession I did not think was possible. During my senior year in high school, I knew it was time to start looking at colleges. As I was looking through what majors interested me, I was debating between Business and Art. I ended up choosing the arts field even though I didn’t know what that would entail. However, I am very fortunate to have parents that encouraged me to pursue something I am passionate about. I went to an art school program to build my portfolio that would enhance my art college applications. My grandma was very supportive and helped pay for the art program since my parents couldn’t afford it. That same year, my grandma passed away. I was balancing Senior year, building my art portfolio, and visiting her at the hospital every night after school. There weren’t many days left to spend with her, so I brought my portfolio to the hospital and worked on it there so she could see my work.

From then on, all I ever wanted to do was succeed. I applied to art colleges in Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and San Francisco. I was drawn to Otis College of Art and Design’s Fashion Design and Digital Media programs. After seeing all the Digital Media portfolios at Otis, I was blown away by the variety of styles and television/film title sequences. I ended up majoring in Digital Media: Motion Graphics. That’s where I learned how to use different software; from Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects) to Maxon (Cinema 4D). Otis allowed me to explore different mediums and styles in design.

Within my career timeline, I’ve worked in various companies. I designed a car commercial for my first gig. I then moved into stationery products and illustrations and ventured into social campaigns and key art for streaming services afterward. This past year has been significantly challenging since COVID paused the industry. It made me wonder if I had made the right career choice and if things would’ve been better had I chosen business. So far, this year has been great, and I’m thrilled that I am now working at ViacomCBS. It’s an absolute dream come true!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
In the beginning, it was not as smooth. I didn’t know a single thing about any of the software I’m using today (and memorizing all the tools within them took a lot of time). The projects that I worked on had good ideas but not good execution. I kept comparing myself to others who had the skill set, performance, and outstanding projects, which made me feel like I would never succeed in this field. Everyone was able to land an internship, get job offers, and make connections. All the rejections lowered my confidence. However, I soon realized that everything happens for a reason. Those rejections meant that something better was coming. I’ve had many obstacles come my way, and I’m very proud of how I overcame them. I see how these challenges allowed more growth opportunities. I am authentic in my creative styles and work on keeping that authenticity daily.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a Designer at ViacomCBS. I focus on telling stories through imagery, whether an illustration, photo composition, 3D, or graphic design. I also work with the decorative arts. In addition, I specialize in designing various materials for marketing, brand concepts, artwork, layouts, and assets for CBS Originals, promotions, and events. As a result, I can observe things critically and think outside of the box.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
My advice is to find what you are passionate about and go for it. Life is never going to be a smooth road. Know that the road can be rough, but it’s worth it if you remain on it. There are always going to be obstacles to endure. Do not allow anyone to doubt and underestimate you! It takes discipline, dedication, and determination. I genuinely believe hard work leads to success. I wish I had known earlier that being different wasn’t necessarily bad. It’s unique, makes you stand out from others, and confirms that no one will be exactly like you. For anyone out there who may feel the same, this article is for you.

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