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Meet Ariana Pacino of ARANCINI in Culver City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariana Pacino.

Ariana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a freelance graphic designer, motion graphics artist, and editorial illustrator. Throughout school, I was always that kid in charge of drawing the pictures and hand-lettering all the poster titles for group projects. I was always more of an intellectual/ creative child than an active one. I would sit inside during recess to spend extra time perfecting my school art project instead of playing outside… not much has changed since then. I’m still the same over-achieving perfectionist as I was in kindergarten.

At around 11, my mom decided to put me in traditional art lessons where I learned to oil paint, watercolor, and classically draw. I remember joining the adult classes and fainting (from being so nervous) the first time I had to draw a live nude figure. I was so embarrassed. Around the same time, I took my first computer class in middle school where I learned Adobe Photoshop, little did I know this would be something I would use almost daily for the next ten years.

I was born and raised in Culver City, California. Being “The Heart of Screenland” and home to some of the most famous contemporary art galleries in the world, Culver City provided me many opportunities to gain experience in the art world, starting especially at Culver City High School. I was president of AVPA Visual Art and had the opportunity to exhibit my work at LACMA, CAFAM, CAAM, Sony Pictures Studio, Corey Helford Gallery, The Brewery, The Kirk Douglas Theatre, and the California and United States Capitol Building. (Shoutout to Kristine Hatanaka for being the most devoted program director ever.)

During my senior year of high school, after hearing many times about the reputation of ArtCenter College of Design as being the most rigorous and highly regarded design school in the world, it only felt natural that I apply.

Three years later, I graduated ArtCenter with a BFA in Illustration and a focus in business. The growth I obtained from ArtCenter was tremendous, as I entered with dreams of being a fine artist in the gallery world, to leaving the school with my own graphic design branding studio, ARANCINI.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
ArtCenter was definitely a challenge; however, I have no regrets in attending and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The first few terms were especially difficult. I saw about half of the students I started with drop out due to the intensity of the courses. I remember most weeks pulling 2-3 all-nighters and other nights finishing work around 5 a.m. with 2 hours to sleep before my next class. Eventually, students learn to view all-nighters almost as a notch on their belt, something to brag about and be proud of. I certainly did.

Despite the lack of sleep, I look back on these times fondly as I LOVED working in a fast-paced environment surrounded by other creatives who really care about their work as much as I do, even if it means running from campus to campus in the middle of the night through to the morning.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the ARANCINI story. Tell us more about the business.
I am currently running two businesses. One is ARANCINI (, a Los Angeles-based creative studio bringing brands a unique visual language through design, animation, and illustration. It serves primarily fashion, beauty, and lifestyle clients by merging the gap between graphic design and illustration. I work with entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized companies to help them build their brands across print and digital media. This can include logos/ animated logos, website design, product packaging, animated advertisements, social media content, textile design, art direction and various marketing materials. A full list of services can be found on the site!

I am also an editorial illustrator ( I create detailed, often animated portraits for articles, magazines, newspapers, webitorials, etc. My work involves heavy use of pattern, color, and detail and ranges from fashion illustration to celebrity portraiture.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
When I create, I work based off of intuition. For example, when I find the perfect combination of size, shape, color, and composition, there is an indescribable, instinctual feeling that just… feels right. Throughout my education, I’ve come to realize that either you’ve got that special spark of understanding the complex science of aesthetic, or you don’t, and my professors sure weren’t afraid of letting you know. There were many, many instances of students crying during class critiques because professors would say things like “I’m sorry, but you just need to choose a different career.”

There are no set in stone rules to teach you how to design and there is no definition of beauty, which is why art education can be tricky. I believe great designers strive for the special moment when everything feels right, the moment you just know that your work is complete.

Whether or not this instinct is something we are lucky to have been born with, or it is something years of exposure to great design will slowly develop within you, I’m not sure. Perhaps it is a combination of the two, but I do feel lucky to have this intuitive process and to have the product of it be recognized more often than not with praise.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
ARANCINI, studio by Ariana Pacino

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