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Meet Rudy Manning of Pastilla in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rudy Manning.

Rudy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been drawing, designing, creating ever since I can remember. That creative thirst stayed with me throughout High School. There was a senior in my class, I was then a junior, who talked about going to study Graphic Design after high school; he mentioned that he was going to go to Pasadena City College and then transfer to ArtCenter. I was immediately curious because I didn’t know what Graphic Design was at that time. My creative world at that time involved paint to brush to canvas, that’s all I knew and that’s all I wanted to do. So I asked him what Graphic Design was and he said a few things, but my “ah-ha” moment came when he said, “It’s like doing things for MTV.” I didn’t fully understand what he meant, but I fully understood MTV, and that was the prime age of MTV, and so if MTV + Art equaled a career, I was there.

I ended up going to Cal Poly Pomona for a few years, but when I really found my connection to graphic design was when I took a night class at ArtCenter. I was so inspired to be around so many different types of creative students and instructors. I knew I was in a special place the first day I took a night class there. I then applied and got enough scholarships to pay my full tuition.

I graduate ArtCenter in ’97 with the confidence that I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted. It was a great time to graduate in graphic design. It was the dawn of the digital revolution and as designers, we were right in the thick of it. I was curious about all the different media in design, not only print and branding but motion, digital, film. We saw the definition of a designer blurring more and more than it had ever done in the past.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Just as there have been many successes there have been plenty of challenges, both on the professional side and personal as well.

After about 7 years freelancing in design, I had built a body of work and clientele. I was quite comfortable where I was professionally, but I knew there was more, so I decided to start my design studio, Pastilla Studio. As anyone knows, starting a business means overcoming obstacles to get to that success and this was no different. The business took off from the beginning as we kept almost doubling business for the first 3-4 of years, but in those first years I was also learning about the operations of the business. I didn’t know how to actually build a business, I was running a business and not building one.

So in 2009 when the financial crisis came, we were hit and had to make some gut-wrenching decisions, for the sake of my business, and so I made some huge sacrifices and worked on keeping the business afloat. It didn’t take too long before I was seeing the upside and landed a few Fortune 500 clients that eventually brought the business back to life. We started doubling in profits year after year to then landing another Fortune 100 client in 2012 that eventually put Pastilla on the map.

Of course, there’s been ups and downs along the way, but as you mature as an entrepreneur you learn how to handle the downs and how to leverage the ups.

Please tell us about Pastilla.
In 2018, we merged with a digital marketing agency to become a full service branding, creative and performance marketing agency. We now provide creative and data-driven marketing technology to deliver measurable results for brands. We’ve partnered with clients such as Nokia, Microsoft, SAP, Disney, ESPN, Relativity Films, Hudson Pacific Properties and the Westfield Group to produce a full breath of award-winning work.

An important aspect of why we merged is to be able to leverage our design background with data-driven marketing technology. We’re now not only creating brands but helping clients build and grow their brands and that excites me.

One of my proudest moments so far was seeing our work on one of the largest billboards in Timesquare. There were about 8 different billboards throughout Timesquare with our work, but seeing in on the largest billboard was definitely a happy moment for me.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Some of my fondest memories as a child are when I lived in Germany as a child from ages 7 to 11, so I remember the first time I saw snow. It seems cliché, but I was looking out the window on Christmas Eve when I saw snow for the first time. I still love snow, but maybe I still love it because I live in sunny California.

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1 Comment

  1. Rameen

    September 17, 2018 at 16:22

    Great interview. Art Center 1997!

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