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Meet Tristan Almario of Closer&Closer in Westside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tristan Almario.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tristan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My career trajectory can be the definition of untraditional (I’ll let you decide). I’m a college dropout that leads the Marketing team for an artist representation agency called Closer&Closer (yeah, we’re agents). We find remarkable artists from around the world and connect them with world-class clients like Apple, Facebook, and Disney (just to name a few) to do what they do best—create unforgettable visual experiences through illustration, animation, and design. Pretty cool, huh? I think so! But this isn’t a picture perfect story.

It all began when I played music in a band in high school. I was an “emo kid” with dreams to “make it” in music.

When I graduated in 2007, I was living day to day and had no job. One day, I got “the talk” from my parents about doing something with my life. They were right (I was waking up at 2pm in the afternoon). I started swirling yogurt at a place called Red Mango and that eventually led to working at Sony Pictures Entertainment folding clothes at the Studio Tour Store in 2009. During my years there, I would go from working in Facility Operations to TV Marketing and Digital Marketing. My wardrobe changed too. I said goodbye to the band tees and embraced shirts from J.Crew. It’s safe to say my music dreams faded and my ambition to become someone of importance grew. But that’s the problem! My goal was to become a hotshot marketing executive so that I could become someone of importance. Why? At the time, I didn’t know why. All I had was this idea that I wanted to be somebody that people revered.

In 2015, I would be part of helping plant a church called Hillsong Los Angeles and that’s when everything changed for the better. Throughout my time there, I began to wonder: What was I put on this earth to do? What is my calling? What is my purpose? Who am I? The list went on. I wasn’t working for the church (I was volunteering while working at all sorts of jobs) but I would become heavily involved in the Youth Ministry mentoring middle and high school students as the Youth Pastor in 2018. That’s when I learned that my purpose is to help people and that my desire is to see individuals grow to become the best version of themselves. I would eventually leave the church in June 2019 because I burned out (it happens) and I was stuck (again). Stuck similar to over a decade prior when I graduated high school. I also lost my job in December 2019 and had a couple of weeks to look for another one (just my luck, right?). I knew I wanted to be in a role to help people and help them grow and succeed.

Then in December of 2019, a lifeboat came to my rescue. Drew Melton, the founder of a little representation agency hit me up and offered me a spot to come work for him as his Executive Assistant. Yes, an assistant! Some people may think it’s a set back (especially with my experience), but it was actually a setup. A few months into the gig, I would get promoted to oversee the marketing department. Who would have thought? I know I didn’t. So that’s how I ended up at Closer&Closer. It was a journey of ups and downs, self-discovery, and (a lot of) patience.

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?
It hasn’t been a smooth road. I believe that life is never supposed to be smooth. If it was, are you actually living? My whole life has been a struggle. I’ve experienced and continue to experience pain and I believe that isn’t a bad thing. Pain produces perseverance and diamonds aren’t actually born diamonds. They are made when put under pressure and all of life’s challenges are for a reason and purpose to lead someone to what they’re supposed to do on this earth. I struggled with everything that many millennials or Gen-Zer’s still struggle with today: What do I want to do in my life? What’s my calling? What’s my purpose? What am I passionate about? Do I want to do this or that? I don’t know where to start. The list goes on. My story is an example of trying a bunch of things until it landed me into where I’m at now. Stagnation doesn’t exist.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I lead Marketing for Closer&Closer. We have a curated roster of world-class artists that are illustrators, designers, and animators. I specialize in building relationships with future partners and help develop our artists to expand their influence. We like to say, “make our artists famous” and it’s true. We got one of our artists, Monique Aimee, to embrace TikTok. She grew from 200-something followers to 56k in less than a few months. In a platform filled with memes and comedy videos, she’s pioneering a new wave of content focused on art and tutorials.

I am proud of how small yet quick and effective we are as an organization. There are a few competitors in our industry, however, we truly are an artist-first agency. We put our artists first in everything we do. We’ve even let go of high profile clients if they don’t treat our artists right or pay on time. Another thing that sets us apart from the rest is that we’re not just their agents and only communicate with them when a project comes up. We spend time developing them so that they can become the best at what they do.

Our values have been tested on a number of occasions. Recently, we had a virtual presentation planned with Disney. If you don’t know this by now, I’m a go-getter. I wanted to bring in a couple of artists from our roster to showcase their work to their team. One of our artists lives in Spain. The meeting was set at a time that was 11:30pm in her time. She reached out to me via e-mail and immediately I thought to myself “This is Disney. We can’t be a hindrance and readjust. What if they get annoyed?”. And then it hit me. We’re an artist-first agency. My thought process was not aligned with our agency’s values. So I reached out to Disney and we rescheduled the presentation. We really put our artists first — that’s what sets us apart from the rest.

We also started a podcast called The Closer&Closer Podcast that aims to help freelancers in the greater creative field thrive. Not everyone can get repped by us. Nonetheless, we want to do our part to contribute to the greater creative community.

What were you like growing up?
I was super shy growing up and it’s still a mystery as to why I’m so extroverted today. I literally get fulfilled by relationships with people. I remember in middle school being self-conscious about the way I looked and the shoes that I wore. All the other kids were wearing Nike’s and my parents could only afford shoes from Payless. It was really hard growing up in a low-income home. The theme of finance and the changing world gave me a lot of anxiety as a kid. Seeing my parents struggle was heartbreaking. I felt so helpless. So when I was growing up and going to school, I always feared getting judge by people which stunted my growth to some extent.

It’s safe to say that Los Angeles is hard. This city will break you down and reveal what you’re really made of. It will prune you to the core and if your goal is really to be an actor, writer, agent, manager, producer, whatever…you’ll stick it out. But, I’ve seen people come and go after just months. I’ve seen people fall into depression or get into heavy alcohol/drug use because they’re not where they thought they would be. And that’s my biggest encouragement for you reading this right now — I was like those people. Chasing a position because I wanted the admiration, importance and respect. There’s a lot of people that want to become somebody and oftentimes, that can be rooted from a place of insecurity.

Maybe even a place of lack like myself. A desire to be more than what they are. But friend, let me tell you, that is not the move. Your identity isn’t found in your position, a title, your salary, what TV/movie show you booked to be on, or how much money you’ve made. Your identity should be rooted in what is true. And the truth is that you’re a human that is wonderfully made and designed for a purpose. You’re probably wondering to yourself, how do I find out and know? That’s where the hard work begins. It’s not easy. We live in a world and culture that has no patience. When we want something, we want it now because the world tailored us for it. So my advice is this, stop comparing yourself to others. If you can afford it, see a therapist every week (like me). Start to dig into why you want to do the things that you do. Because if you can figure out the why, that can help sustain you for whatever is in your heart.

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Image Credit:

Juderay Almario

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