Creative Showcase

Armando Estrada

Web designer, photographer and Mac guru, Armando Estrada wears many hats.

Where are you from originally?

Born in Puerto Rico, grew up in Rochester, NY, moved to NYC then to Los Angeles in 1999.

How did you end up in web design and Photography?

Always was an artist, narrowed it down to comic book art in middle school and high school. Went to school in NYC at School of Visual Arts for cartooning. While in school, I worked at a Kinkos to pay rent and eat :) During my off time, I used the computer area and fell in love with the Mac. I started teaching myself the Mac (OS 7.something) and Photoshop (Version 3 at the time). I realized that my future was going to be more in computer/graphic design more than cartooning. I began to study graphic design on my own. When I attempted to change my major in school, I received resistance form the counselors. I also needed to go back and take a few other classes, which would have delayed my degree. So I bailed after 3 years. During this time, a friend graduated from NYU Film. Using some of the connections I made at Kinkos, I managed to get him a music video from a small record label for him to direct. Keep in mind that at the time everything was shot on 16mm or 35mm film. With a small budget of 10k, I managed to put it together. Thats when my dual life of working on design and film began. I started to produce small music vids and also work as a AD (Assistant Director). We did that for a few years and moved to Los Angeles. I stopped working on sets not long after and began building my client base for design soon after moving. Everything started to shift from print to web not long after, so I figured i learn the trade. My work went from print to web pretty quickly. I rent space from a 5 person design firm for myself and my assistant. Now my photography. (I told u this was going to be long :) In 2005 I got burned out and decided to go work for my hometown friends. One of them is Hip Hop producer and DJ, DJ Green Lantern. He was Eminems DJ and label mate for a while. I bought a Canon 20D right before moving and took photos while in NYC. I began to shoot and share with friends (many are working directors and producers in LA). After moving back to LA in 2006, I got a call from a friend about a project she was working on and she needed a photo assistant. Little did I know that it turned out to be a month and a half music video for Johnny Cash "God's Gonna Cut You Down" directed by Tony Kaye (American History X). I soon found myself working with Tony on a constant basis, traveling to a few countries and working on some amazing projects. During this time, I also began to work with other photographers on set as a digital tech and lighting assist, most notably with my best friend Raquel Olivo. Today I split my time with my design biz and photo stuff. I've worked with notable directors Tony Kaye, Jeremy Rall, Jonathan Glazer, Sean Thompson, Jason Bergh. Actors Terry crews, Al Thompson. Photographers Raquel Olivo, Caroline Greyshock and Tracey Morris.

As a designer, what do you like most about living in Burbank?

I have lived in Burbank since moving to LA in 1999. I love the home town feel, the media centric vibe. I dislike the police state.

How did the college experience affect who you are today?

It helped me find myself by knowing what I DONT want to be.

What was your first design job?

Freelancing at Kinkos. It was a non stop flood of clients and people needing something that was not offered as a service.

How do you describe your work?

Clean and modern? Yeah, ill go with that.

What inspires you most?

Images, photos, film, anything visual.

When did you first become interested in what you do?

See above, things dont always turn out the way you expect.

What has inspired and shaped you the most as a designer?

The fact that you are always learning something new, wether its a new technique or new software, the learning never stops.

Who and what are some of your biggest influences?

The people around me. I work with some amazing people and I'm very lucky to be around them. Sounds corny but its true.

What are some of your favorite books / sites?

All I read are tech books, like CSS, the missing manual, or AS3 books (not much of that anymore). I also love magazines, tech mags like UK's Web Design, Computer Arts. I also read a bunch of photo mags.
Websites, I visit my Mac blogs constantly (MacNN, AppleInsider, MacWorld,, etc). I also LOVE You can find some funny posts there, helpful stuff or just plain `ol jerks. You know, typical Internets....

Is there anyone you're interested in working with or for?

Whomever hires me as long as they are not a**holes, which can be easy to do in LA.

What are you currently working on? Anything fun and exciting you'd like to share?

We finished the Burbank Airport website a bit ago, and wrapping up the Animation Guild website. Ironically enough, I probably would have been a member of it if I were to continue on my cartooning career.

Can you tell us about any projects you've been involved in that you're particularly proud of?

Knowing that I was instrumental in the finished product of any project, wether a website, commercial, video or photo shoot.

What is a typical day like for you?

It varies so much. If I a lucky, I can go to the gym and get a good workout. I walk to my office most of the time, its only 1.5 miles way from home. I am usually in between 10-11am. On a typical day, my phone can ring 30 times. It could be a client asking for tech help (I am the goto Mac genius for most of my clients and friends). It could be a booking for a job, or my family. Since I rent from a bigger firm, I work with them on their clients jobs as well as my own. Meetings and critiques are a daily occurrence. Sometimes my "real" work doesn't start until 5 or 6pm. I usually leave my office between 7-8pm. Weekends are not immune, so working 20-30 days straight is not out of the ordinary.

How would you describe your creative process?

Talk to client. Get inspired. Sketch. Get inspired some more. Photoshop. Talk to client. Photoshop. Talk to client. Tell client why a Flash intro is just wrong. Start to build. Finish. Happy client. $. Rinse and repeat.

What's next in the world of Armando Estrada?

Re-do my personal design website and photography site. They have been neglected since 2008. Its pretty embarrassing. Im surprised people still hire me.