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Meet Nikki Escamilla Guardiola

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Escamilla Guardiola.

Hi Nikki, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Growing up in a Mexican household was a blessing.

A lot of the lessons and values I carry with me came from watching my parents work hard on their small businesses while taking care of me and my brother. I always felt the proper way to pay them back for everything they had given us was to work 40 hours a week at the biggest company I could find. Deep inside, though, I knew I just wanted to draw and paint.

I grew up imagining that I would graduate with an animation degree and go straight to working for Pixar or Disney. I figured if I wasn’t going to become a doctor or lawyer, I could at least work for the big dogs in the art world. Well, there’s a saying my mom tells me often: “Haz planes y Dios se ríe. “ Or “Make plans and God laughs.”

I ended up graduating from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s in both Visual Communication and Anthropology. After that, I started working at a design agency that catered to car dealerships. I would create TV commercials and marketing campaigns for some well-known brands. A year later, I started working for my alma mater as a multimedia designer. It might not have been Pixar, but I was working those 40 hours and making decent money.

After two years and one worldwide pandemic, my fiancé and I decided to leave Flagstaff and I was met with a fork in the road. Do I apply to another 9-5 design job or try my hand at becoming a freelance graphic designer? I suddenly remembered how hard my parents worked and how tired they had been.

I also remembered how proud they were of what they created and how involved they were in our lives because they didn’t have to follow someone else’s schedule. Who knows where I’ll end up in 5 years. I’ve learned to enjoy the journey and be present for all of it.

I might not be working for Pixar or Disney, but I’m starting my own small graphic design business and boy does that fill me with excitement!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The road has taken me up and down, side to side, and all around. I suspect that it’ll never be smooth, and I guess that’s just a part of working on a small business.

I have two main struggles and they have to do with people! I was so used to working with a team in both my previous positions that it was a shock to have to start working by myself. You can only talk to yourself so much before you start missing office banter and helpful feedback on projects. I’m also an introvert.

I prefer for someone else to start conversations which is a problem when you need to reach out to clients. I’m learning to be more comfortable with sparking conversations, though. I have fumbled a few and probably tried too hard on others, but it’s a process.

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?
I call myself a multimedia designer because to use the single title of graphic designer, illustrator, or motion designer feels like a lie. I’m a curious soul who loves to explore new ways to create content for clients. After all, I’ve recognized that every client and situation needs a specific design solution. So it’s my job to find out what client goals are and how best to reach them via designs.

While I won’t niche down to a specific kind of designer, I do like to work with specific clients: educators. Not necessarily teachers and professors in traditional brick-and-mortar schools, so don’t be scared off! The internet has allowed us to communicate with others in amazing ways and to share our knowledge easily.

Experts can share what they know through workshops. Students no longer have to go to a traditional school but can instead take online courses to prep them for their next job. Even regular people who’re passionate about a topic can share their nerdy knowledge through TikTok or YouTube. What an age to live in!

I’m here to serve those clients because I would consider myself a nerd too. I love to learn and it’s rewarding being able to help people share content they love with others in an engaging way. I’ve learned to do this through infographics, illustrations, animated teaching videos, etc.

Do you want to know the best part, though? Not only do I enjoy these projects, but it’s fun that I get to learn about something new in the process!

The project I’m most proud of would be a three-part video series I created for a class about stress management. It was the first video series that I decided to do completely animated—which was terrifying! This project pushed me outside of my comfort zone and showed me that I could break down a complicated plan to create something entertaining and educational.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
The short answer is yes. From learning to prioritize our health to being thankful for our families, these past two years have dealt with heavy lessons.

Personally, though, my biggest takeaway was learning to be ok with myself. When everything slowed down, I realized how much comfort I found in “being on the go.” The Covid-19 crisis forced me to sit still for longer than I was used to. I see now that it was a blessing in disguise, but at the time I couldn’t help but feel useless.

Who was I if not the over-achiever who took on every project and worked hard so that everyone could see how successful I was? Life is short and no one gets an achievement award in the end. I’m learning to be present, take one day at a time, and surround myself with kind people.

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