It’s always rewarding for us to see a student hone their skills in the DCA program, graduate with a strong portfolio, and land a job they are really excited about. Recent graduate Daniel Coutinho has done just that! He’s landed a full time job in a great motion graphics studio called Buck and, as he put it, “It’s been amazing, everything working out perfectly for me.”
We recently caught up with him via email to learn more about his journey from student to working design professional:
1) What was your job search like?
As an international student I knew I had the chance to apply for an OPT after finishing the Program, and so I did. My search wouldn’t be the the same without the Internet, that’s for sure. Motion Graphics is the Design area that I like the most, and for quite some time I had had a list of LA-based Motion Graphics studios I’d love to work for if I ever had the chance, as well as their contact information I got from their websites. So I updated my online portfolio, included some favorite pieces of work I had created during the Certificate Program and e-mailed the producers of all those companies, letting them know I was looking for freelance work as a Designer/Animator. The reason why I was specifically looking for freelance work is because my plan was to get to know some companies during my Practical Training time, learn from their professionals, understand their process and feel out the environment. I had experienced friends that helped me a lot during this time; I would send out many e-mails every day and slowly started to get a few answers—it is true that you have to be persistent and patient. Freelancing at different places was incredibly rewarding, I’m thankful for everyone I crossed paths with during this period, I learned a lot about the craft and met outstanding artists, until I eventually decided to settle down when Buck, a great studio in Downtown LA where I freelanced for a few months before, offered me a position.
2) Please tell us about your new company and your new position. What are you most excited about? What are the major challenges?
Buck is a 10-year-old company filled with fun, hard-working creative people that produces a style of work I really like seeing and making. What they do is basically Motion Graphics and Animation for TV and Internet commercials, and in my opinion they differentiate themselves by really thinking outside the box when it comes to converting the client’s needs into beautiful imagery and by being pioneers when it comes to visual and animation style. This is a company that’s always ahead of the curve, constantly creating trends in the industry, and I think they achieve that by having friendly creative high-level professionals working in a casual, lively environment. It’s really exciting to be a part of this, even more so when I remember myself browsing their website looking for inspiration years ago, still in Brazil having no idea what would happen to my career in the future. It’s true that I did plan my steps well in advance when I decided to have this work experience in the US, but I’m still surprised to look back and see the way it all happened.
I’m part of a team of animators, using mostly Adobe software such as Photoshop and After Effects. Our job is to give movement and life to the characters and graphics created by the Design team. Of course it was key for me to learn the Animation Fundamentals, but I consider having a Bachelor in Graphic Design as well as the UCLA Extension Certificate a huge asset for me even when I’m not actually designing, since as animators we always try to apply the fundamentals of Design to the frames we create when moving elements around the canvas through time.
As far as challenges, I constantly see myself surrounded by top-notch designers and animators from all over the globe, creating videos for major national and international companies; basically every day I submit my animations to the approval of some of the best creative directors of our industry—which by the way is ever evolving and reinventing itself; so keeping up with all that is a big challenge for me.
Check out this gallery of Daniel’s work: