We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Muñoz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniel, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
When it comes to my career, I have three core habits: 1. Pursuing happiness through questions, 2. Being a student of life, and 3. Falling in love with personal growth over work. I put a great amount of attention towards what it means for me to be happy with what I do. Pursuing my happiness through questions is one core habit that keeps me succeeding in what I do. I’m constantly asking myself if what I’m doing is headed in a direction that can continuously accomplish and grow my happiness. When making decisions with my career whether it be work or life related, I’ll tend to ask myself questions to guide me in the right direction. These are some questions I usually ask myself: “Am I going to enjoy this project or working at this company? Will this decision lead me to a foreseeable direction towards my goal or interest? Do I NEED the money? Would this decision delay or direct me away from my goal or interest?” Asking myself these kinds of questions help me choose a path that is only focused on my interest and what I believe will make me happy in the long run. Granted, sometimes making these decisions are difficult to judge whether it will guide you towards the happiness you look for in your career. At times it could be the opposite of what you expected. This is why my second habit is about experiencing and learning from life. As an animator I feel my second habit is a requirement: be a student of life. Experience the world and learn from it. I once imagined myself as an aspiring 3D animator looking to work in films. Until one special weekend where I entered a game jam called Ludum Dare with my good friend Sebastian Alvarez. This was the first time entering a comp like this. We devised a game where mobster mice would hold you (a rat) hostage in order to collect cheese for them. My designs and animations were hideous! However, the joy that I experienced creating these hideous 2D animations made me realize that 3D animation was a past passion and that I wanted to pursue 2D animation wholeheartedly. This experience taught me about what I wanted to succeed in. It showed me how important it was to be humble and just learn from everything. Learn from other artists, practice copying the masters, share my work, ask for feedback, and be willing to experience. All of these things helped me better my craft and allowed me to focus on how I wanted to succeed. I didn’t only focus on my art when it came to being a student. I was lucky enough to have traveled in my early 20’s to many countries and learn about other cultures, which expanded my understanding about myself and what I want to be creating. It also became a source of inspiration for me. You can’t be a student of life if you don’t experience people. Collaborate, trust people, learn from your friends, search for other talented artists, see what is trending, learn about studios, agencies, and events related to your interest. Just live and learn because there are so many fun surprises to experience and it will help you solidify a decent path to your goal! Now, this third habit made me realize how much better my work could be when my work has more minds behind it other than just mine. This is something many new artists struggle with, and that is getting too attached to their work and receiving criticism. My third habit is about falling in love with your growth over your work. My growth brings me more joy than the work I create. It’s proof that you’re progressing. I enjoy looking at my past work because it reminds me of how strong my goals were to get better. I can see how far I’ve come because of it. I enjoy social platforms for this reason. I don’t delete posts I make on Instagram as a reminder to never forget where I started. Every once and awhile, I make sure to quantify my progress. Is the work that I’m doing now better than what I’ve done 2, 3, even 4 years ago? I encourage artists to build a habit of posting their finished work and even roughs on a social platform to ensure that they are seeing and feeling their own growth. Sometimes it’ll even remind you that you haven’t been creating as much anymore and that could act as a motivator as well. I make sure I’m always open to feedback. The ideas of others stem more possibilities in your own work. So, enjoy creating with a collective mind behind your work. There’s too much in life to not learn how to enjoy it.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a 2D Cel Animator and Motion Graphics Artist. I don’t know if my animations have a quality that sets me apart from others but rather, I feel it’s more the experience of collaborating with me or at least I would like to believe so. If not, then I’m just another 2D animator and that’s better than not being one either way. My path to where I am now was not as difficult as I would have imagined. It did however require a great amount of dedicated time and self-teachings. When I decided to make a transition to 2D frame-by-frame animation I was already out of school and was working in motion graphics. I studied 3D animation so transitioning to 2D frame-by-frame was a lot to learn but I already had an idea of the principles of animation. I spent about 3 to 4 years learning & practicing on my own and slowly I started trying to implement what I’ve learned into my work wherever I saw the opportunity. I made sure to never stop practicing. I started this transition in 2013 and by 2017 I was animating frame-by-frame in most of my projects. I made sure to market myself as a 2D animator over a motion graphics artist because that was my primary interest. After all that training I made the jump from Miami to California searching to expand my skills and get the experience I craved for. I continue to do that with as much enjoyment as I began with. I would like people to feel encouraged to practice, learn and take chances so that the artist within can feel the joy it seeks.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m very grateful for the people in my life. My family has always believed in me and supported all my goals. I’ve also been lucky to have wonderful friends who’ve encouraged and pushed for my growth. They all know who they are. However, I would like to dedicate my shoutout to Diana Arrambide. Diana was my storyboard artist professor who offered me my first freelancing job with a team she put together. She was one of those avid dreamers whose ambitions were far beyond the reaches of the world. Truly a person who believed in others more than they believed in themselves. She made the day to day feel like an adventure filled with laughter and happiness. My journey with her and the team taught me a lesson I’ll never forget; they taught me that the enjoyment of creating is not just about the finished design but the journey to reach the end result. Diana gave me the opportunity to experience life in a way I could have never imagined for myself and for that I will forever be grateful. She will forever be a mentor, and a role model for who I aspire to be.