We had the good fortune of connecting with Riza Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Riza, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
I have a lot of favorites and one is by Ernest Hemingway. The quotes is “You must be prepared to work always without applause.”. It reminds me that from the start, I need to create for myself. Nowadays, I think it’s easy to get caught up in what is popular or trending and create from there. Lately, it’s been more difficult exploring and enjoying the process for myself and I’m working on getting back to that. I think this quote is a good reminder of what propelled me into this field, which was having fun and creating for my enjoyment.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m most proud of a series I did of kids in Halloween costumes. They were done for Maketober, which stems from Inktober where you draw everyday in October for a month. Instead of drawing, I made a kid in a costume out of paper for 31 days. This one was a personal project and it brought me a lot of joy making them. After they were done, a lot of my co-workers bought them off of me and it was a lot of fun seeing how much they liked them. I also really loved hearing which ones were their favorites. The whole process from start to finish was so much fun.
I’m currently a graphic designer and illustrate on the side. I don’t think my path was particularly easy, but I feel very lucky with how it went. Out of school, I applied for a fellowship at Chronicle Books (I’ve loved them for forever). I was turned down from the fellowship, but about a week later, I got an email asking if I’d like to intern for them. I interned for a month and with some luck and good timing, I was hired into the Design Assistant role since that person was leaving. I remained a Design Assistant, but was able to take on design projects which lead me to where I am today.
Through all of this, I learned that you need to prove that you are able to do the work and if no one is hiring you to do it yet, it’s probably because you aren’t showcasing that skill yet!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m still a bit new to the area and have been here for a little over a year so I’m not that well versed yet, but if I had a friend visit, we would start with breakfast at Cafe de Olla in Burbank. Along with breakfast, I’d order their cafe de olla, which is a Mexican coffee and I always end up drinking five cups of it (it comes with refills). After that we’d go on a hike somewhere in the Burbank mountains. For lunch, we’d driver over to India Sweets & Spices in Atwater and order some pav bhaji. If it’s still open, we’d then go to the The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens and hang out and walk around until dinner (if I could walk in some nature all the time, I would). To end the day, we would head over to Van Nuys and eat vegan mexican food at El Cocincero.
But if this were in the Bay Area, where I’m originally from, I’d take them to have breakfast at Kantine where they serve Scandinavian food, or to Senor Sisig, a Filipino fusion restaurant, and get a tocilog burrito. Afterwards we would go to the botanical gardens at UC Berkeley or a hike. For lunch we’d go to Burma Superstar for laphet thoke, the tea leaf salad, noodles, and rice dishes. After that we would go to Pegasus books and any other local bookstore around. Then for dinner, we’d head to Concord/Clayton and order food from Mai Thai 2, which has such good Thai food.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to thank and shoutout Lydia Ortiz, my design Ate (older sister). When we met, we got along right away and she’s been my design mentor ever since. She’s such a thoughtful and hardworking illustrator, designer, art director (and more) and I’m grateful every day for how much time and effort she’s given to me to help me on my career path.