We had the good fortune of connecting with Ursula Echeverria and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ursula, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
This one is about success. There was one time I was in middle school, at sports class we were doing run races. We were separated into two groups, the regular ones, and the faster ones; you chose which group you want to race, I chose the fastest one. I finished the race but I wasn’t the fastest of the group. The teacher told me: “You should have chosen the slower group, you could have beaten them all up!”. At that moment I felt defeated, but I didn’t agree with him either. When I think about that moment, the only thing that comes to my mind is: I was proving myself that I was able to be in that group and compete with the fastest kids in my grade. If you compare this teacher’s way of thinking with a professional environment: “Compete with the less skilled, so you will shine among them”. is not really fulfilling, you are not pushing your boundaries, and you are not growing. At the end, just comparing yourself with the less skilled doesn’t really make you a better person, better athlete, better artist.

I feel this small deception was a start to keep pushing, because that could be anything in your life: your studies, your work, your artistic path. If you want to be really good one day, you must be able to compete with that level of greatness. You must stand next to that people.
Before studying formally Animation in California, I tried a lot of different ways to get into animation, informal education, academies, separate classes, but none of them were really teaching filmmaking. All ended up in nothing, I couldn’t find anything in Guatemala that professionally teaches you animation, at least not with the level of quality I was looking for my education. That’s why, even with a family, I decided to move and relocate my family to LA to be able to have a degree in animation in the best school possible, CALARTS. Being a mom of 3 children, in the considered “most difficult program at school” mostly because of the heavy workload; I was asked many times If I was sure of it, for many people: my counselor, my family, my close friends. Most of them were afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill my dream without jeopardizing my family, my studies or my role as a mother. Being a full time student and mother of 3 at the same time was truly challenging. My husband visited us constantly, but for visa status he couldn’t live with us. So yes, this experience tested my courage, patience, time management, and my ability to learn and absorb information very fast, but mostly to prioritize. As a family we struggled a lot, but we grew up as well. It wasn’t easy, but we made it work. All good things comes with sacrifices, which makes you value things more.

For me, a “United Family” is being a key for my success. I could have come alone, but will not be the same, and my children would have grown for 4 years without their mama and its possible that our relationship with my husband would have jeopardized. I know what means to have no mom when you need it, mostly if you are a kid. But being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t follow your dreams, or can’t be a professional or stop everything else. I feel if you really want something, you’ll find the way. Even though, was a challenging time for us, it was also fulfilling, and enriching experience, and good things came along with it.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Even though I am a recent graduate, my age and my personal situation helped me stayed focus while some of my younger friends who just came out from high school, still figuring out personal things, living alone for the first time, connecting with other artists, etc. Somehow, I was dealing with the same things but in a different level, being more mature at that time, allowed me deal and understand the situations with more ease. Wasn’t easy, but you learn to do things by doing. Now that I am on my own, working as a freelance artist, being professional and mature with the relationships with my clients is a key. Being on time, having good communication, being honest about the process and times needed, help to build a strong relationship with your clients, which makes you reliable to them. Some times, I had clients that are much older and need time to process and understand things, you must give them what they need. They are not just paying for your art, they are paying for your time, your service. Being able and open to receive critique, sometimes is hard for artist, but is as important as everything else.

I learned to set ground rules from the beginning, meaning how much will you do, in what time frame, for what income, and make it a mutual agreement, and discuss it. Whenever I’ve had a challenging situation, mostly has been due to bad communication or misunderstanding. The best for that is clarify it as soon as possible. In general you must do what you’re hired for. But, sometimes as artists is tricky to identify when it’s a possibility to be proactive and when is not the best time. It also comes with identifying the situations and take the opportunity, because you also want to prove you can do more than what you been told. In general, being a freelance artist is an interesting job, because you not just do the art, but deal with the management, the contract, direct relationship with the client, communication, sometimes you act as a teacher to them explaining the process and things needed. And you have to have the charisma to go through it. Most of it, is identifying the need and work towards it. You are your sales man, your artist, your contract person, your director, etc. Keeps you constantly informed, and open to learn to be able to navigate things that you don’t control. At school you learn about art, but once you’re out you must deal with other things as important as doing the art.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We will go definitely to Disneyland! , on our way we would stop at a Lookout in which birds and squirrels come close to the people. Another place would be Seaworld, or Sixflags. I will definitely take them to Venice beach, Marina del Rey or Santa Monica beach, lots of different activities to do and see. a very nice walk to go by roller skate, bike or just walk.
I for sure will take them to all these: URBAN CAFE they have the best salads ever!, BOBA TIME, the best Thai Tea, In Korea Town, the best restaurants. I also will take them to the best museums in LA, like The Getty, LACMA, National History Museum, The Huntington Museum (best gardens to go to draw), Battleship USS Iowa Museum, among others. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I must credit the school and everything and everyone that came with it. The artistic environment kept me engaged, my friends, the community of support, even the international program that help us fit with this new environment, with this new culture. My teachers, the Character Animation direction; being so open and willing to make this environment the best experience possible, really made a difference. What makes a place: A GOOD PLACE? everyone doing what they are supposed to do. Working from the heart, and doing what you’re passioned about. This really makes a difference with in your environment and the people who is in it.

For the first time ever I felt everyone worked as a community for the good of it. Because sometimes it wasn’t directly to me, but I got greatly benefited from them, some other times where directly to me, and it was amazing.

Website: https://www.ursulaecheverria.art/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ursulaecheverria0/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ursulaecheverria/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ursula.d.contreras

Other: https://vimeo.com/ursulaecheverria

Image Credits
Some of these art development images were done for personal clients.

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