Meet Martha Garcia of Minds Unfold in San Fernando Valley

SOURCE: http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-martha-garcia-minds-unfold-san-fernando-valley-chatsworth/

Today we’d like to introduce you to Martha Garcia.

Martha, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started in the early part of the 2000’s working for local artists and small businesses in LA creating websites, banners, and flyers. My partner at the time was a major entrepreneurial influence during this particular early web era when so many people were hustling and bustling getting into the web technologies, through both self-taught coding and CS degree paths. It was really interesting to witness the way people built their micro businesses from the ground up just through gaining knowledge and experience online. It helped me get my bearings to network with so many people like this and get to know the more industrious side of the art scene.

At the time, I’d also been traveling between San Francisco and LA doing modeling jobs where I’d then meet photographers, set designers, and agencies who needed creative services themselves and I’d throw myself into these projects enthusiastically. I then met a really wonderful mentor, Sean McCall, who graciously allowed me to apprentice for him for several years. He taught me a lot about photography and studio management while I honed my illustration and design skills helping in the front office of his studio. This was where I learned most of my professional skills and what motivated me to push ahead in this career path; even going home after work and cranking out projects in the middle of the night just to improve my personal work. It ended up being a habit I still haven’t let go of.

Today, I’m Creative Director for an absolutely wonderful company, Flashing Blinky Lights. My bosses have, over the years, given me the opportunity to really spread my wings and help shape the company’s identity and put together a really great Art Dept. where the magic happens. I’ve managed to build some valuable relationships with some of the independents in the company where we work on projects together.

As Minds Unfold, I’m part of a collaboration of other freelancers who work together on projects nationally. Currently, I’m partnering with Holler & Associates to form a new development company for larger scale clients.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s definitely not been a smooth road, but I’d have to say that today, it’s not as tough as the early years. I’ve experienced the gamut of impediments to success that you’d imagine a 5’1″ Hispanic female would encounter. The most visible are the gender related ones, where either blatant harassment or subtly offensive undertones dominate conversations.

The worst example was when I traveled to a client’s office for logo revisions and every other request was met with sexual innuendos…he was at least 20 years older and it mortified me. I had to completely stop the job and exit the building just to feel safe.

Other struggles are sometimes hard to identify or call out, most of these end up being related to race, looks, even culture. I’ve found myself sometimes speaking English with someone, but not at all communicating in the same language. These language/cultural barriers are, I feel, not acknowledged enough to be able to overcome and build better bridges with people.

For the most part, I try to stay positive and proactive. I’ve gotten very good at letting go of stigmas, even if they’re beyond my control. I make it a prerogative to not let things like that affect me internally so that I can project that strength externally.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Minds Unfold – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m a Graphic Designer, Photographer, Illustrator, and Front-End Developer. I can be a one-woman show for most of my clients/projects and I try to stay on top of those four fields consistently. This is what I’m most proud of; being that one-woman show. If I have a need for back-end development, copywriting, videography, whatever, I have my network of other freelancers to call upon and they have me for their needs. Teamwork!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Looking to the future, I intend to have a more solid place within the design community where my current network of partners is stronger, larger, and more efficient. I’ve become much more attuned to the needs of my peers and new designers coming into the industry, that being able to share my knowledge and expertise on how to develop systems and tools in the workplace is something valuable that can be shared. Just as my mentors helped shape me, I know its part of my responsibility to help shape the next generation of creatives.

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