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Student Spotlight: Samara Zabala

May 26th, 2015 |

One On One With Graphic Design Student Samara Zabala

Student Spotlight: Samara Zabala

Graphic design student, Samara Zabala, has been studying art and design on her own well before she started her education at Platt. Her passion for media arts is very inspiring and we jumped at the chance to feature her creations while she is still working on her degree. We know she will do big things and we are happy to have her as part of our Platt family. If you would like to learn about where she finds inspiration, and what tools of the trade are her favorites you’ve come to the right place!

Natasha: You’ve been studying Graphic Design at Platt for almost a year now. What would you say has been your favorite class so far?

Samara: I would say it’s a tie between Photoshop and Illustrator. A lot of the things I learned were new to me, I only knew how to use like 5 tools. Learning that there were so many helpful features I didn’t know about was enlightening for me, plus I discovered that I have pretty good composting skills.

I loved the Illustrator class too because it made me love vectors. I used to dislike vectors at first and vowed to not use it if possible but I learned it wasn’t so bad and I just needed to get used to it. Taking the Illustrator class made me confident working with vectors. Both classes brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me explore my versatility in digital design and illustration.

Pepsi Package Design by Samara Zabala

Natasha: Before attending Platt you already had a strong background in art and design. When was the moment you knew it was what you wanted to pursue as a career?

Samara: Originally, Graphic Design wasn’t my planned career. I wanted to pursue a degree in Computer Science and specialize in Web Development. I had to work on a Master’s Degree to get there and it was too long to get to my goal. I started college very young so it was all overwhelming for me and it didn’t work out. I realized the career path I took maybe was not for me so I decided to shift.

I still wanted to do Web, but this time I wanted to approach it where I knew I could do well. I want to work on Web Design and Platt College was a door to that opportunity. At first, it was unclear to me if I really wanted to go with Design, but taking my first classes back in Term 1 was when I realized that design is something I’m actually truly passionate about. Being here confirmed how much I love Graphic Design. I’m now happy with what I do and I want to become successful at it.

Iron Man Drawing by Samara Zabala

Natasha: What is your dream job?

Samara: My dream job is to develop websites one day. I would love to work for Disney Studios or Google. I also want to do book covers, product labels, and music albums. My hope is that one day, one of my works will become influential and iconic. I wish to someday work on designing Bruno Mars or Beyonce’s albums in the future too, that would be my greatest achievement.

Beyonce Vector Portrait by Sam Zabala

Natasha: Many of your pieces focus on pop culture icons and characters. What would you say inspires your artwork the most? And what is your favorite piece you have created?

Samara: There are so many things that inspire me and I can’t enumerate them all. Music is one big thing. I’m also a musician, so like my design skills, I relate my music abilities to everything I do. It helps me get that sense of harmony and rhythm I want to visualize with my design. I make it a goal to make my design look like an equivalent of a perfect musical arrangement. I’m calm and motivated when I listen to music or hum a tune sometimes while I work. I don’t know why or how but it really works for me.

Being surrounded by fellow artists also inspire me. I come from a family of multi-talented people and a lot of my relatives are really good with drawing. I didn’t know how to draw when I was a kid, but my younger and older cousins were already good at it, so I wanted to learn how to draw too. I share the same passion for expression and skill development as my family and it really motivates me to improve my skills.

Samara Zabala Surreal Self Portrait

I also have friends from different places in the world who post their work online. I love looking at their works, appreciating them, and learning from their techniques. It’s the same with my classmates here at Platt College. A lot of them are very talented artists. I see many people in my classes doing amazing work and I admire them. Being surrounded by awesome and hard working designers inspire me to do my best too!

Natasha: What is your favorite piece you have created?

Samara: For my favorite work, it is also my most hated one hahaha… my illustration of Asami Sato from The Legend of Korra in a dress inspired from Ezra Santos’ design. It’s a project I worked on before I started at Platt College. I hate it because it was the most difficult project to work on. But it’s also my favorite because I really appreciate the hard work I went through creating it. It was difficult making it look decent without pro tools.

I came up with the idea while I was in a grocery store and I saw an issue of Metro Magazine from May 2014 featuring Kim Chiu. She wore this gown made from interesting material that made it have a cool looking texture. Looking at it, I thought “Wow, this dress is so beautiful and it would be extremely difficult to draw something like that… especially if I do it in Microsoft Paint… with a mouse… I’d hate to punish myself by trying to do that… I’m gonna do it!” and then everything somewhat went downhill after that.

Asami Sato in Ezra Santos Dress by Samara Zabala

I illustrated it in MS Paint with just the the curve and fill tools using a mouse and it took me more than 72 hours to complete. It was crazy and there was a lot of frustration and screaming (specifically from me) during the process but it was very worth it haha.

Natasha: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to design?

Samara: The biggest challenge for me would be typography and layout. I learned these things for the first time here in school so it’s a new concept for me. I can manage working on it in my design work but I still have so much to learn and I’m really aiming to become more professional with it.

Starfire Illustration by Samara Zabala

Natasha: What are your must have design tools?

Samara: Adobe Suite is the absolute first thing, primarily Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. The newer the version, the better to catch up with the latest in the software development. Sketchbook Pro has a really cool collection of brushes to make illustrations as authentic as possible, as if drawn or painted on paper. There’s also a perspective tool feature which is really helpful for a lot of projects. A warning though, the software gets glitchy on a lot of other things sometimes so I use it with Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to back me up in case the software falls back.

Mulan Illustration by Samara Zabala

GIMP and Paint Tool SAI are the best freewares for raster illustration and graphics. I feel like they’re the closest you can get to Photoshop for free.

For iOS devices I like using Sketchbook Pro for rasters, and Sketchbook Ink for vectors.

The best hardware would be a Wacom Tablet. I use the small Bamboo model right now and it makes digital illustration so much easier. I’d love to have an Intuos Pro Medium one day for a bigger working space.

Natasha: Any advice for illustrators who may be just starting out?

Samara: My advice is that the skills you want are something you have to work hard for. It’s not something you’re born with. You also don’t need to compare yourself to other people because everyone has different skills and paces. You may not be the best illustrator or designer right now but that doesn’t mean it stops there, you’ll get better and better with more practice. It takes time to turn mediocre stick figures into a majestic Mona Lisa.

Mixed media by Samara Zabala

Learning and developing your skills never stop because there will always be room for improvement. Love what you do. Stay humble, keep developing your skills and hold on to that passion.

Natasha: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Samara: There’s a few blogs I know that have good references and resources for illustration and graphic design, I’d recommend checking them out…
http://art-resources.tumblr.com/ (illustrations and digital graphics softwares)
http://sams-resources.tumblr.com/ (more art resources)
clientsfromhell.net (anonymous real life stories of “client horror stories”)
and also a Creative Bloq article with more design blogs for design inspiration.
http://www.creativebloq.com/inspiration/best-tumblr-blogs-for-designers-1233429

If you enjoyed this blog and Samara’s creations be sure to check out her Behance Portfolio!

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About the Author:

Social Media Coordinator, Educational Representative and Platt College VFX Alumni. Likes bunnies, video games, cooking and taking frequent trips to Disneyland.

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