Today I’m celebrating six years of awakening my cartoon design skills.
I’ve loved drawing ever since I can remember. At primary school in Mexico I spent hours doodling while the teacher spoke. I was good at catching the main concepts in class and then wonder off into my own world of cartoon characters. Little did I know those skills would become professional assets in the future.
At that age, cartoon drawing was a good way to get attention and be “popular” by copying the characters of Garfield or the Pink Panther. Later on, as I grew into a teenager some other passions stroke my heart and brain: story-telling, photography, and filmmaking.
I never took my cartoon drawing skills “seriously” until I was in college and met Ricardo Arnaiz. He was setting up an animated cartoon studio startup in Puebla. Happy days! I started doing script-writing for a TV series pilot and drawing animation outlines. In those days, I learned a lot from him and my colleagues. But sadly that company didn’t really take off. Disappointed, I turned back into academia and finished my degree in communication sciences with a thesis on animated cartoon TV-shows in Mexico. Ricardo moved on and continued stubbornly to create a new company. He is now a great example of creativity and tenacity in Mexico, having directed several animated movies by now with his company Animex Studios.
I decided I wanted to do movies too. But “real” movies, far from the Hollywood style. I wanted to do “art movies”. So I put aside my cartoon drawing skills and I focused on moving to France to study cinema and become a filmmaker of “serious movies”. While preparing, I worked as a freelance filmmaker with production companies in Puebla like Argos Sureste and Seta Producciones. It was again a time of huge learning. One of the highlights of this time was the production of the political-science fiction short-film No Estamos Solos directed by Melchor Morán and that I helped to write, story-board, produce and edit. We got a couple of awards in international festivals. I felt I was ready to move on.
But life doesn’t happen exactly as you plan. Making a life in a foreign country that is not really asking you to come is not easy. I applied twice to the National filmmaking school La Femis and twice I got to the finals to be refused afterwards. I decided I was going to stay anyways. So I went back to University. The Université de Paris 3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle accepted me into a Masters degree on cinema studies. I was studying again, and working as a freelance photographer and tourist guide for Spanish speaking backpackers.
And then something happened that changed my life and destiny again. I started collaborating with a startup Neurolinguistic Programming training company. Shortly after I joined the venture, became a trainer, coach and consultant. For four years I was part of PSI Communications. And this is when my drawing skills became handy again.
My business partner convinced me that my cartoon skills were unique to produce original handouts and pedagogic materials. The cartoons I was drawing seemed to me stiff and dry. But people seemed to like them. So I did more. That was six years ago.
These are a couple of examples. The very first handout drawing I produced in 2008 and the very last one in 2011.
Four years later I decided to move on as an independent coach, trainer and consultant. I developed a new brand Akrobatas, provider of creative empowerment tools.
However, I was in true urgency for getting cash-flow. A friend of mine told me “look, there is a job for a bilingual cartoon artist, you like to do that, don’t you?” And that’s how I met Jean-Eric Branaa in Université de Paris 2 Pantheon-Assas. For one academic year I drew cartoons for The Assas Post, their weekly publication. And we continued, producing two books together: English Law Made Simple, and American Government Made Simple.
Today I combine my coaching activity with illustration and cartoon design. After those two books, I have now started two others. I’m also doing character design, illustrations for public speakers, articles, and visual facilitation for conferences.
This is an example of my work as a visual facilitator for the first European Citizens Summit in Brussels 2013.
I publish every month in my Akrobatas Stories blog an article from my coaching experience and I produce my own cartoon illustrations. My work has become colorful and much more dynamic. And I’m celebrating this “coming back to my roots” with the publishing of my website antoons.net
In my journey I’ve grown up, I’ve changed, I’ve stumbled, I’ve cried out of frustration, and I’ve also enjoyed life, creativity and adventure.
Today I celebrate that as an adult I am becoming more like the child I used to be.