Following Your Passion takes guts.

It’s been almost two and half years since I decided to commit to getting this animated film project done. To follow it, to see where it would take me and to see how many people would be receptive to this despite of the unknown. I am an entrepreneur, an artist, a risk taker, and I live in the moment.

I started on this journey in 2012, I was 30, it was summer in New York City. I had moved from San Francisco to New York in 2011. It took me 4 years to finish grad school because the last two years I decided that I wanted to do school online and still have a life. And let’s not forget that I am a single mother, raising a kid. It ended up being the best decision I ever made. I was free. I worked a 9–5 graphic design job in Manhattan with a great company, then I would go home and study, and work on my grad school thesis project.

In the midst of having a life, I could breathe. I discovered this new project called “Northstar Warrior”. I am a deeply spiritual person and as a kid growing up in California, I had read many books about Native American spirituality and one particular book I read about the “Trail of Tears” that deeply moved me. I read so many books about the connection to spirit and how things and nature had spirits. I grew up in a Filipino Catholic family, yet I was free to learn and explore my heart’s desire. Curiosity never killed my spirit. Spirituality was the base foundation, but it became so much more.

Early sketches from 2012.

I left NYC at the end of 2013 and moved to LA, graduated with an MFA in Visual Development/2D Animation. I thought that for a long time my dream was to be an artist at Disney. But I ended up having such an even better and enriching experience freelancing in LA with different agencies and companies. I literally went and freelanced on site with so many companies all over LA! I freelanced with Skechers in Manhattan Beach designing characters for an animated commercial, contracted at Hasbro Studios in Burbank as a product designer for Disney dolls, did some character illustration work for William Morris Endeavor, freelanced at Fuhu Inc, and a bunch of various jobs.

This period of my life from 2013 -2016 felt like I had no stability. Part of me always felt I had no structure, that I wasn’t building my financial future because I would freelance from company to company, from job to job, project to project with no clear destination. But it made me resilient, toughened me up and opened my mind up to learn to be a sustainable artist in an ever changing landscape. Nothing is guaranteed. It forced me to get creative with how to make money, it made me network more and it made me really figure out how to get clients. I had shifted, it wasn’t enough to just get a full time job anymore. I wanted so so much more out of life. I ended up working with amazing clients who valued my skills and talents. I had created the reality and the life I wanted. Who says you can’t make it out on your own?

And then I got into teaching at the Academy of Art University of San Francisco in fall of 2016 and it gave even more meaning to my life. I love working with students, all the of the experiences I had during my time freelancing all over the place gave me such a valuable perspective that I could talk to my classes about.

To get to the point, I worked on my passion project on the side with a team remotely. Its halfway done but it still needs work and I am committed to finishing it and seeing it through. I’ve worked on this project all over coffee shops in LA and San Francisco, at home till all hours of the night, wondering why this one thing consumed so much of my time and energy. Why? There were so many times I almost dropped it and put it away a few months at a time.

But still it called out to me.

Because it was so much more than me. Because it started growing an energy and magic of its own. And then I had the biggest epiphany, that it wasn’t about me. It was bringing a message out into the world, yes told through a playful medium as animation, yet there was a deeper truth. This story stands for empowering little girls, young women who may have poor self-esteem, lack confidence, or don’t believe in themselves. I started seeing that this project could bring people together, to affect change, to inspire girls to be anything they want to be.

I’ve rambled, didn’t mean to tell you about my personal story yet this story is so personal. Check out our video below and if you feel inspired to share it to others and online, I would be so grateful! Also, check out our Indiegogo Campaign for more info.

Campaign video on Indiegogo!
We’re Stronger Together — Oracle Card Sketch by our Animator Liliana Vazquez Song.

We’re also doing a collaborative oracle card deck set, we’ve opened this project up to artists who’d want to contribute, check out our studio blog for more information

Follow Diane’s art on Instagram

Follow your gut, follow your passion. You never know where it will lead you.