Instagram Content Creation

This weekend as I was looking for inspiration I decided to play around with some pictures I found on Pinterest. I’m trying to keep it minimal by adding some elements of what my new brand will be. [ Software I used, Photoshop. ]

Hope you like them 🙂


Besos, Erika.



Evolving as a Designer; The importance of learning new skills.

This week I’ve made the decision to be more consistent with my content here. This year I want to become an entrepreneur; you when they say follow your gut. That’s what mine is telling me right now, Start your own company. I’ve already began looking for potential designers that can join my team (if you’re interested I’m an email away 🙂 Right now I’m a team of 1 haha, but hey what matters is taking that first step and not stopping.

My career and evolving as a designer

I graduated with an associates degree in Digital Art & Design. To be honest I wasn’t the greatest at school, but I did good on all my art classes. I landed my first job 6 months after graduation. Back in the myspace days I loved coding and styling my profile themes, making them extra cool for my friends to see. I took 1 website development class during college, and this helped me in the creation of my portfolio after graduation. With my portfolio up and a few printed flyers and wallpapers I went on my first job interview as an intern for a fashion E-commerce site, I was hired. I was so excited because I had no idea such a job existed; my job was to create weekly banners for the store’s homepage, newsletters, and infographics, It was the coolest job in the world. They would give me the images from their photoshoots and I would come up with a campaign, It wasn’t even a job I was loving it. With every paycheck I thought it was a dream that I was able to buy the things I liked by working as a designer. It was amazing!


Credit : Timo Kuilder

After a year I moved on to doing graphic design for a non-profit organization, nothing big. My third job was with another e-commerce store, I was able to develop my skills, and do my first project as a web designer. After this project I was hired by the second floor agency as a web/app designer. Up until this point I had always worked with the fashion industry which I knew I liked. But it was up until this point that I came across projects  related to the corporate world. Right from the start I knew it wasn’t my thing, I didn’t hate it but It was just plain, no excitement. Also my style was way ahead of the corporate style. After 6 months I quit my job to become a freelancer….

Learning how to code on my own

During this period of 6 months as a freelancer, I had no clue what I was doing. There were weeks where I would just sleep it off and do nothing. I had no clients or contacts, no real projects to be involved on. I knew I had to work on redesigning my portfolio at some point so I can apply to jobs since this freelancer move didn’t work. (I was a lot younger and I had no clue what it had to be to be a real freelancer.)

I worked 6 months coding my website from scratch. No pre-made themes, it was my own creation, and I was proud of it. After a month I landed a job at a lifestyle creative agency, I was able to rebrand the agency, work on website projects, and create my first billboard.

More skills = More money

As I look back, I realize how I’ve been able to expand my skills and increment my income. I began as a graphic designer, to becoming a web designer, website developer, to and now art director. You have to evolve with time, you can’t settle with one skill, specially now that it is so accessible to learn things for FREE ( I don’t work for money, I’m not rich but money isn’t my drive, creativity and art are my passion and I enjoy doing it.


New Goals/Skills

My new goal is to learn instagram’s algorithm , which I feel is very important at this point in time. Everything revolves around social media, and as a creative person, you have to stay up to date with design trends, and how to combine these as as business plan for yourself and clients.

What skills have you learned overtime or would like to learn? 🙂

Besos, Erika.


Entreprenourship, procrastination + fear of exposure

Today I find myself looking for ways to start my own business. But I keep getting in my way, and by this I mean, whenever I finally sit behind my computer I find something else to do, it can be the silliest thing like cleaning out the bookcase which I haven’t touched in years. Truth is I’m avoiding all responsibility of creating something of my own.

I’m living the 9-5 life… which was never part of my plan, I know my potential and what I’m capable of, if I can only find motivation and learn a way to avoid all these fears.

I like to think I’m a very private person… And part of this might involve being more exposed to the world and facing the fear of what people think. I’m not afraid of failure, but I’m afraid of exposure… I’m afraid of looking like a fool… Some if this is related to my current job, It has made me somewhat insecure. Insecure about my own writing abilities, or coming up with cool titles or headlines. Shit, I’m not a writer but I think I can come up with good ideas. I used to do all the campaing headline creation at my very first job, and they loved it. How come I can’t write one good thing now?  I’m a freelancer I’m able to work directly with clients and execute a great project, how come now I feel like I need someones approval before submitting anything? Wondering if it’s good enough….

Anyone out there in the same situation?

New York City Streets

Below are some cool iPhone shots I was able to capture in the past couple of months. There’s always something cool to shoot in these New York City streets. Lately I’ve been thinking about creating a separate page to share more photography, maybe I will do so in the upcoming months, stay tuned… 🙂

Lifestyle Photoshoot
Ironwoodland – The Highline
WTC – Wallstreet
Empire State Building – The Highline View – New York City



#tbt Gentle Monster X Monocle Order Digital Campaign

This campaign was created during summer ’15 while I was working with a retail store. My inspiration for this project was attitude with a badass combination. The picture alone made the whole campaign; Just playing with small elements and neon colors made the message pop-up even more. The trend at that moment were geometric elements. I’m still all about that trend but more about emphasizing letters over elements.



gentle-monster-newlseter 2

gentle monster digital campaign - erika otavalo

The Muse: Herb Lubalin

Herb Lubalin is and always will be my #1 inspiration. I was first introduced to his work at a college course. We were assigned to do a presentation based on your favorite designer. After some research his work just stunned me, the use of typography and the bold style. Till this day his work remains timeless and hard to top.

Even thought I wasn’t able to appreciate his work while he was still alive, I was able to purchase his entire magazine collection, Avant Garde. It gave me a better understanding of his work direction which continues to be my everyday inspiration.


Who is your favorite designer?

Life of a Graphic Designer after graduation.

Finding the right opportunities after college can be challenging, companies usually look for experience and give you a salary based on that. But what if you have no experience? Here’s what I did right after graduation. Now, I’m not an expert nor is this the way to do things but It worked for me.

1. choose your design field

There are many fields of design where you might want to be a part of. Now, don’t base this decision just on income. Follow your instincts, follow your gut; What do you like to do? What are you truly good at? Yes, you are a designer but what do you enjoy creating.

You can be part of the fashion editorial world, this meaning you will mainly work in the fashion industry. You can land a job at a retail store for women/men, or eyewear brand. Anything related to fashion like magazines, E-commerce stores… you name it. If this sounds fun to you then I suggest this is the direction to follow.


That is just one example of many, you can be part of the corporate world, sports, pharmaceutical or any other of the many options out there. Just be sure to pick a field where you enjoy working on, because that is where you will spend most of your time.

2. build your portfolio

You can use some of the creative work you made during college, but make sure its portfolio worthy. Ask yourself; Does this represent my work?, my style?, does this give me credibility, and when they see it… What impact will this have on them? Keep in mind that the final outcome of your portfolio is gonna determine the worth of your work, this means them wanting to work with you and your salary rate. Want to make more money? Make sure that you’re selling is worth the rate.

Showgirl 2011
screenshot of my first banner ever on a E-commerce site, 2012

Don’t find any cool work from school? Freelance for sometime before looking for a full-time position, you might want to do it for FREE. Your goal here is to make sure you have  quality pieces to feature on your website. While you’re at it, you might find that the 9-5 life is not for you, and you can continue in the world of freelancers.

& one final tip; Pick the right domain for your portfolio, it should be short, easy to remember and type. The content of your site will keep your audience engaged therefore make sure it is easy to navigate and interesting to look at.

3. put your resume together

What to write on your resume if you don’t have any experience yet?.

Some options are:

  • Highlight some of the freelance projects you’ve been involved after graduation.
  • Write down your skills.
  • List the software you’re proficient at. (You can still list Microsoft WORD or Microsoft EXCEL; this can give you a higher chance of getting hired, because not only do you know about design apps but you have knowledge of outside software that might be a contribution to their company at some point.)
  • Include education and any important academic recognitions.
  • Other languages you speak.

Hope some of these tips can help you get started in the graphic design field. I wish you the best of luck and I’m going to leave you one of my favorite that inspire me everyday.

quote credit: pinterest

Let me know how that goes :)!