We had the good fortune of connecting with Jorge Naranjo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jorge, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
It’s a longtime dream. In taking inventory of my career, the thought of pursuing a life in design and having my own studio is at the core of it all. And now that I’ve embarked on this new path the idea has been the fuel behind all my efforts. After nearly 20 years in the graphic design industry – experiencing economic ups and downturns, being apart of small in-house marketing jobs to large corporate brand gigs (and a brief stint in the mid-2000’s of living the studio dream with a few partners) – the goal and the passion to become independent and to create a space where I can thrive, while practicing the craft I love remains. NittyGritty emerged from that same passion. Its fundamental pillars were envisioned to be antithetical to the soul-crushing realities of the corporate grind: 1. Do fulfilling work 2. Do no harm 3. Work with minority and misrepresented groups in our communities and 4. Don’t work with assholes.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m most comfortable describing myself as a Graphic Designer that can draw. It tends to, at very minimum, colorize what it is I do or ideally it’s a conversation starter. The work I do and that I love is Graphic Design, of course, but it’s just the foundation to express my love for illustration, character development, animation, branding, exploring multiple techniques, and at times showcasing my Mexican roots. As a cross-border/dual citizen of San Diego and Tijuana – with generations of family on both sides of our border, attended schools on both sides, friends on both sides, lived on both sides, worked on both sides – it gives me a perspective that can sometimes be complicated to relate to colleagues or employers. The novelty fades quick and can even cause discomfort or prejudice. The journey hasn’t always been easy, and the ceiling can sometimes be short, but the positives have always outdone the negatives. I’ve made great friends and allies along the way. In recent years, I had the chance to work for a big brand where my perspective was useful, where I was challenged, and where I produced some of the work I’m most proud of in branding and illustration. My involvement with San Diego AIGA, as a board member and Director of Diversity + Inclusion, has also been a great source of pride. It has offered an opportunity to lean on our local chapter to continue the community work that is also a pillar of NittyGritty.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Mmmmm…. for great Asian food go to Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa. You will always find what you crave there. Awesome ice cream spots too! For tasty beer try Duck Foot up in Miramar. Or… an area that’s up and coming, and that I love to visit and work from is 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista. It’s complete with awesome new cafes, breweries, tap rooms, and mom and pop shops for your Quinceañera dress needs. For tacos, try Barrio Logan and if you are adventurous enough we can go to TJ and get the real thing.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A great person and a true catalyst and inspiration for me was Professor Candice Lopez from San Diego City College. Her gentle tone and guidance kept me on the path. My mentor and professor of Design History, Mr. David Conover, whose cryptic advice keeps me humble. I’m eternally grateful to the man. A legend in design and a giant influence to me is Paul Rand. His principles of simplicity, memorability, harmony and repetition of elements have remained golden rules in my process. My great friend, Co-founder/Managing Partner, and Lil’ Big Boss, Kamille Franchomme. We get s&*t done! All the artists, food, tequilas and mezcales from Mexico! A book that has been earth shattering – and a sincere recommendation to my colleagues – is Ruined by Design by Mr. Mike Monteiro. Hope to meet and chat with Mike one day. Dude, I thought I was the only one out there! To Mel and Ian for the laughs, the cries, and all their support that has allowed me to pursue my dream.

Website: www.nittygrittybrands.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nittygritty.brands/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/naranjojorge/
Other: Personal IG: www.instagram.com/naranjojorge/ Quetzal Kidz Art Project: www.instagram.com/quetzalkidz/

Image Credits
Moises Galvan

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.