We had the good fortune of connecting with Kai Diaz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kai, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Actually, growing up, I didn’t think I could make a career from being creative. I thought that the salary was the deciding factor of what career choices I had. Not to say that designers or artists can’t be financially successful, but professions such as doctors, lawyers, engineers were a more lucrative choice. As I grew wiser, my perception and definition of success changed. I pursued a career in a creative industry because I knew it would bring me great joy to use my creativity to put food on my table. It also brings me joy when I see the brands that I’ve worked with grow. I love seeing my work out in the wild.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m most proud of taking the leap to be a freelance designer. After years of working in a design agency, I felt confident enough to take a step towards building my own career. Was it easy? Not sure how to answer that as the answer is relative, I guess. What was easy/difficult for me might not be for someone else. Fortunately for me, it worked out pretty organically to start my own freelance business. Was I nervous? Yes I was… but I was also determined. And I feel like that was what got me through my first year of being a freelance designer. I’d say the greatest thing I’ve learned along the way is how to steer the wheel when it comes to the designer/client process. Because I do more than just design and create – I also have multiple team members, projects, and clients. Keeping the client in the loop during the creative process is important and they need to understand why the creative process is going a certain direction. What I want people to know about my story? As cliché as it sounds, I want people to know that with determination and relentless pursuit, you can achieve whatever you want. Also, create your own definition of success. When your perspective changes, your world changes with it.
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?
If my best friend was visiting San Diego, I’d take them through a day in my life. I’m so grateful for everything I get to experience here in my life that I feel like my day to day, regardless of how mundane it may be to someone else, it is all things that keep me in a grateful state of mind. I love morning coffee rituals. So I’d make us a couple Cortados here at my home. Then walk over to the beach for a surf check. Catch a few waves, then head over to downtown Encinitas to find something to eat. Then we’d walk over for a moment of zen at the Encinitas Botanical Garden. At some point in the week, we’d go for a martial arts training session at Surfight BJJ or Studio 540. Starting off with some Muay Thai and finishing with some Jiu-Jitsu. I have a few motor bikes that I love to ride, so at some point during the visit, motor bike rides along the 101 is a must. Other than working on my business, that is my day to day.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a big shout out to Ricardo Camargo and everyone I’ve had the opportunity to work with at Vapor Studio [design agency]. Without Ricardo and Vapor Studio, I would not be where I am at today.
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