CMIR and what I have learned at UF


I was very fortunate to be able to transfer to the University of Florida when I saw the Journalism degree I was getting at Florida Gulf Coast University would not let me match up with the competition. Throughout my time here the College has made huge improvements. All along it has been regarded as one of the best Journalism schools in the country, but something that deserves more mention is that even with that title, the school has not become complacent. It still makes vast improvements to the overall education of students, keeping up with the fast updates of technology and giving them the best chance at a successful future in the media industry.

An example of this is the Center for Media Innovation and Research, or CMIR, Director David Carlson sums it all up in the first page, “We are committed to offering all of our work to others either open source or via Creative Commons licensing. We want to collaborate with other institutions and the industry at large. We want to collaborate with you.” This couldn’t be more true.

Above I posted a package I put together about the drought situation in Gainesville. I put this package together in the CMIR. Before this, putting together packages was done in a classroom type setting in the same building, where my TV2 class met to work at the TV station twice a week. It was still a pretty advanced space but sometimes packed. CMIR gave a great space to all students to be able to find a quiet place to work, always have peers around to help them, and never be short of computer or technology.

Even the CMIR website is consistently updates. The projects section gives the college a place to showcase the best talent in the university with diverse stories that are great to watch. This week much focus is being placed on the Mega Millions that are up for grabs in the lottery, and what a luxury it would be to win it. But us students at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism, already have plenty to be thankful for, starting with the CMIR where millions have already been put in, and we get to enjoy the results everyday.

I have learned a lot from this college, how to produce TV and Radio stories, the art of the one man band, putting together creative standups, writing for electronic media, the topics are endless. But maybe the most important lesson is the one taught throughout the creation of the CMIR: not to ever get complacent. As graduates of this school we may start above many other graduates, but that doesn’t mean we should ever stop learning, or strive to be better.


before we move back to me again…

I have a couple other blogs I want to talk to you all about.

The first belongs to Tondrea Haddly and is called “Super Stylish Fashion.” Tondrea blogs about fashion, obviously. The posting I enjoyed most was titled “A great look for Winter.” Now, I grew up in Miami, and I now live in Gainesville, by no means are these the coldest places in the world. So sometimes it is hard to figure out what to wear in “winter.” Tondrea talks about “Miami winter” and gives some great tips on fashion ideas that I will definitely put to use. 

The next blog I’d like to talk about belongs to Sarah Samuels. Sarah’s blog, “easy recipes for poor college kids” is great, for obvious reasons. I am a college kid, and I am on a budget. As almost every college kid I know is. Sarah provides great tips on making delicious meals without running out of money to pay your bills.

Now since we are on the topic of food, I’d like to also mention Alexa Padilla’s blog. Just as important as saving money is college, is finding ways to do so by eating healthy. Alexa grew up eating things that weren’t very tasty, and uses these experiences to make sure everything she makes for herself is. She also shares tips on healthy snacking. As students, we eat before class, after class, between class. Alexa gives you tips of snacks to bring with you that can replace what you find in typical vending machines. 

Enough about me…

I have been doing plenty of talking lately, about myself, my family, the books I illustrate and the characters in them. This week I want to talk about some other people I know. They are my peers, fellow classmates, and all very interesting in their own way. I couldn’t be more proud to be a student at the University of Florida, and a large part of the pride comes with being surrounded by some of the smartest minds and most wonderful students in the state. 

The first is Ashley. She blogs about traveling, but with a different twist. Not only does she tell you about her own fabulous adventures in different places around the world, but she also provides helpful tips, for when her readers are on their own adventures. Who doesn’t pack way too much anytime they go on vacation? Who isn’t on a budget these days, and can afford to save a couple bucks here and there while planning their vacations? These are things everyone deals with when they take a trip. Ashley provides tips, and uses her own personal experiences, to make sure all vacationers are ready for their trips.

Next up is Janny Rodriguez’s blog. Janny came to the U.S. on a raft from Cuba when she was 8. In her blog she gives tips on making food with a latin twist. Now as you know, I am Cuban as well. And when I  moved to Gainesville from Miami, the first thing I missed was having good Latin food around all the time. So I can appreciate Janny’s blog. And I am sure many other college students with Latin backgrounds can as well.  

Another one of my classmates, Bothaina Saleh, also has a blog. Bothaina is Arabic, and the first member of her family to go to college. Most impressive is that she is the President of the First Generation Student Organization at UF. Their really is an organization for everything at UF. And many are very meaningful and serve a lot of good. Organizations like these help make sure that students get to meet other students with similar stories. After reading about Bothaina, it does not surprise me that she is the President of this organization, as it quickly comes across that she is driven and confident, always standing tall. 


Who is Miguel, really?


This is Miguel AKA Gaston

Hey everyone, I have some exciting news to share! Our third book is up on Amazon.This one is called Miguel ayuda en la biblioteca. (Miguel helps in the library)

Now I find all of our books exciting but this one is especially exciting for a different reason. When my sister sent me the story draft I liked it a lot. It was about a boy who liked to help but caused a lot of trouble for others in the process. Remember that, now let me jump to a different topic.

I have a brother named Gaston. He is a year and a half older than me and was always 2 years ahead of me in school. We went to the same school from age 4 to 18. Now, some may think it would be exciting to have an older sibling in the same school as you, you know to look out for you. But not if you are a huge trouble-maker and he is the most well-behaved student ever. Gaston was perfect. The teachers loved him, the principal trusted him, even with the keys to the school. He was the biggest helper, getting called out of class when anyone in the building had a technology problem, being the photographer at school functions, saying the announcements at the morning assembly. Me? I played sports and caused trouble. I didn’t care to help anyone I cared to have fun. Even if it meant landing in the principal’s office afterward.

I couldn’t help but immediately think of Gaston when I first read the story. A little boy who LOVES helping but only causes trouble, just like he did for me so many times, ensuring that every teacher I ever had compared me to him, called me out when I was coming up short of the impossibly high expectations, and ratting on me any time I did something bad. So I drew the character just like Gaston. Same uniform and everything. And when Gaston gets this book he is going to be more than surprised to see that it is dedicated to him.

Until next week,


Search Engine Optimization

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is defined by Wikipedia as the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’ “natural” or un-paid search results. I am sure you use Google every once in a while. I personally use it a couple times a day, on my phone and on my computer. And I am sure you always click only the first couple of links you see. I never even go to the second page of search results. When someone edits their website they make sure to mess with the HTML and coding to ensure it will appear in various different search results for different keywords. 

Then website designers use links to other parts of their website in content, to direct people to other valuable information they may have. For example, if you were only reading my most recent blog post, I might link back to a previous one, like Policia Justo, so you could learn more about the purpose of this blog. 

Gun Permits Florida

Today I decided I would take a break from talking about my rookie-illustrating career, and talk to you about something I am much more familiar with as a student at the University of Florida. As I may or may not have mentioned I am majoring in Telecommunications with a specific concentration in News Reporting. Telling the news is a lot like telling a story, you need characters and a plot. And at the end it all has to come together with some kind of conclusion. This video is about gun permits in the state of Florida. I hope you enjoy it.

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

In class this week we were assigned to read a book by Steve Krug titled Don’t Make Me Think. Going in I had no idea what the book was about or what I would learn, but as I read it I found a lot of important information on things I had never thought of before, but probably should have. In short, the book is an overview of web design basics that anyone in the industry should pay attention to. It is well written, a book that gets to the point quickly, and the best quality it has is that much of what it says you immediately agree with. Those of us that are web designers, and those of us that are not, still spend plenty of time on the internet looking at websites. So we notice the things we do and do not like on particular ones. Some types of web design can annoy us, maybe the person made it difficult to find what you are looking for; and other types we enjoy more, for me it’s simple sites where everything is easy to find.

The chapter I found most interesting was Chapter 5: Omit Needless Words. I like to read. I typically enjoy it. But when I get to a site with too much wording I am immediately thrown off. This chapter goes through basic types of needless text that we see all the time, but everyone would benefit if we didn’t. For example, “happy talk”, or the words at the beginning of the site that are meant to welcome you and instructions. The author points  out almost immediately that no one ever reads instructions and when they do they just skim them for what they need. He builds on these two ideas and applies them to what he says are the most important parts of a site, navigation and the home page. And as I had in the previous chapters, I find myself agreeing, a lot.

The thing with this book is, although it was written with the intention of helping web designers, it can help anyone in the business of writing. Everyone scans articles. It is rare that you actually sit down and  read an entire article, and if you do, the second you find yourself getting more information than you care for, you begin scanning till you’re finished. The author points out a couple reasons for this, including that people are in a hurry and others just don’t care for the unnecessary stuff.

I found myself relating to these concepts as an illustrator. When my sister sends me the first draft for a book–meaning it is the first draft I have seen but a third or forth draft for her–it is very wordy. She does this on purpose giving me the creative freedom to pick the ideas that I like from every page and that I think would make a good drawing. Once I make the drawings and send them back to her, she continues to take words out. I need the original wordy draft to see what message she is trying to get across or how to capture the character, but once I translate that to a drawing, the reader will not need the excess words as well. Although children don’t scan children’s books the way that adult’s scan websites, it is better for a child just learning to read to have pictures to help him out and to not open a book an immediately be overwhelmed by seeing too much text.

All in all I enjoyed this book because of how it was written–short and to the point–and because as I mentioned before, it was all things I had thought about or at least agreed with once I read it but may not have considered when making a website of my own.


El policia Justo outlined

El policia Justo outlined

This is one of the sketches I made for the book.

As I mentioned in the previous post, we had trouble with turning the drawings I made for Senorita Bienvenida, into a PDF format book. Scanning the drawings did not work as well as we thought it would because colors that were the same on different pages, did not look the same when scanned separately.

With El policia Justo, we decided to change our approach all together. First I sketched out the drawings in pencil. I sent them to Marianne who placed them in a PDF layout in the places where they belonged. Once she gave me the go-ahead and I didn’t have to erase and add different things to them, I traced them with the thin side of a Sharpie marker. I took a picture with my Iphone 4s, and sent them to her in high quality.

Next, she colored them in using Adobe Illustrator. When this process was done, the end-result was amazing.

This is what the outline looked like after being colored in.

We did this for the entire book. I could tell in the proof PDF that she send me when we were done, that the book was going to look great and when I finally received my copy in the mail I was not disappointed. This is not to say I was ever disappointed with how Senorita Bienvenida came out.

SB was our first attempt, and we learned from it to make the second one better. I love how SB came out. The colored pencils give it an artistic feel that is not captured in El policia Justo. But we also knew we wanted to cater to boys the second time around. The artistic look of colored pencils worked well for a book for young girls. The outline and digitally colored in system we used for El justo Policia gave the book a truly-cartoonish feel that we though would work best for boys.

Next week I will discuss our latest project. And as the weeks go on and projects continue, I will focus on how we learn from one book to the next and how every book is different.

El policia Justo

El policia Justo

This is the second book I have illustrated.

The second book I illustrated is titled El policia Justo. Justo is an adventurous little boy who received a  bicycle for his birthday and decides he is going to become a police man. The story is about his adventures dealing with a neighborhood with an abundance of “crime.”

We received great reviews on our first book, mostly from family of course. Right now they are being published and sold through Once we have finished a larger amount we plan on marketing and selling them on our own.

Policia Justo took just a couple weeks for me to do my part. My sister’s role is, of course, more tough. As I said, we both are more comfortable in the English language, so writing in Spanish can take some time. Specially since making sure the books are grammatically correct is so important.

Also, as I mentioned before, Senorita Bienvenida was put together using colored pencils on an artist pad. Later they were scanned into the computer. This was tough because my sister had to find a large enough scanner to fit both pages in a layout together. When scanning them separately the colors would not match as they should. It is tough to explain, and made things even tougher to deal with. In my next post, I will tell you about how we approached this problem the second time around.

Señorita Bieñvenida

Señorita Bieñvenida

SB is the main character of Señorita Bieñvenida en el supermercado.

Meet Señorita Bieñvenida. This was the main character in the first book I illustrated. When my sister sent me the script, it was the first book of hers I had ever read, and I immediately fell in love. SB was a young girl who would take her dog to the grocery store. The book is about her adventures there and the people that have to clean up her messes.

My first stop was Michael’s. As an artist, this store is always my go-to. I find they have very affordable prices, and weekly coupons that can save you a ton of money. I have put hundreds of dollars into Michael’s purchases in the past couple years and I have found that whatever I buy, whether it be paint, canvas, frames, art pads, etc. the quality is always great, and I get exactly what I need for a fair price.

I bought a Canson Bristol art pad and an assortment of different colored markers. I had already made some sketches for what I wanted the book to look like and had them approved by Marianne. But when I got home I realized that the markers didn’t come out as well as I liked. So I returned them and picked up a pack of Artist Loft colored pencils. By no means are these high-end colored pencils, but they did the job well. I first sketched out the pages with pencil, then colored them in. They had a cute, girly feel to them. In less than two weeks I had finished the whole book. I gave them to my sister and let her take care of the rest.