No challenge is too extreme for Ryan Estrada. Since graduating from CCS, the artist has taught in Korea, volunteered after the tsunami in Koh Phi Phi, hiked through the Himalayas and created “ridiculously long” record-breaking challenge-comics.
“Originally, traveling wasn't intended to be a major part of my career,” said Estrada. “I moved to Korea on a whim after hearing about teaching opportunities there while chatting on my instant messenger at 3 a.m. I figured I could work on my own projects as I traveled.
“But as I got hooked, I ended up having more and more incredible adventures. After a couple years, I decided to start tying my two passions together and start making comics about the adventures I found myself on. But as they happened more frequently, I found I couldn't keep up! So while I was in India, I started filming my adventures instead. It helped me document more of what I saw, as well as prove myself to the many, many people who thought my adventure comics were made up.
“I've been lucky enough to build a career where I'm my own boss, and work on my own terms. I can live wherever I want in the world, take time off to travel whenever I want, and choose the projects that interest me personally.”
Estrada’s work has been featured on the online news show Rocketboom, published as part of the Flight anthology series (Random House) and appeared on CNN Headline News. His talent with video as revealed through his video series, Expeditions (www.ryanestrada.com), has earned him status as a YouTube partner.
“Expeditions is a personal project,” said Estrada. “I film it all myself with a small digital camera while I’m traveling and edit it on my laptop when I get home.
“The comics that I make about serious situations simply stem from being in such situations. As I traveled, I found myself experiencing parts of the world that many people never see, and wanted to share the experiences. Whether in comics, or videos, or stories, I share them however I think will work the best!”
Currently, Estrada is involved in a new business venture, Cartoon Commune, which provides custom comic books and comic strips. He also started illustrating comics, Life’s a Bluff and Livin' on Poker Road, for poker-related sites.
The seeds for Estrada’s extraordinary career began at an early age. His persistence earned him a position at The Oakland Press before graduating from high school.
“I first started applying to newspapers when I was 6 years old,” Estrada said. “I bugged the same paper until they finally hired me when I was 15. No matter what I accomplish, I'll never be prouder than I was when I got that acceptance letter.”
Through relationships Estrada developed with colleagues and instructors at CCS, he learned to refine his work and consider the impact of even the smallest details.
“The most important thing about CCS wasn't the classes, it was the people,” recalled Estrada. “I loved being surrounded by fellow artists who weren't afraid to tell me exactly what they thought about my work. Rather than the non-committed ‘oh, that's nice,’ while at CCS, I'd have dozens of people telling me what each stroke of the pencil, or line of dialogue meant to them, and offering useful suggestions on how to make it better.”
- Graduation Year: 2002
- Employer: Cartoon Commune, Ryanestrada.com
- Title: Founder, Artist/Adventurer
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