Chrissi Hernandez is a creative director and travel blogger living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She started out designing bohemian prints for Scanty, a small loungewear company. For the last six years she has been sharpening her digital skills, art directing for thredUP and Sephora in foggy San Francisco and freelancing for smaller companies in sunny southern California. When she is not designing, she is traveling across the globe/ She is passionate about exploring, whether that means visiting a new city or country (Croatia is a recent favorite), or discovering new inspiring tunes.
Q. What exactly is a creative director and how is it different from a graphic designer?
A creative director conceptualizes a campaign, determining any details behind the way it gets designed or photographed.
Q: What do you love most about your career as a creative director? What would you say are some of your proudest achievements?
What I love most about my career is that I am constantly challenged with coming up with new ideas. Whether it be for a photo shoot, video, template, or ad, I’m always having to stretch my creativity to the max and often am learning about new platforms. One of the things I’m most proud of is helping shape all social media channels at Sephora. When I was first brought on board as an Art Director for social media, all the channels were full of imagery from all of 200+ brands represented. I worked with a graphic designer, photographer, and copywriter to streamline the look & feel so that we were creating original content from the Sephora perspective.
Q: What is a typical day for you?
Wake up. Drink coffee. Sit at my desk. Read emails… depends on the day whether I’m coming up with ideas for a campaign, or designing parts of a campaign after the shoot. I spend a lot of time researching other brands and current trends for social media. This means checking out websites for other fashion brands, pinning ideas on pinterest, reading articles, and meeting with our copywriter to discuss potential ideas. Most days I’m on the computer for a majority of the day pulling together visual ideas. Some days I’m on location at a photo shoot. I also travel to San Francisco once a month to spend time at our company headquarters.
More or less, it goes something like this.
Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Plan. Shoot. Create.
Q: Tell us about your career story. Did it start when you were young? After college? How did you get that first foot in the door? Did you have any connections when you started in this industry?
My story starts as a young kid with a talent for drawing. Then in high school, I continued a passion for art with 4 years of high school art, sharpening my drawing and painting skills. My high school art teacher was a great influence. She often introduced us to different types of art careers and schools I wouldn’t have known about since no one in my family had gone to college. Through this mentorship, I became interested in graphic design. I went to a junior college even though I applied and was accepted to SDSU, but I had never worked before and my parents couldn’t afford it. Those 2 years I was determined to transfer so I worked hard and got in to SDSU for my third year. After graduating with a degree in art with an emphasis in graphic design I started working at a bar. The program I was in didn’t require a portfolio at the end so I wasn’t ready to apply anywhere. I was feeling adventurous and left for Costa Rica to teach English. I got back and moved back in my parents and worked doing data entry. It was a bit of a downer. Then, I decided to quit my job and move to L.A. Through some people I knew I started hearing about small jobs here and there like creating T-shirt designs. Then through that connection and a few more portfolio pieces I got an interview with Fox, got the job, and started contracting with them. I was pretty fresh and not a great designer yet so I didn’t last long. But the opportunity led to more opportunities. I began creating pajamas prints that sold at Neiman’s and Nordstrom, then catalog design for The Pussycat Dolls lingerie line, then entertainment design for Yahoo!... with each new job I was meeting more people and learning more skills to build upon. It has been an amazing ride. I think a lot changed when a mentor at Sephora said to me, “design everything so that it’s something you’d be proud to add to your portfolio.” This really changed my perspective from viewing my work as work, and instead viewing it as a passion. How many people get to think of creative ideas and see them come to life!
Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests?
Outside of design and photography, I LOVE travel and adventure. I’ve now been to over 40 countries, and started a blog about travel, adventure, and fashion. I enjoy hiking, biking, diving, snowboarding, yoga, canyoning, and just about anything active you can imagine.
By Michelle Cho, Co-Founder and President