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Meet Valentin Saqueton of VEEEJZILLA in Mira Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Valentin Saqueton.

Valentin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up a Navy kid like a lot of people here in San Diego. That aspect of my life took me to Japan for elementary and high school. I was exposed to a totally different culture at a young age and was in an environment that constantly gave me sensory overload but in a good way. I wasn’t always a creative but as the years went by, I needed an art class to graduate high school and found that I have a talent for it, starting with photography and evolving into art and design. After graduating, I went to California College of the Arts in the Bay Area, where my immediate surroundings were an intersection of art, music, politics, and culture.

I went to class, became part of art collectives and participated in art shows, went to concerts, and really made use of social media as a tool to network, make friends, and share my work. I found a mentor in a local producer there, Al Jieh, and he got me familiar to the studio where I had my only job outside of school as a graphic designer at Majorminor where I was able to design logos and documents for financial leaders, build websites and brands from the ground up, and work on culturally relevant projects to me like 2Dopeboyz and cannabis startups. That was 2013 to 2015, fast forward a little bit, I quit my job and have now been freelancing for two and a half years, working for non-profit organizations, small businesses, and up and coming music artists and events.

Other than my professional life, I’ve made it a point to engage in my own creative endeavors. Through photography, I love to capture moments you can never recreate.

Through running a podcast, I aim to share the stories of creatives I’ve been fortunate enough to share a connection with. Having a clothing brand allows me to reconnect with my love for streetwear as well as the opportunity to produce something from the ground up in all aspects. Throwing collaborative events has allowed me to be an active participant in the community and bring different circles I know or are a part of together. I find myself involved in so many things and will continue to do so.

Right now, other than freelancing, my focus is on putting together events in collaboration with my friends here in San Diego. I put together a creative swap meet called Clean Slate with a San Diego staple, 5&ADime where we invite a diverse range of vendors to sell their wares, giving them face time with a community they may not often be in front of as well as circulate money into artists and creatives hands. Another project is an upcoming one with The Traveler’s Club called Each One Teach One where we will be putting together a series classes and workshops for writing, design, sound, and photo/video.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
To be honest, it hasn’t been smooth at all. Receiving criticism can be hard but as an artist or designer or whatever, once you put your work out for the world to see, it’s for the world to judge. Going freelance has taught me a lot through its a rollercoaster of a career, being rejected from jobs and gigs one after the other, financial struggles forcing me to sell some of my things or eat cup noodles or oatmeal for days on end, and really slow months with little to no work. At times I would feel alone as well. The creative and freelance life takes a toll with its uncertainty.

Despite all that, I never really questioned whether or not this life is for me, having persevered and having sought out solutions rather than complain about problems. It’s all been worth it in the end and I hope others realize that in their journey as well.

VEEEJZILLA – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I have many projects that have their own name, but me as an umbrella for all the things that I do would have to fall under my internet handle, VEEEJZILLA, a name given to me by a rapper friend that eventually stuck. Projects I have under my name or are a part of include One Degree of Separation (podcast), One of None (clothing brand), YKLAFAMILIA (art collective), Clean Slate (creative swap meet), Five to Nine (a small digital design studio), and Each One Teach One (workshop series). I specialize in connecting the dots, whether that be through branding and design, putting events together, highlighting other artists, etc.

A few things I think that set me apart include recognizing and using social media as a tool to connect me to other creatives and to get me more work (all my clients are referrals, I haven’t had to look for work), not being afraid to put more on my plate and try new things, and the years of experience I have doing this.

I’m most proud of being able to pay it forward in a multitude of senses. Working with non-profits have been really fulfilling. Having people know about my work and I has allowed me to work with and contribute to other people worldwide. I’m at a point where I outsource work and can put money in my friends’ pockets. I’ve been able to provide opportunities to others by connecting them to the right people or allowing their talents to shine. Also, not having a conventional 9 to 5, I’m proud that I’ve been able to eat and live off of freelancing for the last two and a half years.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
It’s very difficult to define success. With me, it always changes depending on what I’m doing. I would say that success to me, right now, means being able to provide for myself and those I care about by doing what I love to do. I feel as if that many people can’t say the same, so I have to do my best.

Also, it’s not about the accolades or co-signs, but for me, it’s how I can affect people and the world in a positive manner on my own terms. If I can bring about some change or spark the mind that does, I would call that a success.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Anthony Quisay and Mikey Avila

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