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The Hustle

Name: Esteban Valdez (Echo Bridge)

Posted By Bill DeYoung

Esteban Valdez is the creative mind of Echo-Bridge, an award-winning animation studio based in St. Petersburg. As the owner and director/producer, he oversees film, television and animation projects. His idea of developing a concept is one of a kind and often takes him back to his childhood cartoon nostalgia. Valdez believes that animation takes real storytelling skills "that struck you to the core." Passion, excellence, and dedication bring life to Valdez's production, increasing its demand.

You can catch a glimpse of his notable work on anime-inspired music videos, and on the Netflix animated comedy, "F is for Family." Echo-Bridge has accumulated important marketing and communication awards, making it a favorite amongst clients (including Amazon Studios, Comedy Central and the BBC).

Years in Tampa Bay


Hustle (job)

Director/Producer & Owner

What do you do?  

Try not to wear too many hats. Though, as the studio owner, part of my role is nurturing client relationships, making sure the business is operating smoothly, that the bills and people are paid, we’re in good legal standing and that the workshop is functioning correctly.

As the director/producer, my role ranges from developing concepts for film and television projects, artistic and animation direction on our commercial client work, and working with creative talent – artists, animators, writers, voice talent, VFX houses, in addition to creating schedules and budgets and being a creative leader.

Why do you do it?

Firstly, I believe that art is a very powerful medium and that when done properly has the ability to really shape our culture, which in turn helps us to better understand ourselves as human beings in this world. The second reason is that I believe in art being sort of a philosophical antidote; for it to be done correctly, a certain amount of craft needs to be applied, and that is something which we seriously lack in the digital age. This world is really craving good art.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

As far as being an artist goes, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to be since as far back as I can remember. Animation had always been around, but it was only Disney and after a certain point, the Disney allure, the spell as it were, wears off on you. I wanted to tell real stories, stories that struck you to the core. I wasn’t seeing that until I watched an animated movie called “Akira” back in the mid-1990s, and that really woke me up that animation could do more than just sing songs and tell jokes. And so, animation has been a love affair for a very long time now.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

One of the most common misconceptions about animation is because it’s art in motion, people tend to forget that it takes a lot of time to produce it. Often, we get people asking for animation and creative services thinking it’ll make a day to do it, when in fact to produce a truly captivating piece, it could take several weeks – if not months – to get it right.

And the reality is that it’s not just a couple of weeks of work. It’s all the years it took to acquire the skill, plus the couple of weeks of work to get it done!

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

The lack of understanding about what animation is on both the patron’s side and the artists’ side. Most patrons don’t understand the value of the work and often go for the cheapest and quickest result. Most animators don’t either, and subsequently undersell their worth which only perpetuates the cycle, turning it all to a race to the bottom. The end result is that we have a lot more animation in the world, but none of is worth a damn.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

“Keep doing what you’re doing.”

I don’t know who specifically said it to me, though I’ve heard it on multiple occasions. So, I guess I’ll do just that.

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