HOW FAITH TURNED A PASSION FOR DISNEY INTO A JOB WITH DISNEY
Chris Sequeira is a full-time graphic designer for The Walt Disney Company currently working on Movies Anywhere, Disney’s “movie locker” app that allows you to centrally store your favorite flicks on your phone, tablet, or computer. When he’s not designing for Disney, you can find him at Disneyland, illustrating all things Disney, or discussing Star Wars conspiracy theories. View his work at chrissequeiradesign.com or follow @cks.design on Instagram.
First things first, are you excited or nervous for the upcoming Han Solo movie?
To preface, my dad and I have more boxes of unopened Star Wars merchandise than I can count. On the record, I’m hesitant to answer this question, but I’ll probably walk out of the theater wanting to see it again.
Which came first, your love of Disney or passion for illustrating?
I grew up with Disney movies, Disney toys, and listening to Disney music, but illustration is a new passion that didn’t start until summer of 2015. I wanted to get better at design, so I created an anonymous Instagram account where I posted one Disney themed illustration a day for a few months.
Speaking of Instagram, you now have a small fan club —3.4k followers. How big of a role has social media played into your ability to take on additional creative endeavors and make new professional connections? How important is it to you to stay connected to your followers?
For me, Instagram started out as a way to keep myself accountable to designing well and creating new things. I am blown away by the support I get. Through it, I have been able to help other people start companies, do commission work for companies like League of Legends, and gain confidence connecting with other designers I absolutely respect and admire.
The connecting part is major for me. Anyone can gain more followers, but to create a solid relationship with people through social media is a lot harder. I have been able to create real-life relationships through this account that I never would’ve expected to happen. I don’t know what the point of having this “fan base” is if you don’t try to create personal interactions. I think about what direction my design path would’ve taken if it wasn’t for this account.
A few years ago, Disney and Uniqlo held a tee-shirt design competition asking contributors to submit designs that celebrated “friendship.” Your UP themed shirt won runner-up. Can you tell us about that experience?
A few months after I started doing illustration I saw this competition by Uniqlo. They wanted a Pixar design... luckily I had, well, a few of those. I submitted five different designs and didn’t think much about it afterward. One night, I was working in my kitchen and out of nowhere, I get an email. Out of 3,300 designs, my UP illustration had been selected as one of the top few hundred entries.
Fast forward through mini-celebrations and establishing that this was not some elaborate prank, my sister and I flew out to Pixar Studios in San Francisco. I was one of two winners chosen to attend a pop-up Uniqlo shop on campus. If my sister wasn’t by my side, I probably would’ve been wandering aimlessly. She helped me connect with new people, many of whom I am still in contact with to this day. The shirts I designed sold out to all the Pixar employees within 30 minutes —I didn’t even get one for myself. One highlight was speaking with Ricky Nierva, creator of the UP characters. He congratulated me and even told me he bought a shirt for his daughter. It was a pretty surreal “pinch-me” experience I had.
You previously interned with a Disney-affiliated company, but did you ever imagine that your first full-time design job would be working for The Mouse?
I still don’t think it has actually sunk in fully that I am working for Disney. When I moved down from the Pacific Northwest for college, I always had the idea that I could be cool to work for Disney, but never actually thought it would happen. That’s not something that’s supposed to happen to someone who didn’t know much about design not too long ago, right?
You’re originally from Vancouver, WA bur moved down to Southern California for this position. Did your faith play a big role in this transition?
The faith aspect was the hugest part of my move down here. With all my big life decisions, I have been blessed to have close people guide me in prayer. I would not be where I am right now if I had not been praying for guidance during times of confusion.
In the middle of this past year, I had three opportunities on the table, one of which was Disney. I prayed that God would make it evident which I should choose. Within a week, two doors shut, which led me to a summer internship with an advertising company in Portland instead. When that internship came to an end, I had another decision to make between staying up north for a potential full-time job or starting with Disney on a limited contract position. I prayed about it, and a week after my internship ended I was driving down to California with my mom and packed bags. I would start work at Disney just a couple days after arriving.
For me, it was all about stepping out in faith and trusting that God will protect your decision and keep you safe. For me, I left my entire family, girlfriend, and home friends behind to come to California. It was an extremely tough decision but knowing I didn’t make it alone will always bring me comfort.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received in terms of art and design goes back to high school. My photography teacher said. “If it’s the first idea you’ve thought of, it’s probably the first idea a lot of other people have thought about too.” I took it as the notion that you should not be lazy and take your ideas through a few trains of thought, because by that time you will be more likely to have a more original idea than others with the same task.
Words of advice?
Design is tricky and there’s no perfect way to approach a career in it. Don’t be afraid to create something new and share it with the world. Understand that design is a vessel to start a conversation, create relationships, impact our world, and bring people into a relationship with God. Because we are gifted with design, we have an awesome connection with the Great Designer and that alone should be enough of an inspiration to be the best we can at what we do.