Now that Cynthia Larenas is an internationally successful designer and animator, she looks back at her childhood and sees the signs that she was meant to do what she is now doing. She always had a passion for art, creating her own greeting cards and food packaging at a young age. She would design logos for her imaginary companies and hassle her mother to get her craft materials. It took her until her early twenties to fully realize creating was a part of her, but once she did, she never looked back.
Now, Larenas has worked with some of the world’s largest companies and helped define smaller businesses. She has created artwork and user interfaces for eBay and Citi, as well as boutique, socially conscious start-ups. As an animator, she has worked with Old Spice and Jack Daniels, and as a designer she has produced content for Ray-Ban and Dyson. There is no limit to what she can do.
“I create beautiful, engaging, and bold visual pieces both in static and animated formats. As a designer, I create solutions for clients that not only look visually stimulating but serve a function as well,” said Larenas.
In addition to working for companies like Electric Studios and Nectar + Co, Larenas has had her own independent practice for over four years. With her own company, she has been able to help other businesses build their brand, and has largely contributed to the success of many.
As Lead Animator for the video Elevate that was part of an immersive installation piece shown at the Vivid 2014 Festival and Sydney’s Ambush Gallery, Larenas’ talent was evident to all that got to experience the film. The piece draws upon the idea of elevating to a higher level of consciousness through a dream-like, rain cleansing, hypnotic experience. For the Ambush Gallery exhibition, this video was projected onto the ceiling under a staircase further adding to the idea of ‘rising’ or ‘elevating’. The viewers sat underneath the screen on bean bags and listened to binaural soothing beats as they watched various elements from the video coming down towards them. The final scene of the video shows rain falling down on the viewer as a symbol for a cleansing and renewal. This video was adapted and modified to be a projection mapping piece shown as part of the Vivid Festival. Vivid Festival features many of the world’s most important creative industry forums and has over 2.3 million visitors each year.
With her independent practice, she was also the designer and animator for Local Measure, a Sydney start-up with clients such as Qantas, Virgin, Village Roadshow and Hard Rock Hotel. In her position as Lead Designer for Local Measure, Larenas was responsible for all creative output for the brand including branding, product development, UX design, interface design, marketing material, website design, video direction and animation.
“I had lots of fun working at Local Measure and was so thankful that I got to use my variety of skills whilst I was there,” said Larenas.
Larenas first became involved with Local Measure when she was working at a Sydney start-up called Roamz. Having analyzed the market, the leadership team decided to take their findings from the Roamz app and apply it to a more unique and targeted market. The Roamz app then became Local Measure, a social analytics platform.
“When I first made the transition to work on Local Measure, the product did not even have a name yet,” she said. “It was an exciting time because I had the freedom to apply my wide range of skills to a multitude of creative outputs. I was really able to grow and feel like I was playing an integral part in building up the business.”
While working on Local Measure, Larenas worked alongside Aylin Ahmet. Ahmet says Larenas played a pivotal role in the successful pivot from consumer app Roamz into the B2B world, and overcame all expectations when she was tasked to design the brand, styling and product experience of Local Measure.
“Cynthia is a gem to work with. She possesses a unique blend of energy, creativity and discipline that exudes quality work in a consistent way. Cynthia is driven to make a positive difference for causes that she is passionate about. Her vast skill set beyond product design into animation, cinematics and photography makes her a truly unique, multi-faceted, talented and capable creative,” said Ahmet.
Another highlight for Larenas was working with Vince Frost as both an animator and designer, the founder and Executive Creative Director of Frost* Collective, in Sydney. She was first introduced to Frost through the Happy Billboard Project. The Happy Billboard Project is an initiative by Adelaide-based artist Sarah Connor. After taking to the streets with friends and holding up positive posters to passers-by, Connor noticed how much of a difference these simple posters made to the public. In 2014, Connor applied for a grant to take this concept to a large scale and put these messages in huge billboards around the most high-traffic areas in Sydney.
With this goal in mind, Connor approached Larenas to design these billboards. Larenas decided to create custom typography for these posters as she really wanted audiences to feel the human element behind the message. She provided Connor with two options; one colored by hand and one drawn on the computer. With the help of these posters, Connor won her $12,000 grant and made her dream a reality.
As part of the prize, Larenas was introduced to Vince Frost to serve as a design mentor for the campaign, and after seeing her portfolio, he invited her to work at his studio on a freelance basis. From there, she worked on projects such as City of Sydney, Dan Murphy’s and Green Square. In addition, while Frost was preparing for the promotion of his second book titled Design Your Life, he asked Larenas to do some visual effects and animation work for his promotional video for the book.
“Working with Vince Frost was an amazing experience because it gave me confidence to see myself as a great designer. Coming from such a respected and talented creative, who has been so highly successful is extremely humbling and rewarding,” said Larenas.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind why Larenas is considered one of the best at what she does. Despite having such success, however, she remains humble. For the artist, it is just about doing what she loves every day.
“I really love this type of work because you get to see, experience and sometimes hold a tangible product at the end of a process. As a creator you’re incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to contribute to the environment around you,” she concluded. “I’m very thankful that I get to do what I love doing and that I took the plunge to follow what felt right.”
And those that see her work are very thankful too.