Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:00] Welcome to Wellfed a podcast for hunger creatives. I'm your host, Jon Sorrentino, a designer based out of New York and on this podcast, I speak to some of my creative heroes to learn from their experiences and discover the ingredients to grow within the creative industry. 

On this episode, my guest is Puno the founder creative director and teacher of the education platform, ilovecreatives. ilovecreatives focuses on developing courses that are applicable to a number of creative roles today, but takes it to a whole new level with Puno's sense of humor and amazing art direction. I think the word she used to describe her was edutainment. And I couldn't agree more with that.

Some of the courses they offer include Squarespace design, video editing, and Instagram content planning. And I highly recommend checking out, if any of these sound interesting to you. Before we get into the episode, I just want to share a few things with you first. If you want to stay up to date with the podcast, you can head over to, where I have all the episodes as well as videos and articles with tips for creatives, just like you.

Second, for this season I just launched a slack group that you can join by going to There you can share work and connect with other designers, illustrators, and photographers from all over the world. Last, but not least I'm doing free one-on-one portfolio reviews over zoom for anyone that signs up for the newsletter on the website, I've already had a few of these with listeners and we've talked about things like getting more clients, ways to present your work on your website and a bunch of other topics. All you have to do is sign up for the newsletter over at Now that we got that out of the way, I hope you enjoy this episode.

Puno thank you so much for joining me on this episode of Wellfed. Um, you know, to be quite honest, I first found you when I was, uh, came across one of your ads for, ilovecreatives and the Squarespace, um, you know, course that you put together. And, you know, I was kind of just stopped immediately because of how creative and how different it was of an approach that you had put together versus, you know, all the other online courses out there.

Um, I dug a little deeper. God said, you know, figure out what you do, what you're about. And immediately I knew in the future at some point, because it was maybe a year or so ago that I had to have you as a guest on the podcast. So thank you so much for joining me today. 

Puno: [00:02:08] Yeah. Ooh, you went down that rabbit hole.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:12] Of course. There's always, there's always a good reason or at least I like to think that, you know, the guests I have on here are people I really admire or, you know, kind of just caught me. Catch me off guard or inspire me in some way. And I definitely, you know, knew that I had to have you as a guest Wellfed.

Puno: [00:02:27] Ah thanks. Jon ads, man, that I don't know about much that click through rate would cost Facebook, 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:33] but exactly right.

Um, so Puno, before we kind of get into your background and your career and everything that you've done, uh, I like to start off each episode this season with what I'm calling five questions in 50 seconds. Um, now there's no real timer on here, so feel free to expand if you'd like. Um, but if you're ready, I'll go ahead and ask you the first question.

Puno: [00:02:54] Okay. Let's do it. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:56] All right. If you had to give up bread or cheese, what would it be? 

Puno: [00:03:00] Cheese, reluctantly. I think it's just because I really love bread. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:05] Yeah. And that's a lot of guests also say that as well. Totally. Um, what's your sign? 

Puno: [00:03:12] Gemini. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:13] Do you find that like the qualities are totally inline with what, how you are as a person?

Puno: [00:03:19] I don't know. I it's really hard because I don't, I don't really, um, look into it a lot, but I love talking about it. Um, meaning anytime someone asks me like, what's your sign? Or, and they're like, Oh yeah, Gemini is did . I love it. Cause it's so fun. Cause it's like, how intimate can you get with a person so quickly, you know?

Um, and horoscopes kind of do that, but. I don't know. I mean, sure. Yeah. Like I feel like I'm probably a little bit of every sign at the end of the day. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:56] It's kind of like a big, for some reason, I find I've been asked that a lot being around New York and it is like kind of an interesting conversation starter because usually the person asking that knows a lot about it and you're like, okay, cool.

Tell me, tell me everything you know. 

Puno: [00:04:09] About me. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:10] Yeah. Um, cat or dog. 

Puno: [00:04:14] Ooh. I love both, but like, you know, right now I have a cat, so she would be pretty mad if I said dog. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:22] Of course. If you can eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Puno: [00:04:28] I think soup. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:33] Interesting. Is there a particular soup or just soup in general?

All soups. 

Puno: [00:04:38] This is my way of trying to negotiate with you and your question, and just be like, I'm just going to get soup. And then that was a great way for me to like, get all the soups. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:49] Lobster bisque, clam chowder chicken noodle. I'll take it. I'll take it. And, uh, last question, Spotify or Apple music. 

Puno: [00:04:59] Oh, I think Spotify, I've not given Apple music a chance though, because I've already spent so much time feeding the Spotify algorithm, you know?

Like why do you want to go through that again? It's basically like another relationship 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:14] you're invested. You're definitely invested by now. Awesome. So Puno, you are located out in California. Are you in Los Angeles? 

Puno: [00:05:23] Yea I'm in downtown LA.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:25] How, um, how long have you been there? Did you grow up there? You know, what's your background on that?

Puno: [00:05:31] Yeah. I actually grew up in Texas in Houston and, um, lived there and then went to school in Austin, Texas at UT, and then had a stint, like six months in Dallas, um, Deep Ellum, anybody. And then, and then, um, kind of couldn't do Texas anymore. And my husband or boyfriend at the time was in LA. And so I came out, I actually transferred out to Los Angeles.

I was working at an advertising agency as a junior art director and I transferred. Out to, um, their sister office in LA and then, um, have lived here ever since. And I think, you know, LA is this huge, huge city, right? Massive 10 million people. And, um, all these little sections of the city. And so for the first eight years of my LA life, I was living in Venice because I was in the agency world.

And then I went into video gaming, which is still on the West side. And then, um, quit that and decided to move to the East side and downtown LA specifically, which was at the time or and still is growing like back and coming back alive. If you will. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:06:51] I remember the first time I traveled to LA and San Francisco and just seeing how vast california is cause it's like a New York city on steroids, basically. Right? Like every, there's so many little pockets of areas and neighborhoods and people who are sort of, you know, that's not, that's not this area. That's this area. 

Puno: [00:07:08] Yeah. It's kind of like New York is like pizza dough. And then LA is like pizza crust because it's out in the sun more and it's way more spread out.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:18] I like that. I like that. Keeping it, keeping it very food oriented here on Wellfed. I like that. Um, you mentioned you went to university of Texas UT. And did you, did you kind of go for art design? Did you know that like going into college? 

Puno: [00:07:34] Well, so I didn't even realize that there was like an art school or like a design school.

Like, I didn't think about that even though my aunt was a graphic designer. Um, she didn't, I don't think she did she go to. Gosh, I don't even remember if she went to design school. I don't think she did, but maybe she did shoot. Well, sorry. But, um, I just went to business because I don't know I was, I didn't know what to do.

And I think that I wanted to be a business person, but I, you know, when you're a freaking senior in high school, you don't know what you're doing. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:14] Yeah. You're like, clueless. 

Puno: [00:08:16] Yeah. I D I, for a minute, when I was in high school, I thought I wanted to become a plastic surgeon because I, um, my school was. It was pretty good.

It had these like, um, vocational schools that you could also go to. So I went to a medical rotation for like my senior year and I got a taste of every single department in the hospital. Um, like, and, and just like in the medical industry. So I wasn't even in the morgue I went to radiologists for, I went to a plastic surgeon and, um, realized though that I was like, I don't want to do this.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:57] So you took like a deep dive young in your, you know, as you were younger and the whole medical field, that's kind of cool. 

Puno: [00:09:03] Yeah. Yeah. I really wish that everybody had that opportunity with like any industry that they wanted to do. It's just like two weeks in every single place and just see like, Oh, that's how the radiologist jokes.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:20] Yeah. So you went into UT for business. How did you come out as an art, as an art director? 

Puno: [00:09:26] Oh, that's a great question. So, um, I really did not enjoy my time at business school. Um, I was, um, I was getting a marketing bachelor's and all of my classes just felt so archaic even though, you know, we were at the cusp of like internet.

So this is 2002 and, and, and like Facebook had just kind of started like YouTube. I don't even know if YouTube existed at that time or was just existing. And I knew that there was this thing called internet. Um, and I th I felt like more excited about that then about like the kinds of marketing that we were learning.

And so I just was really frustrated. And my last year I had an interview with Microsoft. And they didn't, I didn't get the job. Also. I got, um, feedback about what clothes I was wearing, which is like weird. Yeah. Um, they gave me like this brochure that was like, you should wear a blazer with a pencil, a black pencil skirt.

And I'm all like, Oh, hail. No, well, look like I work at Luby's like, that's nuts. So, um, I got really mad. Um, and then I cut off all my hair and so I just had like a fohawk nice. Yeah. And, uh, my mom did it for me too. And, uh, and then, but then I was screwed. Right. Cause it's just like six months until I graduate.

And I was like, Oh no, what did I do? Like, what am I going to do now? So I thought, okay, well, I'll start, I'll start a business. And so I had this idea because my friends at the time, they were all in the advertising department and they were all having really, really tough time finding jobs because at the time there wasn't internet, right.

So they had to buy airplane tickets and go to portfolio shows in Chicago, New York, LA, Miami, and, um, that's expensive. Yes. Yeah. There's no, you know, not everybody can do that. And also, I mean, think about it. You've got your student portfolio and you're showing the student portfolio to a creative director 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:46] and you're bringing it on a plane.

Like that's already so precious. You're like, ah, man, nothing is going to make it there in one piece. 

Puno: [00:11:52] My print ad, it's getting so, um, I was like, I wanted to, um, try to help them. So I, I like found this, um, guy on Craigslist, this programmer, and I was like, let's make a app that allows people to upload their portfolio.

And then I'll get all these creative directors to look at it and then that'll be an easier way for them to blah, blah, blah, which is so funny. Right. And like hindsight. Yeah. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:25] This is like the Behance and dribble before  they were a thing. 

Puno: [00:12:29] Totally. 2006. Right. So then, um, I did that and I was like, okay, I'm going to go.

I bought a ticket to, um, Chicago or New York. I don't remember, but I went to one of those cities and, um, went to, uh, snuck into one of the portfolio reviews. And, um, but I didn't have a portfolio. I just had my Toshiba laptop and I opened it up and I was like, okay, I know that. This is not a portfolio, but I wanted to show you this website that I made, that you can upload it was called, and you can upload your portfolio and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And then so many creative directors were so mad. Um, and we're just like, didn't know what to do with me. And it was just really freaking awkward, but then this one guy Arturo, um, from BBDO. He was like, that's cool. And he was like, what else do you have on the internet? And I was like, Oh, um, well, I made this like HTML page that has like some stuff I wrote on it.

And it was like, I had this one story about an ant that me in the eye. And, um, it was like really profane, but it was funny. And he was like, wow, you really, you write really well, like you write how you talk. And I was like, Oh, wow. Writing how you talk is writing well?

Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:00] Yeah. Yeah. I used to, I used to do that, but then also my spelling and grammar are terrible.

So, uh, It doesn't really work out for me, but Hey, you had it. 

Puno: [00:14:08] You can fix that these days now. Yeah. But yeah, so, um, she was like, we'll have, he's like, I can't believe that you built this website. He's like, have you heard of interactive advertising? And I was like, I don't know what you're talking about. And, um, at the time interactive advertising, which is basically now that doesn't even exist, advertising is online.

So, um, at the time they had another division or department or, you know, whatever in these advertising agencies that were doing just online marketing, online ads. And he was like, have you ever thought about doing that? And I was like, at this point, after being rejected by so many people, I was like, tell me more.

Yes. I interactive. I've been there. I can't wait. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:59] I do a lot of interacting. 

Puno: [00:15:02] Yeah, exactly. And so, um, he was like, well, give me your number and let's keep in touch. And maybe I can get you a, to do a small project with me. And so I went back home and he gave me a freelance. This is my first freelance gig. I had to write a diary entries for this target micro-site.

Um, and I did that. I was pretty awful at it to be honest, like looking back, but, um, it was my first taste into what that was like. And then, um, because I was just so adamant about like getting creative directors on there. I emailed every single creative director, this freaking website. Right. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:42] How did you go about finding their emails?

Cause there was no there's no real. I mean, maybe there was LinkedIn, I don't know, time, but, um, I imagine that was kind of tedious. 

Puno: [00:15:53] Oh yeah, totally. And it wasn't a, I didn't find a lot, but I, every single creative director I could find I would send it to, or I would just straight up send it to the agency, you know, hello at email.

Um, but, uh, yeah, so we sent that and then this one other creative director, um, saw it and was like, I'd love you to come in, um, and interview for an interactive, uh, position because we're trying to find interactive creatives. And so it was in Dallas, I went over there and then, um, they offered me a job and he was like, you're totally not qualified.

Like you said it straight to my face. He was like his name's Scojo and he was like, you are not qualified. Um, but. There's something about you. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:39] That's cool. That's great. So there's, so there's a lot of, uh, kind of like in between projects, in between work that you were and networking that you were doing before you landed at I'm guessing this is when you landed at DDB.

Puno: [00:16:53] Uh, tribal. Yeah. Tribal DDB. That's cool. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:56] What kind of projects were you? Were you still doing interactive? Like, you know, projects there, were you doing, you know, different stuff? What was that like? 

Puno: [00:17:04] Yeah, I mean, it was my crash course. Okay. So also he was like, what? So, you know, what do you want to do? Do you wanna be an art director or copywriter?

And I ha I thought I failed at copywriting cause I never got another gig again. So it was like art director. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:17:21] Nice, good choice. I feel like that that's like the, the, the good choice in that, in that equation. 

Puno: [00:17:27] I really, I do wish I could pick both because I love, I love writing. Just as much now. Um, but I don't know.

I it's really hard to separate the two, but I understand why they did it back then. But, um, anyway, so yeah, so we picked art director and then, um, had to learn Photoshop and had to learn illustrator and flash and Dreamweaver and all the good stuff, HTML. Um, so for the first six months, all I was doing was like, Li I, you know, tuts, uh, is it tuts, tuts plus TUTS?

Yep. I've seen that. I got all those magazines because web like not really. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:18:14] There wasn't anything on the web at the moment. 

Puno: [00:18:16] I had magazines and CD ROMs and like learning from all of these things and, um, staying late up late, late, late, um, up at night till like midnight, uh, worked extra hours just so I can get really fast at the programs, did a lot of email banners micro-sites um, and then finally, I, they always let junior designers pitch, um, concepts.

Even though they knew they were usually trash. Um, so I, I would stay up all night working on these comps. I mean, and if I think about it, I wasn't really doing anything. I was like shifting a button, like a couple of pixels, or, you know, I thought that I was designing, but I really wasn't. I was just shifting.

Um, and then one of my junior, um, one of my senior art directors was just like helping me out. She was frustrated with me, but she gave me a lot of feedback. That's cool. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:19] I mean, that's awesome. That's nice of her. 

Puno: [00:19:22] Yeah. Kelly McCulla. Yeah. She helped me a lot and gave me a lot of like helped me figure out how to find inspo.

And um, and then I finally, I got really fast and I got really, um, I guess like confident in six months, because I really put in the work and then that's when I asked to be transferred. And he was actually, he was down to like my, my, uh, bosses down to transfer me. So 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:52] that's cool. So, so you went from a business degree having no experience, no technical skills whatsoever in design, you know, the world of Photoshop, all that stuff to having this crash course within your first sort of position, learning everything along the way and sort of getting the lay of the land.

And then you transferred from Texas to the LA office. So you work up to, I guess, um, an art director at that point. Yeah. How long were you as an art director before you decided to move on? 

Puno: [00:20:31] Well, till 2008. So, so art direct, I was an art director and then, um, got actually trans, they, they kind of like just closed down tribal because they realized that there's no, there's no reason to have separate, uh, agencies for web and for print and TV and blah, blah, blah.

So they put them all together. And then I got hired in as an art director. I got a copywriter partner and I did, I worked on like TV. I worked on, um, TV, like the whole thing, 360, um, But I was still known as like the digital girl. So that was really helpful. It was so helpful to be for some reason thought of as the digital person, because people would come to me all the time and bring me into their meetings or bring me into like brainstorms and be like, so what do you think digitally?

So it forced me to like really research what the F was going on digitally in this industry. So I was like reading newsletters all the time. I was like, I was surfing the web hard, like all the time, remember Delicious. I had like mad Delicious.

Um, pre Pinterest. Right. So, uh, yeah, I had just like, just knew as much as I could about everything. And then, um, Actually ended up winning a really big project with Activision. Uh, and then I asked for a raise and then the 2008 recession happened and I got laid off. Gotcha. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:22:13] Okay. Gotcha. That's exact, that explains the timing.

Okay. So, um, I'm guessing this project with Activision, obviously doing a little bit of my research, sort of bridges that connection with the company. And at some point after the recession, or, you know, as things are starting to recover, you actually go to Activision as a UX user experience director. 

Puno: [00:22:37] Well, so actually, um, before that I was a freelancer, so I was freelancing because I got laid off and my husband was already a UX designer.

And I, I knew just, you know, by watching him what was going on because UX design just came up like right when the iPhone launched, it was like, that's when UX design became a thing, there was no more information architecture, blah, blah, blah. And so I kind of knew what he did already and his boss. Tim is really an amazing guy.

Actually, you should totally interview him because. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:23:16] I'm always taking suggestions. Absolutely. 

Puno: [00:23:19] And, um, he evangelized, like, I feel like his job at the agency was to evangelize and promote and create talent for user experience. And so he like was like, I think you'd be really good at user experience Puno and I was like, I don't really know what that is. And he'd have to kind of explain what he thinks it is. And then he asked me to just like apply. And so I did. And then other than that, I mean, I was like on my own, but, um, he ended up saying, um, asking me to be the UX designer, a UX designer for, um, this call of duty project at Activision.

And so that's when I started doing that. And when I was there, I think I realized at that point. Again, just because, you know, just because I've been in all of these industries that are just popping up, like I was just in it with interactive advertising, nobody knows what they're doing, we're all making it up.

Right. And I was like, yeah. So like, I, the CA like, I felt more confident because I already, like the first six months of my entire career life, all I learned was how to learn. And like, that was like the, probably the most important thing that people are like, Oh, well you learned Photoshop. I'm like, no, no, no, no.

I learned how to be resourceful. I learned how to be frustrated and overcome that and then pop out of it and work on it again. Like that's what I learned. And so then, because of that, I had all this confidence that I can learn anything I needed to, you know, whatever, as long as I knew what I needed to learn.

And so, um, with UX design, it was the same thing. It was just like, just figure it out. It's a problem to solve it, you know? Um, and I think because I had that confidence and I. Yeah. A little extroverted, 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:25:12] just a little bit. 

Puno: [00:25:15] I think that like kind of caught the eye of one of the guys there. Um, Noah Heller, he was producing.

I feel like he's this big, he's not a producer, but I feel like he's like a producer kind of guy. And he was like, I think you can be the executive. Um, I think you can be the user experience director here and like put together a team and blah, blah, blah. And so I was like, chill. All right. That sounds like a lot of fun, actually.

Yeah. And, um, and it was so fun because I got to hire. Had so much money, you know, to hire people like, 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:25:52] yeah, you get that budget. 

Puno: [00:25:53] Yeah. And you're just like, okay. Uh, so I like one of my friends that I worked with at tribal in Dallas, I always knew he loved video games. He's an amazing art director. I was like, Hey, would you ever like move to LA and be a, an art director on call of duty?

And he was just like, okay, but look, that's a huge move. You know? And then, um, and then I asked a friend who I was freelancing with. She was a user experience designer, Christina, and I asked her to join. And there was another designer that I worked with at another freelance gig. And he always wanted to do UX design and kind of did it already.

And then I brought him on, I had an art director friend that I worked with that DBB and he loved video games. So I brought him on and it was just this like fun crew of unicorns like people who were just good and sounds awesome. Love to play video games. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:26:56] Did you play video games yourself? 

Puno: [00:26:58] No. I mean the most before that was guitar hero on Wii like, you know, I don't know first person shooters, but, um, in order to get respect from the developers, you have to like, know the lingo you need to play and they'll look you up.

They'll look up your username and the, um, main creative director, um, from. Uh, from call of duty, like he was like, why aren't you playing my fucking game? Like, you know, 

Get in there. Right. And so I, I came home with an X-Box and a PlayStation, and I told my husband who does not play video games, especially first person shooters.

Cause he gets really motion sick, but I was like, we have to play video games or we're not going to hang out because that's all I'm going to be doing at night for the rest of this year. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:27:53] Yeah. That's so cool though. 

Puno: [00:27:55] So he like, he learned how to play. And so we played, I played so much, I know I played at least 140 hours worth of call of duty.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:28:05] Wow. That's commitment right there. That's crazy. Did you, I mean, I I'm guessing that may have not stuck since leaving Activision, playing video games? 

Puno: [00:28:15] Its so addicting. Um, and you know, and like. We, I mean, ours would just fly by and I, and then I remember there's we also played other games like StarCraft. And I remember this one time, Daniel and I, and my husband, we were like in the kitchen and I was just like, yo dude, you know, I thought you might have my back when, cause I was like trying to, you know, mine so that I could have void res, but like you weren't there.

And it was like three o'clock in the morning. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:28:50] Totally, totally. Like, I don't know if this relationship is working out anymore, you know, I, I really thought you were going to be for me on that, on that map, but so are you working solely on call of duty? Like what does that encompass, you know, not just obviously getting the lingo and learning the culture of the game, but like, you know, what are some of the projects that come along with that?

Puno: [00:29:10] Oh wow. Okay. So the whole, this whole project is, is, and this isn't. Activision isn't the only big company that's trying to do this. Every huge company at this point is trying to be the next big startup, you know, so they're all investing in their own little mini startups internally. And so Activision had, uh, Bobby Kotick who was like the guy at Activision.

He was like, I want the Netflix of call of duty. And we were all like the fuck. Does that mean? Sorry. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:47] Yeah, no, no. Swearing is totally okay on here, everyone. Yeah. I feel like, you know, when you're in a big company, the high up exec senior leadership, whatever they figure out, they pull a name off to like the, the newest startup.

And they're like, we want to be this company of CPG or video games or whatever. And you're just like, yeah, but you're, it's totally different, you know, you can't just like throw a name on there and be like, yeah, we want to get there. They're really just speaking to like the amount of money that companies making or whatever it is.

Puno: [00:30:22] Well, and I think it didn't make sense why we existed in, in a way, because to me, like the Netflix of call of duty was maps, like more extensions, more like versions of collar duty. Right. Like, um, but like we're, we were web people. So, you know, what were you going to do? Like build an interface for that? Like, that's dumb.

That's like, you don't really need that. Um, so we had to kind of figure out what that was. And we tried lots of things. Um, we like were talking about at that time there, like e-sports was becoming a thing. Um, and I really started feeling super passionate about that, especially because I was playing so much StarCraft and at the time was just like killing it.

Right. Like you remember all those Koreans, they were just like, Oh yeah. Okay. So. So that was really just taking off. And I felt like, you know, after playing StarCraft, I was like, what was missing is that there isn't this, um, sense of strategy there isn't this like common knowledge, the same thing about like the lingo that you need to talk to someone else about call of duty.

Um, it's the same thing. Like, you need to know what the strategies are in football to appreciate, like watching and playing a game. And so we needed to create different ways that people could play and strategize and argue about and, um, reanalyze a call of duty game. So that was kind of like what our pitch was.

And we built this. I'm telling you, man, we built this amazing website that was just like had stats up toe wazoo. Like wazoo and I would go onto YouTube and I would go into all these forums. They hated that I did this because call of duty Activision and they want NDAs, you know, about everything. And so I would go, and I would find people that like were stat junkies about call of duty and I would go pick their brain or invite them to come in.

So we could interview them and just ask them about like, what is it that like, what's your dream scenario in terms of, in terms of stats, in terms of like how you can analyze the game. And so we made all these awesome charts and like, it was really great. And then I just like the politics. I mean, while it sounds amazing, the entire time was just a struggle because you know, they're looking at us like kids trying to convince them that like, you know, this is the next thing, but they're not really seeing it and also not believing it and also not confident in themselves. And so everything's changing all the time. There's all this politics. People are getting fired all the time. It was just like chaos, but then it was also fun.

So after a while it just came to a head when my boss left and then, uh, the new guy came in, we finally, we were butting heads, but then we finally, he, we like understood each other, but then he got fired because that's what they do. And then they hired another person over me because they were like, she's the problem.

And then he just didn't, we just didn't gel. Like he just. It's not, we were just not the same kind of, um, creative, same kind of designer, unfortunately, or didn't have the same vision for it. And then I had to leave because I was like, actually, I remember he brought me in and he was like, he was so mad at me.

And I was so mad at him and he was like, kudo, you need to tell me right now. Do you want to be a leader here? Or do you want to be a follower? 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:25] It's a weird question to ask. 

Puno: [00:34:27] Well, because I was, I don't know. Yeah, I guess so it is a weird question and I, but I responded, I was like, dude, I cannot be a leader here.

If I'm a leader here, I'm doing the things that I feel confident in, but you're telling me all the time that they're wrong. So I'm going to be a follower here. If I'm going to stay. And then at that moment, I was like, I can't stay here. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:54] That's a really, I mean, that's a really great response though. Right?

Like being honest. And I mean, I think, I feel like I've had that moment at times where internally I'm like, I can't, I can't function the way you want me to, just because of the environment, you know, like, it's just not going to be like, you want me to be this like courageous person that like galvanizes the crew, but at the same time, it's like somewhat depressing to be here and it doesn't really get me energized to do that work.

So you sort of fall in line at the end of the day and eventually you kind of, I mean, me personally, I've, I've just gone down the path of like, all right, I need to leave. I need to like, go find something else that like, kind of sparks that, that light inside of me again. 

Puno: [00:35:32] I, and I think that that's okay. Yeah, absolutely.

I also like was so mad and I was so, you know, when I left Activision, I was really. I made a lot of generalizations about what had happened. And I blamed that it was a big company. I blame that it was a corporation. I blamed that it was that he was a man or, and, or whatever. And really at the end of the day, he, he and I just had different ideas about the culture, about what we wanted to design about all those things.

And if we weren't able to agree as leadership, it just wasn't going to happen. And I think that, you know, as a freelancer now, as an independent, I'm so much more aware of my deal, breakers of like my terms of what, what direction I want to take things that we can leave these gigs now we're not so no, like no job or, or project is so high stakes anymore.

It's like, you know what, at the end of the day, like if it doesn't work out, I'm just going to end the contract or we won't renegotiate, blah, blah, blah. But, but when you're at this job and you're like, You know, it's just so much more high stakes and you just feel stuck. Um, and so I think that's like what I'm really appreciating about what's going on with Corona.

Like w what's going on with the world right now are all becoming more service-based, we're all figuring out freelancing now. Um, and we're all getting our own sense of agency about what we want versus being like, I don't want that, you know, like you're not giving me what I want actually, more so that the like, blaming of, of like, I used to blame him, I blame him for why I was so unhappy.

And I was like, it's not all his fault. Totally. You know, it's like, I just don't, we just don't fit. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:37:32] No, I think, you know, like going, having the maturity and responsibility to look back on that and realize that I think is something we kind of all come to over time. Right. And I think that's great. Do you, at this point, so you're leaving Activision.

Is this when you sort of just decide, like you're going to go independent and what's next for you then? 

Puno: [00:37:54] So my husband had already quit a few years back and, um, really dove back into programming and, um, learning everything he wanted to learn. And so we did a few projects together, um, and was just like, well, I know design and UX and you know how to code. So maybe we do something? 


Jon Sorrentino: [00:38:20] not? I mean, we're already married, like let's do this.

Puno: [00:38:24] Yea and so we did, we like decided to, gosh, I remember when we were first trying to figure out what we wanted to work on. We have like, this there's like moleskin of course, of ideas and wrote them all out in columns and had secondary ideas under the bigger ideas and whichever one had the most ideas.

We just wanted to work on that one. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:38:51] Okay, cool. Do you find that 

Puno: [00:38:54] That was not the best way to go about it? 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:38:57] Sure. Do you find, um, I'm guessing, do you still kind of collaborate with your husband on projects? Do you, are you guys currently kind of like working together a lot? 

Puno: [00:39:05] Yeah, there was a moment, um, where we made another app called peoplemap and Daniel basically took that and had to run with it.

There wasn't really much more for me to do. Uh, there was also a moment where we realized that this business sucks in terms of, we don't know if Facebook, cause it was very reliant on the Instagram API, and we weren't sure if it would just shut off one day. So I then had to like go and I really built out, ilovecreatives.

So there is a moment where we were separate and then just recently we shut down, um, peoplemap in October and um, now Daniel's full-time ilovecreatives. So now we're back working together. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:51] Very cool. So peoplemap was the kind of platform that you use. Dug into the Instagram API to kind of analyze influencers for people that are say, building brand campaigns and influencer campaigns and things like that.

Um, it's very cool looking. I, you know, I think again, I really admire the, your kind of ability to just for what it seems like. You just have this idea, you go out and make it, you launch it very quickly and. Everything is done tastefully, you know, I think like that's, that's a lot of the time where 

Puno: [00:40:23] That's so funny that you say quickly, because in my mind it was not quick.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:40:32] Maybe it wasn't. Um, but you know, I think like working in tech and product today, myself, like, you know, you see all these great ideas and there's always that component as a designer, you see missing out, you know, you see that kind of quality and polish that a designer and the engineer are able to put together when they collaborate.

But you see some of those, um, some of those moments that are missing. So peoplemap, I think like, um, you know, very wise in that sense, that to realize that it's reliant on another company and that could disappear at any moment. Um, maybe, could you tell me, like, explain, you know, what is, ilovecreatives?

What is sort of the mission? How does that, how does that kind of come about. 

Puno: [00:41:13] Yeah. So when I first made, ilovecreatives, um, it, it was a newsletter and it was because it was really hard to figure out like what's going on with the creative world. Um, cause we were all just figuring out Instagram at that moment.

And, um, Facebook was like also kind of meh, you know? And so, and LinkedIn wasn't really the place for us to really, you know, have, I don't know, it's more like a, you know, a place for resumes. So we made this newsletter, my friend, Evan and I, and um, just built it on over the weekend. Squarespace, MailChimp.

That was it. And um, at that time, just like. Had been giving away ads and like having people put ads in these ads were like jobs that people had or services that they offered or events or just random stuff. And so we ran that every week. I mean, we've been running this newsletter every week since 2015 till this day.

Wow. And I promise you like that is the only reason why it exists because there was this, this actual, like piece of content, consistent piece of content that was relatively easy to create. Um, people wanted it and, you know, as long as it existed, people would open it. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:42:55] And what was in the newsletter. 

Puno: [00:42:57] It was just like the jobs and the events or the things that other people did.

Most of the things, the ads that are on, ilovecreatives. I don't even know the people who put them up there, nothing. So I think the other thing that was really nice about it was that it wasn't corporate. It was because there's a lot of like job boards, right. That are very like Squarespace is looking for a designer or Uber's looking, you know, it's, it's like these big companies that can afford those ads spaces.

This was more like a lot of indie designers or, um, C and indie CPG brands or fashion is, you know, it's like the, us small guys. And I think that what ilovecreatives tends to attract, which is what I am and what I was at the time too, are like, slashies that are ready for something new. And are looking to see what else is out there.

And we kind of are the, what else is out there. So, um, I think that's what we did. And I always kind of forget that sometimes. And whenever I remember it, then I'm like, Oh my God, there's so much stuff we could do for this group of people, this community. And so I would just throw crap on that website that I thought would be helpful.

So like one day I threw up this spreadsheet that I created when I was freelancing, that just helped me figure out my rate and figure out how to, um, manage my time. And then, uh, I added like, uh, an Instagram course that I was like, I think people might enjoy this and just really just threw up whatever I thought would be helpful for people like us.

So that's kind of what ilovecreatives started off as, and then there was this one moment when, you know, this whole time I'm bootstrapping this business because, um, it takes, it took a while to build up peoplemap. And I was, I was freelancing as a Squarespace designer and, um, I got, you know, I got to the point where I needed help, which is amazing as a Squarespace designer.

And so I put a job ad out on my own on ilovecreatives, and I got a ton of submissions, but not a lot of them were super great. And I think I was kind of, I was like bummed, but I was also like, Whoa, because I was bummed because I felt bad for these people who wanted this gig and they're not going to get it.

And this is my website. I also felt bad for whoever puts jobs up. Like how, you know, don't you want like a ton of really great applicants too. And then I just felt like, I, I mean, I felt like there wasn't really a place for these people to learn this specific, very specific skill. You know, that's still not that easy.

Like it's still nebulous and, um, you can't just watch a Skillshare or maybe you can now, but, um, so I was like, maybe I should make a course just for Squarespace design, because I know for me it was like great. It like hit all the boxes that I needed to make money and not feel overwhelmed and feel fulfilled and blah, blah, blah.

So, um, so I, but at the same time, this is when online courses are like on a rise and there's all these like cringy online education out there. And I was just like, I don't know if I want to do this. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:46:53] Yeah, no, totally. I mean, like, it's crazy a lot of the, you know, influencers that I watch on YouTube, you know, ma whatever, um, other people in the design kind of industry that have put out other courses and things like that, you know, I get that sense that it's, it just feels very the same, you know?

And I think what, as a designer and having a kind of ear down to the, to the market and what it's doing, it's like, there needs to be more of that. Like this isn't just a, a course, this is like a platform, you know? And like I'm seeing more of that gravitation, I think, um, There are two videographers that used to work for one of the big media companies.

And they did a course on photography, but it's not just a course. It is like a platform for global, you know, like students or global photographers, like the, you know, there's all these different kinds of hybrids or sort of like, as you were saying, like slashies parts coming into this, like, you know, this product.

Puno: [00:47:50] Yeah. And at first, you know, I, I didn't like that. Like, I didn't like, not that specifically your, the photographers coming in, but just the, um, the cringiness of it. But I actually also loved it because it democracy it's democratizing education. Right. It's allowing anybody to, to do it. And we're just at the beginning of it.

So it's a little rocky, right. And people aren't understanding like exactly how to market themselves, how to create curriculum that sticks and how to, you know, Just make her an amazing, become an amazing teacher. And so I feel like that because there's stuff that people are like, what is that? I think when I, when I got like, I think it was the first time that we launched and I was the only person that was doing customer support.

So I was answering all of these questions about this course that I'm creating. Right. And I w I was just so amazed because. I don't remember ever asking these kinds of questions when I was in college, like I just went in the frickin course directory, read a paragraph and then picked that course, you know, like I didn't, I didn't say like, what am I going to get out of this?

Like, what's, what's, what's the, like, what tools do I need? Like, who are you? Like all the, you know, I didn't ask any of those questions. And so I think that is kind of one of the, even better parts about online education is that there is this, um, this like sense of like autonomy, like you can do and learn from whoever you want and you can investigate and see if they're the right person for you.

And if it's not, you can go find another photographer or another videographer that you really admire. And I think that that is the best part about this whole thing. And I think like, We have just created this gigantic university. It's just getting started, you know, 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:49:58] Very cool. So I guess maybe the, is the plan to kind of continue to grow that sort of branch or that, that part of, ilovecreatives.

Puno: [00:50:07] Yes. I mean, education is so incredibly fulfilling and so hard, you know, like it's, it's ver we have so many different students that come and take our course. And of course there's, you can always make education. That is really transactional. You know, it's like, Hey, this is a hard skill, or this is a lecture and blah, blah, blah.

But if you really want to teach somebody how to learn or how to. Um, have confidence to learn like that is really, really hard and you need a really hard project in order for someone to do that. And I don't think I've cracked it either. I feel like with some people I might have, but not with everybody because everybody learns differently and everybody has their own hangups and everybody has their own mindset issues, and everybody has their own technical, their own hardware.

Like some people are working on fricking old ass laptops. Like there's just so many problems to solve when it comes to education. But what's the same is when people learn how to learn and they tell you like, Oh my gosh, I like this course gave me confidence. Well, every time that happens, I'm just like me 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:51:32] Tear up a little bit.

You know, it just kinda hits you. It hits different. 

Puno: [00:51:36] It hits so different because, you know, as I'm sure you feel this way as a designer, we're so far from the consumer, like we're S we're, we never talked to them face to face. We, we never have anything. Also that's packaged like, like a song, you know, it's not like when people see design it's that's, I think why people love like chairs and like, they love print because it's like this tangible, like finite thing that you can just cherish, but designers have like websites that have lots of pages and emails and, you know, user experience.

And it's not, it's really hard to just, you know, get that feeling from really quickly. Um, so now we have to create experiences and we have to create like mini journeys with people. So I think that's like the really cool thing about seeing a lot of designers. Like, I, I wish we could make everybody a designer, like a, at least a web designer, you know, I would love that.

Right. I feel like everybody, if Eddie for really needs to learn how to write, everybody needs to learn how to draw. And everybody needs to learn how to make a website. Because once you learn how to make a website, you can connect with people. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:52:59] Especially now. Like, I feel more and more of that democratization, you know, you see companies like GoDaddy, obviously Squarespace.

They're trying to make it more approachable and less sort of scary. And I do think, you know, as a designer, I feel privileged in a way that like, I have this sort of mentality of like, I can almost make anything, like I can fake it enough to make it seem real. And I feel like more people would benefit from that at times, obviously, you know, they go in different directions and they don't have that sort of same thinking or skill.

Puno: [00:53:29] Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yes. I, I mean, I feel like, do you know, tiny capital? No. Um, so I was talking to Andrew and he he's the founder of it and he, um, he was a designer and he was like, I love designers because designers, especially like designers that are freelancers, because like we know how to sell our work and we know how to build.

Build things from other people's ideas. Like that's all our training is that's all we do all the time. And so once we've learned that, which is, you know, you gotta, you gotta put in some work and some hours, because then you have to then establish your taste. And that takes time. Then you can start building your own ideas, which you're, you've got all these tools now, like all of this, the soft skills and the hard skills to, to like really see something come to life.

Um, and I think like we're just at the cusp, like we're just at the beginning of being able to do that. And I was talking to a friend about this, cause I was like, I feel like we are a hundred percent moving to creative independence, you know, like there. There's going to be so much more autonomy and everybody is going to be so like less reliant on employers because it's going to be easier to find new gigs were already complaining or like the older guys are already complaining about loyalty.

Like, sorry, that's just, that's just how it is now. Like, I can find a job in like, you know, a second, as long as you're good, you can move on around. Um, and lucky. And, um, I think that like, what what's going to happen is everyone is just going to be able to say like, Oh, I want to build this thing, but I don't know how to code.

Well, let me find a programmer. And it's like, okay. Or I need to add, um, payment systems. Oh, let me just add a plugin. So we're all like, just going to be collaborating. So much more on this crazy level. We're already doing it, like with plugins, code snippets, resources, education, like we're all like learning from each other and like collaborating each other.

But I think once we all get on the same page about that, then everybody's going to have autonomy in there. Everybody's going to be able to just do whatever the fuck they want to do. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:56:03] No, I mean, it's, it's so cool to see, like, you know, um, like there, I don't think I've had, I've only had a few guests that were kind of like in the UX product design space.

And I think you bring such a passion about collaboration and sort of having that, um, that kind of ambition to like collaborate more and more and more, you know, when you hit those walls and you don't have, you don't have the skills yourself, it's like reach out, find the people that you can connect with to really foresee, you know, see this goal out.

Puno: [00:56:35] Yeah, I think, I mean, in my Instagram course, I think the biggest takeaway honestly, is how to talk to strangers. Yes. Honestly, I think that like, everybody's like, I want to learn how to grow and go viral. I'm like, we'll go find another fricking course because that's not what this one teaches you. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:56:52] That's very cool.

That's like a super power in a way. And I feel like, um, you know, my, my mother would describe me as someone that could walk in a room full of strangers and walk out with at least one friend, you know? So I think it's funny you say that because I do think in a way it is a superpower, right? Because it's like, you have to kind of get over being uncomfortable and that's not easy for a lot of people at times.

Like, you know, when I was younger and in school, I would have like the social anxiety and like get way too drunk in the first five minutes or something like that, you know, like. Obviously it takes practice. Um, but yeah, like that is, that is such a key thing at times to, uh, or a skill to have, have at times.

Puno: [00:57:30] So how did you learn to transition to the guy that figures out how to talk to anybody? 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:57:38] Um, I don't know. I think like, I, I guess it sort of started when I was a young, you know, like I was sort of, uh, there's probably a lot of reasons why I was the shortest in my group of friends. So I felt like I had in a way, nothing to lose, um, when it came to like hanging out and stuff like that, I guess I was, I was made fun of a good amount.

Um, and I, I sort of just like kind of own that as I grew up. Um, you know, I think like, uh, being able to like understand or realize your weaknesses or the things that, you know, you don't think are so great about yourself and just like. Sort of like in a way overcome them, I guess. You know, like now I feel like when I, when I go to talk to someone or when I go to introduce myself, I, uh, kind of just don't care if they think what they think about me, you know, like there's, there's a big part of that.

Um, so I think, yeah, maybe that sort of helped has helped over time and has grown into that kind of super power, I guess. 

Puno: [00:58:42] I know it's always like the simplest, but the most, all encompassing thing you have to get over, you know, it's just, absolutely. It's just so simple, but it's just like, Oh, it's everywhere.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:58:57] Yeah. Yeah. It kind of just follows you through and, and, and yeah. You know, now, I mean, it's also, I think like in, in the younger ages, you know, my friends would go dairy when you go talk to this girl at the time or wherever it was. And you sort of like, that was sort of the crash course, I guess, or like the practice of being like, okay, I'm going to say something really stupid or something embarrassing or like this person's not gonna like, is going to think I'm an idiot.

And funny enough, like now obviously having matured, having grown up, I know how to sort of introduce myself or start a conversation in a way that doesn't come off as creepy or whatever it may be, you know, like as, as offending or is a little bit more at ease or approachable. And I think yes, over time, you know, obviously part of it's starting this podcast has sort of been a practice for that as well.

I know before we end the episode, I would love to, um, sort of ask you a question that I'm ending each episode on. So, um, you know, if you had to give your future self advice, even though we've gone through so much and things like that, anything in the, in the things that we just talked about or something, you know, something new that you would kind of offer up to the person, you know, you from say in 10 years from now, or five years from now or whatever it may be.

Puno: [01:00:15] Hmm. I love the future self, you know, everyone's always the past. Yeah. Everyone's like talks about it's like you actually can't. 

Jon Sorrentino: [01:00:22] Yeah. Yeah. I haven't heard anyone say that quite yet, but I'm hoping that's okay. 

Puno: [01:00:27] I wonder how far we should go. 

Jon Sorrentino: [01:00:30] Let's just say a minimum of a year, two years. Oh, wow. 

Puno: [01:00:35] Pretty soon 

Jon Sorrentino: [01:00:36] I would.

Yeah, I think, I mean, I don't know. Maybe I'm, I'm also sort of realizing that I'm I thought I have patients or had patients and I think over time I'm realizing that it's really hard. It's really, really hard to, to not get the answers that you're looking for immediately. So I would even say like, for me, I'm trying to make it through a year next week, a day.

So I think, you know, being, being, um, a little bit, uh, grateful for a year from now would be, would be awesome. Mm. 

Puno: [01:01:09] I think, okay. It's good. I mean, I agree. I feel like, I feel like two, one or two years is realistic and tangible enough that you could say something, I would say, um, uh, it's it's your time now? Or it was, it's your time now in right now in the, uh, in the past.

Um, and I hope you enjoyed it. 

Jon Sorrentino: [01:01:40] I'll take it. Um, Puno where can, where can people find you find more about you? I know we didn't get to talk about this, but I know, um, you did like a magic spoon kind of video review. 

Puno: [01:01:55] I love the magic spoon thing. 

Jon Sorrentino: [01:01:57] I love, I love approach to that, but you know, where can people connect with you and see all these great things that you're doing and, and, you know, any of the other projects that you're, you know, you are working on right now?

Puno: [01:02:08] Well, it's all on my Instagram @punodostres. And then, um, my, I live That's I'm like all over that and, uh, and yeah, and that's pretty much it. 

Jon Sorrentino: [01:02:24] Awesome. Thank you so much for now for coming on and being a guest on Wellfed. Thank you. 

Puno: [01:02:30] Thanks so much for having me.

Jon Sorrentino: [01:02:38] This podcast. It's produced by me, John Santino out in Jersey city, New Jersey editing, mixing, and music are all done by my friend, Kevin Bendis in Greenpoint Brooklyn. Definitely check him out. You can find out more about Wellfed and where to listen at or on social media at wellfed.podcast.

Thank you so much for listening and we'll see you soon.

Creative Director and Founder of ilovecreatives Puno Went from the Video Game Industry to Owning Her Own Studio and Teaching Design

A web designer and digital entrepreneur, Puno is a Digital Educator & Founder of ilovecreatives, a platform connecting and edu-taining creatives living that slashie life. I first encountered Puno through her humorous Squarespace design course advertisements which stood at as a unique approach to the online education space. After doing my research and learning about Puno's diverse background starting as an art director and working her way to leading UX design on Activision's Call of Duty, I couldn't wait to have Puno join me as a guest on the podcast.

Image courtesy of Puno
Image courtesy of Puno
Girlboss Radio hosted by Puno
Girlboss Radio hosted by Puno
Website design by Puno & ilovecreatives
Website design by Puno & ilovecreatives
ilovecreatives student work
ilovecreatives student work
Image courtesy of Puno
Image courtesy of Puno