HARLINGEN — The camera never blinks.
But for Roland Anzaldua, every one of the cameras that have passed his way have offered a 20/20 vision to a career he never imagined when he earned his business degree.
“I actually wasn’t going to be in graphic arts or photography,” said Anzaldua, 40, graphic artist for the Harlingen school district.
“My main focus was going to be in marketing and advertising,” he said. “That’s actually what I went to school for at UTSA.”
Anzaldua, a 1997 graduate of Harlingen High School, earned his business degree from UTSA — University of Texas at San Antonio — in 2002. During his first job as marketing coordinator at Sunset Station, an entertainment venue in San Antonio, he worked on projects that exposed him to graphic arts.
“I worked with people from House of Blues, Clear Channel, a lot of their graphic artists and their designers,” Anzaldua said. “That pretty much got me into the world of graphic arts. I started training under them, being mentored by different graphic artists in that particular field.”
He found he enjoyed the field and pursued it with deliberate intent, quite a departure from the intriguing accidentals that had guided him there. Ultimately he was the one actually creating ads for Sunset Station.
“From there I started to gain more experience and getting into different private companies,” he said. “I did a lot of freelance work.”
That freelance work included projects for companies in San Antonio, Harlingen, Brownsville and McAllen. He returned to the Valley in 2007. The following year he accepted a position with the University of Texas — Pan American as a senior graphic designer. And then another accidental, an extension of the previous one; it was at UTPA that he became involved in photography.
“It kind of evolved from doing second shooting with the wedding photographer,” he said. “That’s how I got into shooting weddings, and it grew into family portraits and then into corporate shots.”
Second shooting is working as an assistant photographer.
He pursued this genre with specific diligence on his own time, attending workshops and engaging in online instruction. Ultimately he opened his own business, Vida Dulce Studio, in 2010, which he still operates today — when he’s not working for the Harlingen school district. That job began in 2013 when a job opened for a communications specialist.
It could be observed by many at this point that Anzaldua’s trajectory had come full circle. He reflected for a moment on his years as a student at HHS in the 1990s.
“I remember looking at the kind of work that was coming out of the district as far as the website was concerned,” he said. “I was seeing their flyers and some of their ads. They were good, but I felt like they could have been better. And I’ve always wanted to be in a position where I would be in charge of the branding of HCISD.”
His parents had been employed by the Harlingen district for many years and had regularly encouraged him to seek a position there. And so it was that Anzaldua took up the position and quickly honed his skills to an even finer degree. He so impressed everyone with his talent and drive the district promoted him to graphic artist in 2013.
“It was essentially the same type of job but I got more responsibility,” Anzaldua said. “It was a different role to become more involved with the branding of the district and also to be in charge of photography.”
And the kudos just keep rolling in. This past year the Texas School Public Relations Association named his photography portfolio best in the state. His designs have won eight Best of Category (magazine, brochure, outdoor advertisements) awards in the state by TSPRA.
WHO: Roland Anzaldua
WHAT: Graphic artist for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District
FAMILY: Married with three children
EDUCATION: Harlingen High School 1997
University of Texas San Antonio – Dual degrees in business marketing and general business – 2002
University of Texas Pan-American – Bachelors degree in clinical psychology – 2013