Alumni Spotlight – Juan Carlos Tafur Mejia
Juan Carlos Tafur Mejia graduated from the Digital Arts and Sciences undergrad program in 2008. He started his first company in web development. Four years later, he was looking to increase his knowledge in the field and joined the master’s program in Digital Arts and Sciences. After he graduated, he founded Innova Leaf Creative Solution, a Florida based digital creative agency, offering professional animated video content and promotional video solutions services.
Outside of working on various video productions and learning from others, Juan says that one of his favorite memories from his time in the DAS program is the connections and friends he made during his time at UF. “Never stop innovating and bringing new ideas to the table.” says Juan. “People will appreciate that and will make room for you everywhere you go.”
In what ways did your Digital Arts & Sciences (DAS) experience [at the Digital Worlds Institute] prepare you for your career?
When I first came to the US, I pursued an Industrial Engineering degree, but after taking many math, physics, and chemistry classes, I realized that that was not what I wanted in my life. That’s how I knew about the Digital Arts in Science program at UF. After joining this program as an undergrad, I learned different graphic design skills, development, and 3D modeling in Maya. I fell for it, and after graduating from this program, I started my first company as a web designer and developer. Four years later, I was looking to increase my knowledge in the field, and that’s why I found the Digital Worlds Institute at UF and its master’s program in Digital Arts and Sciences. The DW taught me the various components, processes, structure, and practice involved in any video production. Also, it taught me how to learn the additional technology involved in video equipment and editing. All this knowledge allowed me to find a job as a video creator and production designer, where I learned a lot about training and development and creative direction. All this knowledge helped me start my new company, Innova Leaf Creative Solution, in 2017. For the past three years, it has offered different video production services and content creation, including but not limited to video pre and post-production, motion graphics, creative direction, and much more.
What do you like most about your current career?
Now that I’m a business owner and I love what I do and offer to my clients, I would say that the best thing of all is the kind of freedom this offers. Being my own boss and providing the best service and attention to my clients help me create a close connection that I wouldn’t achieve working for someone else. I feel proud knowing that what I can offer is now used by other companies on a professional level.
What are your favorite DAS memories?
My favorite memories are based on the connections and friends I made during my time as a student and graduate assistant. Working in various video productions and learning from others gave me a better preparation for my career. Names like Darius Brown, Reid Perkins-Buzo, Demirbilek Muhammet, Brett Pokorny, Alison Kwiatkowski, and Angelos Barmpoutis mention a few, were some of the best people I met during my time at DW.
What advice would you give to current Digital Arts & Sciences students?
My best advice to any DW student is to focus your energy and desire to learn what you think will give your future career the necessary tools to succeed. All that base knowledge will allow you to learn more advanced skills once working in the industry. The best thing we do as creative people is precisely that, create. Never stop innovating and bringing new ideas to the table. People will appreciate that and will make room for you everywhere you go. The world needs more creative people and entrepreneurs in creative fields than the regular 8 to 5 workers. Always serve as a bridge to connect ideas with development.
Please feel free to add anything else about your education, career, or personal life.
As a Latin (Colombian) immigrant, I have faced many challenges in this country, but that never stopped me from pursuing what I was meant to do when I first came here. Now, I’m proud to be part of this culture and achieve what I have done until now. Only God’s will has guided me to continue my journey, and now I can help others achieve theirs. Even though I have done many things in these past 20 years, the path still has a long way to go. My best motivation is my family, my kids, my wife, my friends, and God. This is the best way to achieve anything I have wanted.