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Family, Art, and an Emmy Win: How One LAMusArt Alumnus Honors Family, Tradition in His Art

Cartoons can often be one of the very first exposures to art that kids interact with, often leaving such an indelible impression that they evoke feelings of nostalgia well into our adulthood.

This sentiment rings true for LAMusArt alum Michael Puga, whose love for cartoons as a child led him to a career as an artist and animator. But as Puga himself states, “family comes first, art comes second.”

Puga, whose parents immigrated from Mexico, is a first generation Mexican-American born and raised in the Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles community. He frequently draws (pun intended) from his personal experiences and infuses them into his art.

In fact, his fusion of family and art most recently led to a Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Main Title for an Animated Program for his involvement as executive producer on the show The Casagrandes.

Cast of Characters from Nickelodeon's The Casagrandes

The animated series, broadcast on Nickelodeon, follows “Ronnie Anne, an independent, adventurous, 11-year-old as she explores city life with her big, loving, multi-generational Mexican-American family.”

"It's something that I never knew I was gonna get. And, you know, I do pinch myself,” said Puga. "It was something that was like you know, just showing kids that this is attainable."

After attending the Art Institute of Los Angeles where he graduated with a BA in Character Animation, Puga worked as a Storyboard Artist, Development Artist and Character Designer on many animation productions. For the past 9 years, he has been at Nickelodeon where his influence can be seen on multiple animation productions including The Fairly Odd Parents, Bread Winners, and The Loud House where he was promoted to Board Supervisor and Director.

For Puga, who is now a father, continuing to pass on his love of family and the arts is important. Just like him, his daughter is now an LAMusArt student herself, representative of the next generation of artists being cultivated in the Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Such accomplishments from former students is one of the reasons LAMusArt is proud to serve its local community. In fact, to commemorate its 75th anniversary, LAMusArt reached out to Puga to commission an original illustration that will be featured on the organization’s holiday greeting card.

As Executive Director of LAMusArt, Manny Prieto, puts it, “We are so happy to partner with LAMusArt alumni to celebrate and highlight the importance of arts education. The fact that we are able to serve generations of students,” he added, “is indicative of the longstanding impact of our organization in our community.”

You can learn more about Miguel Puga and follow his art on @pugavida

To learn more about LAMusArt programs or support, visit today.

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