“Whenever we review work, I'm always asking, how will people receive this? Did we nail the ask? Having a high level of empathy is key here. "
Aldana Oppizzi's climb through the creative industry could casually be mistaken as a glossy exaggeration. But in this case the story is fact, not fiction, and the woman behind it all is keen to take on more. After working side by side with industry institutions, Aldana uprooted from LA to helm creative production at Industrial Color, focusing the team on integration, technology, and applying a sharp eye for nailing the ask. Katie McNeill sat down with her to get it all on paper.
Katie: Hi Aldana! Thanks for taking the time to chat. First, I'm curious about the crazy bone and rock collection on your shelf.
Aldana: Good eye! I found most of the bones and rocks from hiking and exploring with my two German shepherds, Gerdi and Gita. The bone collection specifically is because I make sculptures out of them, which originates from my fascination with how things work - everything from skeletal systems to processes. I try to reverse engineer things all the time, figure out how they’re made or how people and businesses operate. My brain always needs something to look into and figure out. That paired with needing a creative outlet has led to me making these tiny bone sculptures. One of my favorite creations is a delicate skeletal creature I crafted using fish bones I collected at the Salton Sea. It's a whimsical piece that resembles a tiny winged dragon seahorse, and it's part of a series. Definitely need a creative outlet working in production operations!
I’m so glad I asked! Now, can you tell us how you entered this industry?
Photography was always a hobby of mine and I tend to be level 100 whenever I am into something, so I built a darkroom in my laundry room and began pumping out prints on top of the washing machine. At the time I was in Boca Raton, FL and decided to take a trip to NYC with my friend. That trip completely exploded my brain (in a good way) and inspired me to radically change my life and apply to art school. I’m sure you can imagine how excited my latino parents were to find out that I secretly applied to Parsons School of Design, got in, and that I was moving to New York City by myself to pursue a career in photography!
Was Parsons the right choice for you?
Absolutely. Parsons sharpened my eye for design and toughened my skin with those dreaded critique review sessions! I realized right away that I was much better at the business of photography vs being behind the camera, so I shifted my focus to finding my place in the industry. I landed an internship at Women's Wear Daily and from that moment I was hooked on production and the “behind the scenes world” of making shoots happen. My second internship was at Drive In Studios and I became even more obsessed. I was there for nine years and it allowed me to set some deep roots, learn a ton, and connect with super talented people. I worked my way up to become the bookings manager where I really dug my heels into the industry and learned the ropes from great mentors like Tony Moschini and Kip McQueen who are now part of my team here at Industrial Color.
How did you transition to Industrial Color?
At Drive In, I had worked on a massive project for Microsoft, creating thousands of exercise videos for a new app sponsored by Bing. It re-sparked my passion for production and after a few months in the freelance world, I joined Industrial Color as an Account Director in their video department. It was right when photographers were transitioning to directing and I helped them make the leap into digital video. Looking back, it was such a pivotal moment in our industry.
Steve, the founder, asked me to be a part of rebuilding and ressurecting Smashbox Studios in LA. It was a massive undertaking, managing a huge construction project and relaunching their studio operation from the ground up. Talk about being level 100 - I packed up my life and moved west! In the end, I think we created something special and brought back the spirit of Smashbox Studios. What made this experience even more incredible was the team I worked with. It was the collaboration with great people that really took us to the next level and made Smashbox the amazing place that it is today (shoutout to the best team in LA)!
From there we built Industrial Color Studios in DTLA to do ecomm, and the entire thing began to grow. It's amazing how ecomm has evolved over the years - it's not only capturing PDP assets anymore; it's become about elevating those assets and leveraging the shoots to capture additional content that can be used on different channels and social platforms. It was also important for us to figure out how to use tech to control our workflow. We worked with Globaledit to build Globaledit Studio which has become an absolute game changer for ecomm production.
After that experience in LA, what's your plan now that you're back in NYC?
I definitely miss LA, but it’s great to be back at the IC headquarters. We added so many services over the years that it was time to consolidate. My main mission is to run all production as one so it’s a seamless experience for everyone and really streamline the operation. A big part of what drives me is solving people's problems and becoming “a giver of solutions”, and to do it at a level that blows away a clients expectations. Building partnerships and getting to collaborate with great brands is what gives me my mojo every day.
Another key mission is using new tech to be way more effective. IC has historically been a creative tech leader so I’m excited to be able to drive the new wave (no pressure!). Of course that means embracing AI and embarking on the journey of learning about its ability to fuel and enhance our creative processes.
INDUSTRIAL COLOR LA
Off of that, to exceed expectations? you work with a lot of different brands, some of the top, most recognizable brands in the world. How do you recognize excellence when you see it?
You know, excellence is all about going above and beyond expectations, be it the ones we set for ourselves or those set by our clients, and delivering at the highest level possible. It's about giving your all and creating something that not only feels different but also incredibly special and masterful.
You also have to think about concepts like quality and taste because that's also a part of excellence. It's hard because everyone has a different taste level, right? I developed an eye for design, and just good work in general, partly from being a human that ingests content all day long, but also from evaluating the work we create. Whenever we are reviewing work, I'm always asking, how will people receive this? Did we nail the ask or are we not hitting the mark yet? Having a high level of empathy is key here. Being really in tune with who the audience is and how they're going to perceive it. Determining if something's going to be well received by not only the client but also their target audience. We put everything through that filter.
You mentioned mentoring, I really connect with how important that is. What's your approach?
I couldn't agree more about the importance of mentoring. I started my journey as an intern, and it was the guidance and support of a few exceptional people that shaped my career trajectory. As a result, I believe it’s so important to give back to the future leaders of our industry.
Mentoring, in my view, extends beyond teaching technical skills. It's about inspiring individuals, providing them with the tools they need to reach their full potential, and creating an environment where they can thrive. It's a two-way street; by helping others grow and achieve their next level, we build good karma and foster a culture of support and growth.
Thank you, Aldana! Is there anything else you want to share before we wrap?
I'm excited about the future of our industry, the potential of new technologies, and the opportunity to collaborate with exceptional brands. It's an exciting time, and I'm grateful for the chance to be part of a field that’s constantly evolving. Thanks for the chat!