From Broadcasting to Socialcasting: Patty Chavarria of Team Infographics

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Chavarria co-founded Team Infographics, now a major player in the sports social media space, in 2012 after a long career in broadcasting. (Image via Patty Chavarria)

Television broadcasts of sporting events are brought to our homes with the help of large production teams of camera operators, producers, on-air talent, and graphic artists. While the operation is significantly scaled down in terms of personnel, social media has begun to mirror both the purpose and the production methods of traditional broadcasting.

A big reason why has been through the skills and expertise of professionals like Patty Chavarria, Art Director of Team Infographics (TI). After nearly two decades in the world of television and broadcasting, Chavarria has taken her talents and knowledge into the social space.

Chavarria began her career in the media at the age of 17 with an internship at El Paso, Texas NBC television affiliate KTSM.

I did everything from studio camera operating to graphics and audio. We used to do commercial production back then in the late 1990’s, reel to reel. So I learned as much as I possibly could about production there.”

In that role, Chavarria grew to utilize her artistic abilities in a full-time role pitching in with the graphics department while earning a degree in graphic design from the University of Texas-El Paso.

“I always had an interest in the arts. I always sort of knew as a young kid that’s where I was going to be headed. When I was offered an internship in broadcasting, it was something that was mainly a school elective. But eventually, I started seeing that I could have a career in broadcast while still working in what I truly had a passion for which was graphics and animation.”

After about three years at KTSM, Chavarria’s skills and versatility earned her a promotion to a newscast director position at the station, which she held for close to four years. Eventually, her love for graphic design and animation drew her to a role as the art director at El Paso’s ABC affiliate KVIA in 2003. She stayed in this role for nearly fourteen years and gained her introduction to the sports world along the way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the broadcasting world, a Chyron is a piece of software that creates on-screen graphics for broadcasts. Gaining extensive experience in utilizing this made Chavarria an asset as a freelancer working with broadcast crews from ESPN and CBS Sports.

“It’s funny: I’m not naturally a sports fanatic, nor did I have a whole lot of sports knowledge before this. What kept bringing me back was the graphics. Every time I was offered a freelance gig, it was for a different sport. At the same time, our company (Fuzzy Red Panda, a creative agency founded by Patty, her husband Gilbert Chavarria, and their partner Joe Centeno) was headed in that direction as well and it almost happened organically.”

“Fuzzy Red Panda was creating graphics packages for the sports world. So it kind of all blended together, and now I’ve become a sports fan and have really had to learn more about sports. Every sport that we work in. Really, I can’t say that I’m a fan of sports and that’s why I ended up here. It’s really I’m a fan of graphics and that’s where I ended up where I am.”  

As Chavarria began to work more and more within the sports world both within broadcasting and with Fuzzy Red Panda, two things began to grow at a rapid pace. The first was her realization in the similarities between producing graphics for a broadcast of an event and covering a sporting event on social media. The second was her sports fandom as a whole.

“Just like how T.V. stations broadcast their games, teams want all their fans on social to follow as up to the minute as possible. So it has become this ‘socialcast’ of events. Something that was important to me as far as remaining in broadcast was the thrill that I got from the immediacy. You have seconds to create a graphic and put it up. So you get this rush of adrenaline creating things up to the minute and making them as fresh as possible. I love that about broadcasting.”

“When we started creating Team Infographics, it wasn’t me moving away from broadcasting, it was just me moving sideways into social casting. I’m still getting that immediacy. I’m still getting that rush of doing what I love. The difference now is someone else now inputting those graphics with my designs or our designs and their content. So it’s still sort of that rush. Because of it, I naturally follow games now and follow teams on social media. I’ve developed this almost love for the game itself because I follow them.”

The Chavarrias took their media production talents into the sports world full-scale in 2012 with the founding of Team Infographics. TI has since found great success in providing college athletic departments and professional sports organizations with the tools to create and distribute high quality digital content at a rapid pace using their own CMS system. Chavarria recalls the first project at TI where she knew the company had struck gold.

“A couple years back, we had approached the LPGA and we offered to do a social cast during one of their tournaments. So we agreed and we were online with them the entire tournament, which was four days straight. It was then that I saw the similarities to broadcasting and I thought to myself that this was not limited to just sports. This could work for any marketing team.”

More recently, Chavarria has devoted herself to Team Infographics full-time. She left her full-time job at KVIA Broadcast in 2014 to help her partners continue to grow their company designing creative packages for the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Flyers, and Duke Blue Devils, to list a few. A follow of those teams on social media shows the level of talent and experience that Chavarria brings to her work. Furthermore, the work itself and working with her clients still brings Chavarria immense satisfaction.

“I think that making the Cowboys’ graphic package has been another one that has really stood out for me. Working with their team and creating something that is going to give them the ability to stand out has been really cool and then hearing the response that they got from it has been really rewarding as well. Sometimes you don’t hear from a client, things get busy, and they just have to go on with the season. But every once in a while, you get a response from a client like we did from the Cowboys where it made a difference in their work and that was really cool to hear.”

“Not to mention my entire family are Cowboys fans so that was exciting.”

Moving forward, Chavarria plans on continuing to help TI reach new heights by tackling the evolving needs of sports creatives.

“We will not stay stagnant. We will continue to innovate. We won’t wait for someone else to come up with something and then we follow. That’s not TI. We’re constantly pushing ourselves to lead and having conversations about where there are other needs. ‘Where else can we provide a solution?’”

“Really, I can’t say that I’m a fan of sports and that’s why I ended up here. It’s really I’m a fan of graphics and that’s where I ended up where I am.”  

Her long career in broadcasting was not something that Chavarria foresaw for her future in her younger days. It did, however, eventually lead her down a path that allowed her to combine her artistic passions with a profitable skill. She encourages all young sports creatives to try their best to find a similar pathway.

“You’ll work different jobs before you find your true career passion. I landed in broadcasting. It wasn’t something that I grew up thinking that I was going to do. I was offered an internship for a grade, and I loved it. It was exciting but it didn’t fulfill every single passion that I had.”

“Find a way to merge things. It doesn’t mean you have to give up one thing for another, but finding a way to merge your initial passion and your new passion is key.”

To follow along with Team Infographics’ growth, visit their website, and follow them on Twitter.

*Team Infographics is a proud partner of Front Office Sports