Edu exudes a charm and confidence in his speech that captures you almost immediately. “I’m Eduardo. I’m from San Sebastian, which people say is the most beautiful city in Spain,” he says with a smile, “I’m not saying it is or it isn’t, but I’m saying that many people say it is.”
Edu reminisces over his childhood, explaining how the home he grew up in fostered his creative nature. His parents were very creative, his mother as a painter and his father as DIYer and doctor and although they could always afford the latest toys, they often would build things and encourage Edu to do the same.
“I do the same thing now with my daughter,” Edu says, “I sent my parents pictures of some furniture I built for her the other day, and my father said ‘Well it all started with me when I created a library. I didn’t even have a saw, I used a breadknife to cut the wood.’”
Despite his apparent fondness for his original home, Edu explains that he moved to Madrid in order to pursue a master’s degree in Creativity and Communications.
“I wanted to move to the big leagues, that’s why I moved to Madrid. I did most of my career there, and that’s where I eventually met Pilu.”
Edu and Pilu Photo Credit Kevin Oh
The two met in 2008 while working at the same office and had just begun their relationship when Edu decided to move to New York City.
“I always loved the idea of moving to New York, because it’s the city of the world. You know what Frank Sinatra sang, ‘If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.’ So I said to myself, ‘Let’s try.’”
In NYC Edu worked happily for 3 months, although it wasn’t without its difficulties considering he had just started a relationship back home. Still, when he returned to Spain, he had an altered perspective of what he wanted in life.
“I loved the experience of working abroad. When I came back home, I didn’t have a job or a place to stay. I started living with Pilu in her apartment before we got one of our own. It was a difficult year because I didn’t have work, so I tried to do some other projects.”
Edu explained that it was during this time that he started his own business with a friend of his. The two were interested in advertising, but decided to take a more unconventional, guerrilla approach when it came to promoting their brand.
"I love experimental advertising. We tried to investigate more street marketing solutions. We started in a pirate way, doing little actions in the streets without asking permission to raise our profile. One of the actions that we did got some attention in the news.”
Before long Edu’s company had gained some recognition and garnered a few projects. After raising his profile, Edu settled into a new position as an Associate Creative Director at an agency in Madrid. His life was once again comfortable and settled, but just as Pilu said in her first interview with us, Edu preferred a life of adventure to a life of comfort.
“I had that seed planted in myself for wanting something abroad. So we decided to look for something outside Spain. I even applied to a job in Qatar, without knowing anything about Qatar.”
A friend informed Edu that a company was looking for new talent at their Chicago office. Edu leapt at the chance and began an arduous 6-month process of interviews via Skype. At the end, he was offered a ticket to Chicago to come for the final in-person interview.
“I said of course, if I don’t get the job at least I can see the city.”
In the end, Edu was offered the job. The company covered his cost of transport and furnished him with an apartment for a month in order to give him time to find his own accommodation. Within the first week, Edu had settled on an apartment, which is still the very same one he, Pilu, and their daughter Matilda still reside.
“What really made me decide on the one we have now was watching the train go by. It’s a beautiful thing to see; it’s like in the movies.”
Though Edu quickly fell in love with the city and started developing his own social circles, he confessed to us that he still had some apprehension during the initial transition.
“I felt nervous because it was starting over again. You have to prove to yourself again that you can do it.”
He missed the familiarity of his native Spain, especially the sense of camaraderie he felt among his old colleagues. He missed the daily ritual of going out for a beer with his coworkers after a long day of work. Nevertheless, Edu’s gregarious and affable nature won out and before long he was making new connections and integrating into the Chicago lifestyle.
"You feel more anonymous here. It’s an inner sentiment that I feel more free, and not in the way that it’s the ‘land of the free or anything like that’ but in Spain for example I would never leave the house without brushing my hair. Here I just put a cap on and I could be ready to go.”
Edu notes that he manages to find joy living abroad due to his ability to appreciate and see value in small victories. Since nearly everything he does in the United States is done in a second language, he feels a sense of pride in his own achievements, no matter how minimal they might seem.
“You have to appreciate those little moments in the day when you achieve something and it can be something as simple as getting the coffee you want, especially with the names of the coffee here.”
Since Edu came to the country as an adult, he noted that it was a bit more difficult to form friendships at first, as people tend to become more reserved as they get older. He realized that if he didn’t open up, he was going to stay alone. Now, he has a host of friends from all over the world whom he considers to be as close to him as a family.
“You have to leave your family and friends behind. You have to start over. You create a new family here, without forgetting the one you had.”
For Edu, this is especially true, as it was in the United States that he became a father. He says that every day his wife and his daughter are teaching him to be a better person.
“I’ve learned a lot from Matilda, my daughter,” Edu says, “Seeing her laugh every day makes me think she’s the best thing in my life. Before I used to want to stay out with colleagues after work, now I want to rush home just to be with her.”
Edu and Matilda
Edu and Pilu are now approaching their sixth year in Chicago. In that time, Edu has moved to another company and has begun engaging in a number of side projects. A born creative, Edu has designed a snow graffiti ad campaign, produced a series of videos exploring the idea of human curiosity, and has also delved into the world of woodworking.
“Pilu actually bought me a jigsaw as a gift and now I use it all the time. I’m doing little wooden sculptures, mostly. I even had one picked to be in a show in Hong Kong.”
With all his side projects, it’s a wonder where Edu gets all his energy. He pointed to his family and friends as his primary sources of inspiration. Not only do Pilu and Matilda push him to be better, but the multicultural environment of Chicago has instilled in him a sense of kinship and unity. He tells us that the world is big enough to have many awesome places, and making new relationships is one of his greatest joys in life.
Chicago Latino Film Festival
Creative Director: Eduardo Vea Keating
Film Maker: Ben Derico