Ray Cabarga Graphic Design & Branding

Santa Cruz, CA

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About this pro

How does your business stand out?

I go the extra mile. Not because I have to, because I want to. I don't want to be bothered doing something adequately. I feel my job is to surpass the competition. I have the aptitude for excellence. I get so engrossed in every job i take on that I usually exceed the clients expectations and I will do the job until it's perfect. If I commit to a budget and realize the project really calls for an extra few days to reach its full potential I will always do it. And my clients appreciate that and they're loyal, they come back and I've even had some offer me more money when I go over budget, but I don't expect that. Oops I shouldn't have told you that! My secret is out! Haha!

What do you enjoy about the work you do?

Making customers happy. It's true, I'm not happy unless my client is thrilled with the work, and I often go above and beyond their expectations. It's not worth doing a job unless it's going to be top notch. It took me a while to get used to clients saying, "Just bang this one out," "just a rough draft is good enough" "Don't put too much into this one, it's just a quick and dirty job." But even a rough comp can be excellent and have a certain flair to it. The jobs I really enjoy are the ones that the client wants to go all out for and make it perfect. When they don't have the budget to do what they want but they are really passionate about it, I'll often put the extra time into giving them what they really want instead of just what they paid for. No one should have to settle. And it always pays off in the long run.
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Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Years in business


Number of employees


Times hired on Thumbtack



6 Reviews
  • Angela R. Dec 10, 2014
    Print Design
    Verified Review
    My experience with Ray has been incredible! He is an excellent addition to JOSEPH'S Toiletries team, and has done an incredible job with the work he has done with us. We are forever grateful to have worked with him and look forward to continuing working together.
  • Michael S. Dec 30, 2013
    Graphic Design
    Verified Review
    Ray Cabarga is a talented and experienced graphic artist. He successfully completed 7 assignments for us , we are planning additional work with him in 2014. Highly recommended.
    Ray C. Feb 10, 2014

    Thank you Mike! It was a great pleasure, and I look forward to assisting you in the future. Ray

  • Kim P. Oct 26, 2013
    Logo Design
    Verified Review
    Ray was great! He worked with me on pricing, always got back to me timely, gave me multiple logo options and excellent guidance. Turn around time was amazing. He took all of my requests and came up with the PERFECT LOGO! I won't use anyone else for any other graphic art needs. ..and neither should you! $ workable, great turnaround, excellent guidance...what more do you want? Oh yea, and he's really a nice guy! :)
    Ray C. Feb 10, 2014

    Thanks Kim! It was a fun project and I agree, together we did come up with the perfect logo. It's going in my portfolio in fact! Ray

  • Lisa R. Oct 13, 2013
    I have had business cards and flyers made for my music business. Ray is professional and intuitive while bridging his creative vein with your realistic and artistic needs. He has always exceeded my expectations.
    Ray C. Feb 10, 2014

    Thank you Lisa! Exceeding your expectations is the least I can do for one of my favorite long standing clients. Ray

  • Lighter C. Sep 25, 2013
    Graphic Design
    Verified Review
    Ray Cabarga has done lot of work for me and it has improved my business. His writing, illustration and design skills are excellent. I highly recommend his service.
    Ray C. Feb 10, 2014

    Thanks Lighter, Not sure why it says "offsite review," I think you were my first thumbtack client and I've been working for you ever since. Ray

  • Lawrence N. Sep 24, 2013
    Graphic Design
    Verified Review
    Fantastic work, needed a very special job done in a short peperiod of time. Ray handled it well saved the project.
    Ray C. Feb 10, 2014

    Thank you Lawrence, the pleasure was all mine! Ray


What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I peruse the trade journals and look for articles pertaining to my business. Keeping my programs updated tends to help because I maintain a thorough knowledge of the features as they are revised, added, or updated. I also like to check out my competitors work and when I see them doing something I haven't tried, a new technique or what have you, I'll figure out how they did it and somewhere down the line I'll have a use for it. Usually I come up with the new method before they do though, haha. When you spend as many hours doing this stuff as I do each day you don't miss too much. There's always more to learn though.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
It's the family business. My dad was an art director for several major ad firms for 45 years. My older brother is an accomplished commercial artist. I had a good career as a studio musician but always did art on the side till age 25 when there was a lot more demand for artists than there was for trumpeters. The problem with being a musician is you have to hang out with musicians, haha! Funny thing is when I was 6 thru 12 you couldn't pry me away from my desk where I would spend long hours drawing detailed renderings of everything from architectural elevations to auto parts—I did that for fun! It was as though I was just waiting for them to invent the computer. I was a strange kid, I know.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I have a varied clientele, but lately I've been doing a lot of branding, event branding, corporate or small business. Cd cover designs, digipaks. Kiosk graphics and product packaging. illustrations for everything from t-shirts to technical spec drawings. I'd like to do more childrens book illustrations, and I also build things. Miniatures are my strength because I don't have the strength to build big things. A bit of everything. No monuments, nothing gargantuan.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
I do subcontract work for a candy store in Hollywood and they asked me to do a portrait of Eminem (the recording artist) made out of M&Ms! I ended up building a 4 foot square likeness using almost ten thousand M&Ms in 18 of the available colors. It's a huge attraction for the store and it's on display now at "Sweet!" in the Kodak Center right between Graumann's Chinese Theatre and the Hard Rock Cafe. Recently they shot a segment of the Jimmy Kimmel Show at the store. With two days notice I assembled a 27" by 40" portrait of Kimmel out of Jelly Belly jelly beans. It actually appeared on TV too!
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Leave your worries behind and let's get to work. Tell me everything I need to know to do your job and know you're in good hands. Don't be afraid to ask me for advice on a concept or approach. Ive been doing this for many years and chances are I can help you in ways you never expected. And I'm happy to do so. I really enjoy my work and love making my clients happy. And they always are. It's one thing to get the job done but when I can provide that extra bit of service that makes them more successful. That's what it's all about for me.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
They would do well to realize that when you hire an artist like me you don't have to tell him how to approach your job or what steps to take. That is my expertise: knowing the best way to approach the work to get the best results at the best price. If you call a plumber to fix your sink you wouldn't tell him to tear out this wall to get to these pipes and vent that drain etc. etc. You'd let him use his experience, training, skill, and intuition to determine the right course of action. With an artist it is a fine line because we all have a bit of the creative muse in us, and it looks like fun to do what I do. Well it is, but it also takes years of hard work to make it look so easy. I will do a job and the client gets so excited about it that he starts changing it. He's inspired, can you blame him? But a design is a delicate balance of elements and if you move one of those elements, the whole thing changes. They don't realize it's not as easy as it looks. I've had clients go through a whole series of revisions and wind up right back with what I gave them in the first place. And they think it was all them! haha! I never tell 'em. They always figure it out eventually, anyway. But the point is they're learning and having a great time, why spoil their fun? Everybody should have a chance to be an artist at least once in their life.