My name is Armando; I was born in the Republic of El Salvador in Central America. I belong to a large family of seven sisters and four brothers all descendants of Dr. Armando Rodriguez Muñoz Sr.
I had one of those childhoods that few in El Salvador can say they enjoyed when peace reigned there and we could walk the streets without fearing that something bad could happen to us. However, in the late 70’s and 80’s all hell broke loose and violence, crime, and terror changed the character of our society and brought an end to our happy experiences.
In late 1980 I graduated from High School and emigrated to Scotland in search of a safe haven and a new start in life.
Life in Scotland
My new home, och aye!
I was now 16 and mom and I became the best friends ever! That was a wonderful experience and would not have been possible in the busy life of a city in El Salvador. We arrived in Scotland and wow! it was November – you know, the good old days when November meant freezing temperatures! And we had just left the really warm temperatures of El Salvador’s tropical climate…………man! it was like walking naked in a freezer! ha ha! It was here that I met my step-father, Laird Murdoch John Smith Mackenzie (from Nairn), a man whom one can only describe as golden-hearted, a man who loved life and the world without prejudice. To my surprise his talent was music. He could play anything from the penny whistle to the guitar but also my favorite instrument, the violin -- and wow! he played it with such feeling! It was magnificent!
My English was not good and I couldn’t understand a thing unless it was written down. Everyone spoke with different accents and it was hard to understand. Furthermore, few people spoke my native language, Spanish. It was at this point that I wished I had paid more attention in class.
By the age of 17, I was more confident in my English and things started to gel as I was able to sustain a good conversation with almost anyone. What did help, was enrolling as a student at Lochaber High School for a year. I was then exposed to all sorts of accents and, being such a good student and keen to participate in class, I was forced to lose the fear that somebody would laugh at me. Once I overcame that fear I was unstoppable.
My first ever job was with Ewan Cameron, the owner of Glen Nevis Farm, Camping, and Caravan sites. By then I had bought my first motorcycle and had fun getting to and from work. Toiling hard on the farm I soon worked up a sweat and was able to wear shorts – no need for endless jumpers and long johns to keep warm!
Later, back in 1982, I became a volunteer Spanish interpreter with the Northern Constabulary. Later in the same year, I got a job as a part-time Spanish teacher at Lochaber High School. This was a good challenge for me and a great opportunity!
I tried getting into university but, hey, there is always college. I am not known for taking “no” for an answer! So I attended Inverness Technical College where I studied Welding and Engineering. It was not my ideal course but it was better than sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. I went through the Careers Office courses like no other! Learning is a passion of mine so I gave 100% commitment to any course they sent me, as one never knows whether one might need that skill in the future.
I had one year unemployed and that was torture for me as I hate not to be busy. Nevertheless, I joined various charitable organizations as a volunteer. That way I got to meet people from all walks of life and to learn about local needs.
My biggest obstacle in furthering my career was my American qualifications which were not recognised in the U.K. Undeterred; I decided in 1984 to prove my worth through my own initiative and created ARBJr Graphics & Translations. By doing this as a sideline and at the same time working in other jobs to subsidise my new venture, I established a good reputation and by the early 90’s I was managing a graphic studio in Fort William, “The Image Factory”. I later left the “Factory” to form a joint venture between my own company and ADCOM UK Ltd. (Advertising Direct Company). Sadly it proved to be an unfruitful partnership and one of which I decided to withdraw. We live and learn – sometimes the hard way!
Today I am still registered as a self-employed/freelance graphic designer and an interpreter/translator for Spanish and English. I also worked part-time as an ICT lecturer at Inverness College from May 1997 to June 2009– and of course, I continue my own studies in a constant search to improve my knowledge and skills. My business is my hobby too and I have a passion for Digital Graphics. I have gained a reputation as PhotoShop Guru and hold a membership in NAPP (the National Association of Photoshop Professionals); ACITP (the Association of Certify IT Professionals)
Well, I’ve had the pleasure of working for both small companies like Treasures of the Earth and for giants such as Warner Brothers. I did graphic work among other things for films such as Braveheart, the Highlander, and Harry Potter. I also worked for Scottish Television on a series called Hamish McBeth. These have been wonderful experiences, giving me the opportunity to meet both famous and not-so-famous people.
Working under my own business name ARBJr Graphics and Translations I am happy with what I have achieved so far but I want more! Above all, I owe it to my parents: my Mum for always being there through thick and thin and for her example and endless good advice; my Dad for his great life-knowledge and for instilling in me a never-say-die attitude.