Let’s start with how you got to be a designer.
It started with me drawing all the time as a kid. Thankfully, my mom noticed it and from then on she pushed me to explore a lot of different outlets. When it came time for college, it wasn’t clear, even to myself, whether I should go ahead and pursue this creative direction. She was the one that made me confident in being whatever I wanted to be.
My dad on the other hand really wanted me to go to business school and eventually take over his family business, but that was not for me. I continued with my art courses, then got interested in graphic design. Eventually, I joined an Ad agency back home in Florida and from then on I was officially a “designer”.
How was being a designer in Miami?
It was fun. I would drive around Miami and see my work all over the city: on huge billboards, a poster of a concert I’d be at, or even at the mall. I was part of an agency that was mostly working in print and I loved print.
Madeo is mostly focused on digital interactions. How did you go from print in Miami to digital in New York?
I was never unhappy in Miami, but I felt that I needed to get out my comfort zone in print and push myself. My family is very close-knit, so it was hard. I have four siblings and I was the only one who wanted to move that far. I just wanted to transition into user experience design and designing for the web.
So, I moved, took more UX-focused courses, took on more jobs and then joined Madeo. Moving to New York has its challenges, but honestly it’s been worth it. I’ve grown more in these last two years than I have my whole life.
What is it about Madeo or your work today that you would say is different?
There are a few things that are a little bit different. I especially like the mix of roles on the team. I like my work with Alex, as content strategist, and he is within the company and just across my desk. At previous agencies, we’d have to outsource those decisions and would only have a sheet of their guidelines to work with, so the communication was so laborious. At Madeo, I like being able to shoot ideas and questions back and forth and produce something that is much more collaborative.
Another thing about Madeo is how we work with clients, which is very different. When we work with a client, we feel a part of their company or organization. I have a clear role within companies like zkipster and organizations like Innocence Project, so my work there means a lot to me.
What are some of the recent projects that you feel stand out in your work?
There is a lot, but one project I’m particularly proud of is a campaign that is spearheaded by the Innocence Project to tackle the ‘Guilty Plea Problem’ in America. There are so many innocent people that plead guilty to crimes they did not commit, crimes as serious as murder. I worked a lot on how we can help tell the stories of those innocent people, but also communicate the larger problem causing this to happen — and engage people to take actions. I spend a lot of time with these issues and stories and it becomes a very meaningful part of who I am and what I think about.
That said, I am tackling fairly complicated user experience challenges every day for other work that we do in product design and I’m still growing and learning every day through these challenges.
Is UX design what you want to keep getting better at as a designer?
That is one part of it, but I also want to keep learning how to communicate as a designer and how to organize my thoughts in a clearer way. A lot of the time, I feel that I am just puking them out!
The same goes for when I present my work: I’m used to being like, “here, look at it and just understand it”, but I am getting much better at writing things out, step by step and articulating what problems my approach is going to solve. I am also learning how to develop my arguments for why the design solutions I am creating are worth implementing.
So if you’re not behind the screen or in front of paper, what other things do you do that people don’t really get to hear about?
Well, I’m into taxidermy, bones, and crime stories, but surprisingly, I’m also pretty outdoorsy. The two things to cross off my list would be to kayak with whales and to taxidermy a bat!