What led you into design?
After high school, I considered studying music or art, but choosing just one thing felt too restrictive. Instead I decided on a multimedia program, because it had a mix of everything: music, film, 3D, animation, coding, psychology and design.
Up until that point, I’d only ever used my computer to write stories and play games. As soon as I learned about all the different tools I could use, I jumped into creating as much as I could. No job was too small for me: designing posters for friends, websites for friends of friends, whatever I could get my hands on. That’s how I started as a designer.
What does a typical day look like?
First thing in the morning, I trick myself into waking up by making coffee. While the coffee is brewing, I write out a page of all of my groggy thoughts. This daily exercise helps me focus once I come into the office. At the office, I get my second cup of coffee and review my weekly list before I get down to work.
My typical workday is a mix of meetings, heads-down time, design critiques, ping-pong games and laughter (I like to have fun at work).
Right after work, I like to go for a bike ride or a run to create the context switch that allows me to tackle a personal highlight in the evening. My highlight usually consists of drawing, making music or writing. If I can, I try to squeeze in a little game time (right now I’m still obsessing over Assassin’s Creed Odyssey) right before bed. By 9:30pm, I try to be tucked in with a book.
What’s your workstation setup?
Where do you go to get inspired?
I love to watch films on the big screen, especially ones made outside of North America or classic oldies. Sometimes I just rewatch my favourite ones and try to pay special attention to the photography and art direction. For example, the way that the photography in “ROMA” can tell so much emotion in that movie, or how the use of different angles carries the protagonist in “A fantastic woman” or the beautiful use of color in almost all Pedro Almodovar movies.
I also like to go to museums. There’s always some new perspective to absorb into the unconscious to then remix it into something else. As I live in Toronto, I go to the local ones like AGO, MOCA, and also I like to go to temporary exhibits, for example this month I went to the Toronto Biennial of Art and it made me feel refreshed after.
Another source of inspiration for me is to travel, getting to explore a new city, go to their museums and exhibits. Looking to its architecture and how similar or different some cities are. I have a naive love for buildings, and as a form to slow me down while traveling I like to sit down and draw them. It makes me appreciate them more and look at all the details that otherwise I may overlook.
But as much as I like to consume all the information that I can, I also enjoy getting some quiet time in order to get into a state of mind where I can be inspired when I just let my brain permission to just wonder. My favourites activities to achieve this are going hiking, camping for a couple of days or a simple bike ride or run.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to play with the new fully inclusive Xbox controller. I was amazed by how it looked and felt, and how easy it was to use. I think is one huge step forward in how we think about inclusivity in the design world, the layout is really clean which is a huge plus in this case as it needs to adapt to other several different accessories that people already use in the gaming community in order to play.
The beauty of that is that you don’t have to buy new accessories only compatible with this device, you can use what you already have to enhance your experience as a gamer. I always keep an eye on the video game industry for UX and accessibility inspiration, right now they are really good companies pushing boundaries and testing new ways to make the user feel included and welcomed when they start a new game. And also they made the packaging to be as inclusive as it can be. Seriously, it’s an amazing piece of hardware.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
On a personal note, I’m really proud of a short film I produced alongside a group of friends. We spent days and nights non stop working to get this project out. There was a lot of beer, pizza and game nights involved there, and actually we lived together in the same space during the making of this project.
It made me touch every part of what I love about films, from writing the script, to drawing the storyboards, to creating the characters, to developing the world.
I still smile when I see the little world that we created about a Bunny (named Coneho) trying to save the world from evil.
And in my professional life I’m proud to have helped designed Scotiabank's new mobile app. It was a collaboration between a number of different areas of the bank, including Design, Product, Engineer, Business and more. From the very beginning we were focused on building this experience to be fully accessible and inclusive to everybody. I was fortunate to be part of this project working with an amazing group of people.
You can read more about this here: scotiabank.com/app
What design challenges do you face at your company?
The biggest challenge working at the digital innovation centre for a major bank is balancing all of the different mindsets people have around money in our product design and how to translate that into an experience that won’t create unnecessary anxiety. Money is stressful enough, so frictionless experiences are a must.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
I have two different music moods while designing. If I’m in strategy mode, writing or preparing a presentation, I listen to my Post-Apocalyptic Electronic Wasteland playlist, which includes Schlomo, Plaid, Polymer, Apparat, Moderat, Gold Panda and The comet is coming. If I’m doing more technically-focused design work, then I most frequently listen to James Blake, Baby Metal, Travis Scott, Kevin Garrett, FKA Twigs and Sampha.
Any advice for ambitious designers?
I would recommend designers look for inspiration outside of the digital world. You can learn about design everywhere: books, comics, magazines, films, art, video games, services.
Don’t settle on a single design tool or hardware: try new things frequently.
Be intentional about how you spend your time.
Lastly: Be kind. Practice real empathy. Make an effort to listen to views that are different from yours and understand the meaning behind them. We’re all humans struggling with different things. This will give you a better understanding of human behaviour, and make you a better designer for everybody.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
Pxl.push a photography project about urban x suburban photography by Antonio Fernandez --