Meet Luisa, a freelance Product Designer based in Oakland, California. In a new video, Luisa shares how feeling uninspired can actually be useful, why she’d like to make a social impact using design, and how she ended up moving to the San Francisco, Bay Area after making an important connection on Dribbble. Luisa also enjoys dancing Salsa and shares how good design reminds her of a quality Salsa dance! Check it out:
What does design mean to you?
I think that’s kind of an ever-evolving question I ask myself. I guess the longer I’ve done it, the more I realize that there’s a lot more to it than just the final deliverable. The process of understanding what problem a website, or an app, or a digital solution is trying to solve—there’s a lot of work that goes into that before you’re actually sitting down at the computer. In digital design, that’s kind of the design process—how to take maybe a vague idea and give it form, and give it shape, and then eventually turn it into something tangible. I guess the process of design is just like how do you get from that point A to Point B.
Your experience with Dribbble…
I used to work for a startup in Cincinnati. My old boss, James, invited me to Dribbble so that I could post stuff and kind of drum up like a name in design for Roadtrippers. Initially, it was super useful to get references for how to give shape and color, and how to just design things because I didn’t really know what I was doing. So it was a really valuable resource.
And then later, it actually was kind of the reason I ended up moving to San Francisco because I had followed this guy Halli on Dribbble for like two years and just thought his work was amazing and I reached out to him—maybe even through Dribbble. And he got back to me and said he was starting an agency and if I was I interested in talking? So really, I attribute a lot of that initial contact and even the move out here to Dribbble and the connection that it facilitated. I get emails all the time of people looking for freelance designers. It allows me to not really have a formal portfolio, at least as a point of entry. You may not get a chance to show a lot of depth but you can definitely show a lot of breadth and just say, “Hey, I am a capable designer. At least initially, come ask me more questions.”.
What’s your typical day like?
Right now there’s not really a typical day. I’m freelancing and I’m only working part-time. I mean generally, in the mornings I’ll get up and go to a coffee shop nearby and work for a few hours. And then, go to yoga, or go to the gym, grocery shop, cook, hang out with friends, go on a bike ride, read.
Where do you find inspiration?
Almost every morning, I’ll sit down at my desk with my coffee and there’s a list of blogs that I follow. I think inspiration doesn’t generally come from those, but they get me sort of in a focused mindset. It’s how I transition from my sort of personal time in the morning to like “All right I’m working now.” I’m generally a super curious person. I love reading, I listen to a lot of podcasts, I talk to people. I don’t know, there are just these little sparks every day that I guess I think of less as inspiration and more just like that’s the meat of life. That’s what keeps things interesting. So I think I seek out just that kind of connection or kind of new ideas on a consistent basis. I don’t know, it’s just like the way of engaging with the world that kind of keeps things interesting.
I even find that useful sometimes—to feel completely uninspired and bummed out. I need to give myself that time to just get a little low and almost just rest. And then at some point, I’ll be like, “All right, I’ve watched enough Netflix.” and I’ll kind of snap out of it or force myself out of it because I’ve allowed myself. But I need to let myself wallow in it a little bit. I mean, I think to do creative work you need to have some level of sensitivity. With that sensitivity comes you feeling the good and the bad, I would hope. Because If you’re not feeling the bad, you’re probably not feeling good either. If we think of inspiration as tapping into this sort of underlying, I don’t know, people call it super woo woo crunchy things, it can be this flow or this underlying sort of stream of life where you’re not in your head all the time thinking about what you’re doing and not super self-conscious or really self-aware. And you can just kind of relax and tap into that.
To be able to do that you can’t be in this happy really rigid space. You have to be with whatever it is that’s there. And if the thing that’s there is that you’re anxious or depressed, then that’s what’s there. I think to stay inspired you need to also just stay open to whatever is and whatever is here. And so I think a good way to stay inspired is to sort of consistently practice being really honest with yourself and practice being really honest about your life, the way that you’re living it, and what you’re doing and how you live in relationship with other people. Because it helps those roadblocks to not exist in the first place or to clear them if they’re already there.
How would you describe your work?
Right now I do digital Product Design. But I’m definitely interested in getting into a different realm of design—like this whole world of Design Thinking, how it converges with maybe even social impact, international development work. I mean, this whole field that IDEO pioneered. I’m trying to figure out what that looks like in a genuine, meaningful, impactful way that maybe would allow me to make some sort of real contribution.
Being half Mexican and having lived in Latin America for a long time, I’m really interested in how to use my design skills and all of the resources that we have here, and how that can translate into resources or tools for the developing world—but probably Latin America more specifically. We have a lot to learn from the developing world and they have a lot to learn from us. I don’t know how that translates into the world of design but that’s kind of what I’m trying to figure out right now.
What role does design play in your life?
There’s something about well-designed spaces, objects, or experiences where there’s this feeling of synergy or this feeling of things just kind of flowing smoothly and easily. I dance Salsa and so it’s like when my favorite song comes on and I know all the words, I’m dancing with a really good friend, we have great chemistry, and you just dance the whole song. It all flows—it’s fun and smooth and you’re just in it and you’re not thinking about it. And I feel like that’s what good design can create—this feeling of you’re in it and you’re not noticing the little things that are wrong.
I think designers tend to be very critically minded and you know, it’s I think it’s from a good place because it’s from a place of wanting to improve things. But we could probably all stand to chill out a little bit and be ok with the imperfections. For example, the perfect drape of a curtain and how the sun hits that drape that maybe you didn’t place there perfectly. But then you can look at it and appreciate it. And it’s just like this little reminder that there is beauty in everything.