Interview with Designer Diego Tramontin

Diego Tramontin is a super talented designer from Brazil currently working as design lead at Work&Co (probably my favorite design agency). Before that Diego has had the opportunity to work on projects for heavy names like Apple, Chevrolet, Google and many others. He also worked for Globo.com, where many of the best Brazilian designers came from. We had a chance to ask Diego a few questions and here are his answers. I hope you all enjoy it. 

First of all, I would like to thank you for doing this interview, it's an honor for us to present more about you to our readers. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks for having me! I am a designer, I have started my career in Brazil working for companies like Publicis and Huge Inc, responsible for designing solutions for brands like Apple, Google, Chevrolet, Nestle, among others. I have also worked for Globo.com—the largest media company in Latin America—where I was one of the designers in charge of their digital sports products. I currently live in Los Angeles and I am a designer at Work & Co. Previously, I was part of the design team at Jam3, also in Los Angeles.

How did your journey into design start?

I remember that I was 15 when I called a friend to tell him I thought the things he was doing were amazing and that I wanted to learn to code. At the time I had no idea about how each process worked and what exactly his duty was. So, with his encouragement, I began to study to have a better understanding of code. A little later he started a small studio and invited me to follow his routine and learn how everything worked in practice. It was when I started to become more involved in design and found out that it was the career I wanted to follow.

As I already had a good grasp of HTML/CSS, my first full-time job was as a front-end developer for an agency in Belo Horizonte, called Imaginar Design. Around 2008, when Myspace was really popular, the platform allowed almost total customization within the site and that was my main role. The agency became a reference for that type of service and I had the opportunity to work for a lot of Brazilian artists, many of whom even gave up having a website to have a Myspace at the time. When Myspace changed the platform and blocked the code-editing option I decided from then on I would focus only on design and here we are. 

What inspires you?

There are a couple of things that inspire me… music is something that inspires me a lot and can also completely influence my day, I also like to find inspiration in things that are disconnected, paying attention to details in nature, exploring places, chatting and interacting with people, reading books and watching films, series and documentaries. I love industrial design and architecture, 

I like to find out how every detail was planned, and how it could be used for digital product design.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

There's a project that I made during my time at Jam3 that is one of my favorite pieces of work, it is called Alone with me, it is an AI experience we've made in partnership with Spotify in House e The Weeknd.

We've started this project at the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020 and we had to learn how things would work remotely, from footage productions to design and development. The team did an excellent job, everyone worked hard to put together that idea of having a deepfake The Weekend reading the user's listening data from Spotify to deliver something unique for every single fan of the artist. The result was simply impressive, not only for the feedback of the users but also for all the collaboration and team play we've had internally.

Project link:http://alonewithme.ai

What is the one thing you learned at the beginning of your career, that you still go by today?

There is always room for improvement. Going back to my early days as a designer, I remember one of the creative directors—full of energy and enthusiasm—saying that “there is always room to improve any perfect idea", and it changed a few perceptions, not only in my career as a designer but also in my life.

What would you consider the best moment in your career till now? Did you have any 'leap of faith' on the way?

I have a few best moments in my career, but one of the latest ones that I am super proud of was moving to the US to pursue a design career here. Looking back, It was a dream that started more than 7 years ago, a path with a lot of ups and downs, but with hard work and taking the right opportunities that would put me closer and closer to this achievement.

How does your typical day look like?

I really like to follow a routine during weekdays:

  • I love starting my day with music, so I have my morning playlist that has some songs that inspire me.
  • Brew a coffee
  • Read a few pages before turning the computer on
  • Start work session
  • Workout at the end of the day
  • And chill watching something on youtube (music, travel, investments or architecture stuff)

What do you do to enjoy life NOT in the office?

So, I really like disconnecting from the internet to enjoy life... I usually play drums and I am often involved with some music stuff. Hang out with friends and spend a good time with them chatting and having fun. And even though I haven't done it a lot, I really like to do some road trips to explore places, take pictures, and etc.

How does your job as a designer influence your life; do you feel that you see things differently?

Sometimes yes... it's funny, one thing that I observe everywhere is how they have organized the place for people. It's like a design challenge to think in ways that could work better.

Giving an example, it's normal to see several stores with traffic problems, just because they haven’t thought about organizing their lanes for a better flow. Thinking about that kind of thing isn't good only for the people's experiences, but for the business as well (Who watched "The Founder" movie will understand my point about the benefits of organizing the process for a better user experience and consequently increasing the revenue).

What are the top three books you can recommend as must-reads for burgeoning designers?

Well, there are so many good books on the shelf for designers, but let's go with some of the books that helped me in some ways:

  1. Don't make me think, Steeve Krug  (this is great for every digital designer at the beginning of career)
  2. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, Susan M. Weinschenk
  3. Articulating Design Decision, Tom Greever

Tell us five lessons you believe are really important for every Designer.

  1. Be curious and proactive.
  2. Think collaboratively.
  3. Share knowledge with others, you'll get it from them as well.
  4. Take risks, sometimes you'll need it to grow.
  5. Don't be lazy, if you do, someone close to you will take the opportunity.

Do you believe that here in the USA designers are more valued?

That's a good question, going back to 5-7 years ago, I would say yes, but during my past 2 years in Brazil (2018-2019), I could see great opportunities and high demand for good designers.

My personal impression was that companies understood the real impact and the importance of having designers in-house working to improve processes and to think of strategies to reach more clients. And now I believe that this is even more expressive, with the world working remotely without geographic limits.

What’s next for you?

Oh man, I have a ton of plans and goals, but I'll try to make it short... I have recently joined the design team at Work & Co and the plan is to keep doing what I love to do, surrounded by great people/designers. Also, I'll keep doing music stuff in parallel, keep improving and maybe try something bigger related to that in the near future.

Thanks again for your time, please leave a final message for the ones who are starting out on this kind of business.

Thanks for having me! I've been following the blog since the beginning of my career and you've been doing a great job for our industry.

For the ones who are starting in our business, I want to say to believe in yourselves, break the rules, put your heart into everything you do, never stop learning and being curious, share knowledge, surround yourselves with people that inspire you, and last but not least, enjoy the path, life is short, live it well.

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