Uprising in association withThe Immortal Awards

New Talent: Daniela Estevez

London, UK
On quitting accountancy for the world of design – and not looking back

Argentina is well known for its outrageously funny and emotional TV advertising, but Daniela Estevez is one of a growing number of digital designers taking that Buenos Aires creative outlook online. These days she’s based in London as a product designer at Huge, where she’s following her long-standing curiosity about all things UX. But she wasn’t always destined for a life of visual and technical creativity – after leaving high school Daniela studied accountancy for three years. But a life of boring number-crunching was not for her, as LBB’s Addison Capper finds out.

LBB> You were born and raised in Buenos Aires, but now live in London as a product designer at Huge - when did you make the move and what was it about the UK that attracted you?

DE> Since I started working in this industry I’ve been interested in UX. The market in Argentina wasn’t established and ready for the role, so I decided to move to London in around late 2010, where the work is usually more advance and complex and there are more opportunities. It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely the right decision for my career.

LBB> Creatively, how do the two cities differ?

DE> Buenos Aires is wonderful to work in for traditional advertising. It’s a very creative city and the talent there is outstanding. The ads are one of the things I miss the most – yes, even TV ads. There’s usually a very good story behind each and a strong emotional connection with the people of Argentina. It’s truly amazing. The digital world has taken a lot from that, but the budgets to create ground-breaking digital work aren’t that great. 

London is kind of the opposite. There’s more space for experimentation through digital. Because it is so cosmopolitan you need to consider many different cultures. It’s a great challenge for those in UX.

LBB> What inspired you to pursue multimedia art and advertising as a career?

DE> I’ve always been a very ‘techy’ person. I grew up surrounded by computers and when I was 14 I designed and programmed my first website – a sort of photo-blog with a killer guestbook for my friends to sign. It was silly and I only did it for fun. I never thought I could do something like that for a living!

When I finished high school I worked and studied to be an accountant for almost three years, until one day while working I realised that I would have to do that same thing for the rest of my life. I couldn’t do it. I decided to change my career path to something that makes me happy and could never be boring. The mix of art and technology in my chosen career has helped me develop my conceptual thinking and shown me the importance of experimenting with everything you have at the reach of your fingertips.

LBB> Prior to your role in UX, you worked as a visual designer and front end developer, but it wasn't for you. What was missing from those roles that UX has fulfilled?

DE> I wouldn’t say that there was something missing. As a product designer I need to create a lot of prototypes and I wouldn’t be able to do them without being a front end and visual designer. The reason I pursued UX has more to do with the fact that I’m a little bit obsessed with looking at things from another point of view, being more aware of the user and all their interactions with a product. In my ideal world all visual designers and front end developers need to have a strong knowledge of UX and vice versa. I think it is more than important for a UX person to know and understand both disciplines.

LBB> Upon joining Huge, you travelled to New York to attend the Huge UX School. Can you tell me a bit about that and what it involved?

DE> It was such an experience. Huge has a very unique approach to do UX and the fact that I could be there learning from some of the smartest people in the industry gave me something that no other internship or UX course could’ve given me. We were working on real projects, presenting to real clients and working hard for three months. It was the best thing I could’ve done to start in the UX world. Also, do I need to say how awesome New York is?

LBB> How do you feel your global perspective of growing up in Argentina influences your work?

DE> I think I am more aware of certain things when it comes to doing my work than some people who have lived here for their entire life. Sometimes it’s very easy to forget that not all the people in the world have Internet connection, high-speed broadband (or broadband at all), the latest technologies or can buy online. When your work is building products that are used by millions of people it’s important to bear those factors in mind. 

Also, the web industry in Argentina tends to be very informal. You usually need to be a multi-tasking employee (or employer). As a visual designer I coded, sometimes was project manager, did wireframes and back end for a simple CMS. Being able to do all that was something I never really considered to be a skill to remark. It wasn’t until I moved here that I realised how valuable that is.


LBB> Which pieces of work that you've been involved in are you most proud of and why?

DE> I really enjoy working on pitches. It’s so much fun. I like to build prototypes and get my hands in every part of the process I can.  

I’m very proud of the prototypes I produced last year for the Money Super Market UX pitch, which we later won. I also really enjoyed working on visual design and prototypes of the interactions for retailer Fat Face.

LBB> What does 2014 hold for you?

DE> I’m working in a lot of interesting projects - things that are going to be used for millions of people. I hope to get to work on similar things and maybe experimenting a little bit more.

LBB> What do you like to get up to outside of work?

DE> I do a lot of knitting, especially crochet; it helps to clear my mind from work. I also like to travel. It’s one of the perks of moving to Europe form South America. The excitement of living only a two-hour flight away from any big city on the continent never goes away. 

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