Andrea Mata

Andrea Mata — Ueno

Designer based in San Francisco. Specialized in digital design with roots in editorial and graphic design. She loves changing hobbies every once in a while, right now she is into analog photography and salsa dancing.

What led you into design?

Drawing. Since I was a child I loved drawing, I remember how in elementary school I used to draw colored-pen tattoos on my classmates and charge them for it. I even had a catalog so children could choose from my designs. In retrospective, I guess money played a part.

As I was growing up I took oil painting classes, watercolor, acrylics, etc. I spend a lot of time seeing people’s work in DeviantArt and just kept obsessing with it. At one point in high school, a teacher told me I should study Graphic Design, she said I could keep drawing and make a living out of it. I have to say since I graduated I’ve hardly done a couple illustration projects and I don’t draw that much anymore, but I’ve explored many other ways in design and I love what I do now.

What does a typical day look like?

I’m up around 7:30 am, I take a 20-minute walk to the Bart station. I love that walk, my neighborhood is pretty green and walking puts me in a good mood, I choose a solid playlist for the Bart ride and I let it play until I’m in the elevator about to enter the office. I say good morning, grab a cup of coffee, a toast with avocado and sit down around 20 minutes with the people that are having breakfast, it’s usually the same people at the same hour, it feels like a breakfast date.

I go to my desk and check my email and Slack for any signs of urgent tasks to finish, if there is none, I write down the things to do for the day, grab some more coffee and start working.

Lunch starts at 12:00 pm and all the team comes to the tables, we have a food catering service that it’s good and keeps us interested so it’s rare that people go out for lunch. We take a long good hour for eating and chatting, especially since the team has been growing so much, lunch is that time of the day when you get to know the people you don’t work closely to.

I wasn’t really a person that took breaks during the workday until I got to Ueno, and I didn’t know how necessary it was, it can be great for work processes to just take some minutes to do something else, something fun. At the office, there is many ways to have those breaks: video games, ping pong, coffee breaks, and little rooms where you can go and be peaceful.
What I do the rest of the day could be a combination of meeting with clients, internal reviews or just execution, depends on the project. We are all going crazy these days, I can see the steam coming out from everyone’s heads.

What’s your setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

Behance has been my ultimate source of inspiration for years, I discovered the platform right before college and it was my companion through all those years. I can honestly say that the work I saw there made me try harder to achieve better quality in my projects. As I started my career in editorial design that kept being the place where I could find the most interesting work.

When I transitioned into web design I started to search for work in other platforms like Awwwards and FWA. I also constantly review the work of my favorite agencies or designers. I’ve recently installed a plugin for Chrome called Maxi best of, if you don’t know it yet, go ahead and install it. It features websites selected by multiple sources, you get to see more than what’s trendy.

Lastly, Typewolf, it’s just perfect.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

I’ve recently started using Notion. Yes, another productivity app, but hang on in there I’ve had a great experience using it, it’s simple, easy to understand and just fun. Just take a look:

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

My website. It’s sort of old now but it is the one thing I’ve design that I keep liking no matter how much time passes by. I tend to think that all of my old work could have been better but I’m just happy with what I accomplished with my site. It also gave me a job, Ueno contacted me because they saw it somewhere on the internet so it must be somehow good.

This is a very interesting time for me, as all of you know, sometimes projects take their time to launch and clients want to keep them as a secret until they do, that’s the scenario of all projects I’ve done for the last year and a half, but hang tight, hopefully any time next week you’ll be able to see in my Dribbble or in Ueno’s website something very special we’ve been cooking for a while.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

Adapting. Working in an agency comes with a new set up for every project: different timelines, teammates, and clients. For every project, you need to build a trusting relationship with your clients, understand the project needs and very frequently adapt to their ways of communication. In the last year and a half that I’ve been at Ueno, I’ve learned to use 3 new software and started using about 5 different communication and project management apps. Not because we use all of them in the company but because we need to adapt to our client’s requirements.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

If it makes you uncomfortable it’s making you better. Embrace that annoying feeling of not being an expert on the subject. Get used to asking questions, doing things for the first time, learning new processes, approaches, and people all the time. Be curious and realistic, we are all on the same train no matter how much experience anyone has.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Myself perhaps? You can follow me on Twitter or Dribbble.

Oh, and have you read Ueno’s blog? I truly believe there is some great and hilarious content living in there. Want to learn about copywriting, animation, product design? We’ve got it all. Or if we don’t you can always write to our advice column called Dear Ueno.

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