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Digital Drivers: Christ Vizcarra

Digital Drivers is our new interview section. We'll publish a new interview every Friday. Let's start with Christian Vizcarra a Product Designer from Perú that focuses on interactive experiences and mobile apps.

How would you define design?

Design is everything. I think design is present in absolutely everything we see. From the place where we sit to a laptop. Everything we see, every detail, is crossed by design. I think it is a fundamental part of life.

You are definitely an influencer, how did you get that many followers on Instagram?

It's a long story. I opened my Instagram account on January 2018. I started it because Instagram had blocked my previous account. It's a weird story and I still don't know what happened.

In my previous Instagram I had personal photos, travel photos and 200 followers. One day I decided to try and publish a design project I had worked in because I saw that other accounts were doing it. I wanted to make an ad out of that post to test how that topic worked on Instagram. The next day I was blocked by Instagram. I don't know why but I cannot make ads on Instagram. It seems that Instagram recognizes my first and last name and where I am. I tried everything: I opened a new Facebook account, I opened a new Instagram account, I created a fake Gmail account, everything. It seems that Instagram detects that I am in Peru and that my name is Christian Vizcarra. It's odd. I already tried everything to get out of Instagram's blacklist but I am not succeeding.

After Instagram's block I created a new account and started using it only to publish work. I published case studies and personal projects for almost 5 months every day at the same time. I feel that being constant was key. The content was interesting and this made me gradually earn more and more followers. I did small experiments from 2018 until now with different types of content.

At the beginning I published personal design challenges on a daily basis and afterwards it didn't turn out to be scalable because I had to spend a lot of time every day working on my Instagram content. That's when I started to make a mix. I got into the world of product photography, I bought a camera and started taking photos. I now mix design photos, product photos, projects and tips for designers.

What was the weirdest thing that happened to you because of Instagram?

It has helped me to unlock business opportunities. I used to be on Behance and Dribbble, but I feel that Instagram is more organic. Not only do I have a designer audience but I also have future designers, clients and potential clients. It is very wide and the networking possibilities are high.

The craziest thing was that a Dubai company contacted me thinking that I had a multidisciplinary team. They told me that I had to do the rebranding and create a whole platform to sell airline tickets from different large-scale companies. It was a mix between Airbnb, Despegar and Booking. They needed everything in 3 months. Obviously the time was short for everything that had to be done and also because I didn't actually have any team. I also had other clients so I had to turn down the offer.

In your Instagram bio you've tagged The Design Project, Design Now and Unrise. Do you want to tell a little about each one?

They are ongoing personal projects. I'll describe them in chronological order:

First was The Design Project. It was a project and a criticism that I made towards the works that are published in Dribbble. There is a lot of nice design there but most of the time it doesn't work. So, when I started my professional Instagram I wanted to post things daily but wanted to make a challenge and think different. That's why I decided to work on a challenge where I had to solve a daily problem with design.

I woke up every day and analyzed the previous one. If I had a messy room, if I couldn't find a place to wash clothes, if I wanted to eat meat but I didn't know where they sold meat, I tried to solve everything with design. Posts were relatable and I believe that's why they started following me. I wanted to do it on a large scale. I put together the instagram, put together a website and wrote some posts. The page won some Awwwards prizes and is now in standby but I am making some improvements in the process because I would like it to be like an Inktober but based on everyday problems and design.

Design Now is a project that I am working on with two former co-workers and friends, Daniel Segura, a developer who knows a lot about design, and Rocío Sotomayor, an interface designer. We are creating a design school to teach skills that are needed in the digital world. We are going to start with a UI workshop.

Unrise is a project to create a digital agency. I am creating an identity for this agency. I'd like it to be a space where I can have trusted people and, if a company like the one from Dubai I told you about appears, I accepd the project. They are projects. I am unlocking opportunities and creating products

What is the best of being a freelance?

The freedom. You own your time. I can go to the gym, eat healthy, cook and, if I feel like it, go to the movies. You control your times.

And the worst?

It is a double-edged sword. You need a lot of discipline not to waste your time watching Netflix or doing nothing. It depends on the stage you are in. If you need a lot of money at the end of every month and you have to pay bills and rent and so on, it becomes more and more difficult.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child I wanted to be a builder / scientist. I played a lot with Legos, I liked toys and television a lot and I was very interested in how movies were made. I wanted to do things. Create things. Build my bed, my car, a rocket.

In my head there was like this mandate that said I had to be an engineer. My mom thought I would be an engineer or a doctor because I was doing well in numbers at school and my dad didn't understand how I was going to earn money as a graphic designer. When I began studying, graphic designer was someone who made banners, logos or flyers. But I did not want to be very formal, I wanted to have a career where I did not have to wear a tie and a suit and I am a very stubborn so I pursued that career. Probably, I would have studied industrial design if I had known what it was.

Do you think finishing an undergraduate career helped on your professional path?

Yes. I've studied graphic design here in Peru and then I went to Brazil to study digital design that was more focused on the experience part. I think that if I hadn't studied graphic design then I wouldn't have gone to Brazil and it's a whole chain of things that wouldn't have happened. I feel that to be where I am now I needed to go through the whole process. I wouldn' t change anything.

What is the best thing about working in Peru?

The best thing is that there are many opportunities. When I returned from Brazil I felt that innovation, digital transformation and startups were not so advanced here. That is still real but I feel there is so much to do. There is a lot of potential because it is a culture where people like to get ahead and there are so many things to solve it's inspiring and really interesting.

And the worst?

Everything is in permanent chaos and there are not many people doing crazy things. 3 years ago there were no Meetups. Now, there are starting to arise. There was one Figma Meetup recently, there are some organized by Sketch and I organize the ones by Dribbble. Knowledge is very isolated in North America and Europe and everything is in English. There is a great barrier of knowledge and opportunities for those of us who live in Latin America. The context of Latin America is not the same as in New York or Barcelona, obviously. People there are more digital there and you don't have to worry so much about people not wanting to buy online or put a credit card on a website. There is a different digitalization scale.

Any account of any social network, any media or any book you want to recommend?

I use Instagram a lot. I follow many users. I usually search for UI and UX and follow everyone. I follow the Invision blog and use Twitter a lot too. It is not very common here in Latin America but in other countries they do use Twitter. I also read a lot of Product Hunt and Design News articles, I scroll through Medium a lot and listen to podcasts. As for books, I have all of Austin Kleon's collection. He's very good. I also like Work for money design for love by David Airey. I also watch Amazon videos of those that count all the things you can buy for less than $ 20. There is a lot of information to consume on the Internet.

If you had to take a course about something, what would you do it about?

I really like furniture. I would do a course to know how to make furniture. Specifically of handmade wood furniture.

How do you imagine yourself in 10 years?

I imagine myself having a startup. Or at least having failed when having one. Maybe I am in a large company where I feel comfortable or maybe in a small company where I am with a great team. Changing the world for sure. I will have lived in a country for 2 years and will have returned to Peru. I may have been living in the US or Spain. I will go where the wind takes me.

Any advice for someone who is or wants to be a designer?

Do not stay with the desire to learn. Not everything is in what they teach you at the University. You have to push your boundaries and go for more. What they teach you is the tip of the iceberg. I would also advise you to never lose your curiosity and ask everything you don't understand or don't know. I have been called a question-maker in class but I think that has helped me a lot to learn. Do not think that you are going to ask something silly, just ask because that's why you are there. Finally, if you see that there is something you did not learn or that you are interested in, go to the Internet and look for it, it's all there.

Basically: don't give up. It is a career that never ends. What last year was the most innovative thing today is perhaps obsolete. You have to be reading and updating your knowledge constantly. If I remain without reading, without seeing or without practicing, I know I am running late. Also, do what you like to do, follow what you are passionate about and don't try to compare yourself or be what others want you to be. Everyone has their own rhythm.

Josefina Blattmann
Marketing Strategist
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