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A little chat with Eva Sánchez

Eva Sánchez is a UX/UI digital designer based in Barcelona. She started her career studying graphic design in Tenerife and working in advertising. Shortly after she moved to Madrid where she worked and studied, and it was there where her passion for web design started. In 2019, she arrived in Barcelona to exclusively work as a digital designer, joining renowned design studios such as Vasava and Toormix. 

As a creative and curious person, she started sharing my explorations and concepts in her social networks as well as creating her web portfolio, which allowed her to win several awards, including an Honorable Mention and being part of the jury in Awwwards, an international community of creatives in the digital sphere. 

From here her work began to be recognized and she started to collaborate with other independent studios such as Fuego Camina Conmigo, Rebeka Arce Studio or Réplica Studio, among others. She also currently work at Jam3, an international agency dedicated exclusively to design focused on digital experience and innovation.  

A little about your design process…

Fido: What does your design process look like? 

Eva Sánchez: My creative process is very much influenced by my inspirations in the world of graphic design. When I start a project, there is a phase of inspiration and references that I actually started a long time ago. I’m constantly archiving visual references, on my IG or Savee, which continually keep me stimulated. 

This is followed by a concept exploration phase. With the brief and the references, my head starts to connect concepts and I start working on them to see a bit of look and feel in some elements of the UI and the whole website. From here, I move on to a more conventional wireframes phase and with all the structure already confirmed, I work on the UI in all the screens. I also make prototypes to visualize and validate some interactions with the client. Finally, in development, I follow up and review the project with the coder to ensure that what has been designed is reflected in the code. 

Some projects do not follow these phases in a linear way, but they are skipped or intercalated phases, as needed. 

Fido: Do you have a design process and use/adapt it in every project?

Eva Sánchez: Shortly after I started leading freelance projects, I realized that a key part of this job is the organization and time management (something I’ve always been good at and I’ve been able to get a lot out of it).  So, I do have a very similar process from one project to another, but only in terms of management, as this allows me to create a more comfortable and fluid workflow, both for the client and for me. Of course, each project is different, as well as each client. Despite, for example, doing many portfolio projects, the phase of exploration and references always changes, there are always new needs and I take the opportunity to find and propose new solutions. 

Fido: How much do you enjoy this part of your work?

I would say that of my process, the part I enjoy the most is the search for references and exploration of concepts. It’s the moment when you want to go far, do something new, test yourself… you feel really good, very capable and eager to challenge yourself.

Eva Sánchez: Then, it is when a more limiting reality usually arrives (as a client, timing, budget or all at once) and your aspirations may be more limited… but it is important to keep finding the motivation and originality here, not only to get the project done but to keep you excited about what you do.

Fido: Personal projects are part of your design practice?

Eva Sánchez: Always, always and always. I realized this during the first lockdown due to Covid. I had almost just arrived in Barcelona, the covid came and devastated all the companies and, I was not going to be less, I was also one of those people who became unemployed, so I ended up spending the months of confinement working on my personal brand, exploring and looking for my own voice. 

Through design I started to create a visual diary in which I compiled my thoughts, fears and concerns during those hard months, allowing me to discover new ways of visual expression through interface design. Always with a critical tone and continuous questioning of my situation and what I was living, connecting with myself and the context that surrounded me. 

I published all of this on my Instagram (I had never dared to show my work here before). Seeing that people valued what I was doing helped me gain a lot of confidence in myself and my work. Soon after came the recognitions and awards, allowing me to be part of the Awwwards jury, which brought with it many, many new job opportunities and connections with wonderful people in the industry. 

My advice: always do personal projects that move you and encourage you to explore. In fact, now that I have less time to spend on personal projects, I really miss it. I think it’s a wonderful exercise in testing yourself, bettering yourself and overcoming a little bit more of the imposter syndrome.”

Let’s talk business!

Fido: How simple/difficult has it been to create your own studio?

Eva Sánchez: I don’t have a studio, I’ve actually been working full time in studios/agencies and at the same time combining it with freelancing. Unfortunately, I feel that in Spain it’s very risky to work exclusively freelancing or to have your own studio (especially if you are young) and, even though combining two jobs is sometimes exhausting and stressful, I feel that it is worth it. At the moment, I have the peace of mind of a stable job and at the same time, I can choose the freelance projects I’m passionate about.

As I said, it’s not easy and sometimes I feel like giving it all up because I’m so stressed because I’ve overloaded myself with work due to planning mistakes, but I think I’m gradually finding a healthier balance for my mental well-being and my professional fulfillment.

Fido: Do you have a daily routine?

Eva Sánchez: Yep, in fact, I’m a pretty routine person in the mornings and these last few years with covid I’ve found the one that makes me happiest: As soon as I get up, I do 20-30 minutes of exercise, have breakfast and read a couple of pages of a book I’m reading at that moment, the rest is to get ready to leave for the office (to which I like to walk). 

It’s also important for me not to turn on the phone or answer messages until after the first hours of the morning. I’m a person who tends to be very anxious in the mornings and the phone so early in the morning only fuels this problem.

Fido: How do you balance the conflict between the economic aspect and your own requirements on the quality of design?

Eva Sánchez: Fortunately, having a stable job on the one hand, with a payroll, allows me to choose projects that interest me in terms of brief and design, so I don’t usually have this conflict. The only conflict I’ve is work overload, but it’s something I’m learning to balance better over time.

Fido: Do you usually work on weekends?

Eva Sánchez: I avoid it at all possible costs. I prefer to start earlier or finish later during the week but give myself 2 days (or at least one) a week without touching any work at all. Sometimes I don’t manage to do it, but I try to respect my rest time. 

Fido: Do you work in your own office or share a space? How many people work in your team?

Eva Sánchez: I’m currently working in a coworking space in Barcelona (Glashaus). I feel that I need to separate the home and break space from the work space. I know it’s a privilege to be in a shared space, but I think it’s very necessary to be able to differentiate spaces and interact with other people. 

I don’t have a team as itself but in my freelance projects, as they are about web design (and being a web designer is a profession in which you can’t work alone, since for your work to see the light it has to be taken by others), I have my network of trusted collaborators which is the closest thing to a team I could say.

Thoughts about women in the design field

Fido: Do you think there are special challenges for women in the design field?

Eva Sánchez: Of course. The reality is that, despite being “close” to a certain degree of equality in the workplace, there is still a long way to go.

The few years I’ve been working already allowed me to see the difficulty and lack of representation of women or non-binary people in high positions of responsibility. 

I have also, like many, seen my judgment called into question time and time again until a male colleague backs it up or replies...”

However, I think I’ve been quite lucky with the experiences I have had. There are many realities and challenges that shouldn’t  go unnoticed that, as a white cis European woman myself, I haven’t had to face and, consequently, are battles that I don’t have in my day to day life.

Fido: What do you think about positive discrimination?

Eva Sánchez: This is complicated. There are times when I think it should not be necessary but, unfortunately, we live in a structure and a system that oppresses so much that I think it’s necessary to create, preserve and defend spaces and opportunities exclusively for the most oppressed groups: women, non binari people, trans, ….

Fido: Do you see a lack of female models in design?

Eva Sánchez: The statistics always show that in the creative sector the highest percentage (by far) of students is represented by women, but as you progress in your career and move up in positions of responsibility, this number decreases until it becomes ridiculous and shameful. 

I think this is a very serious sign of things that still need to be solved, such as family reconciliation or the burden of home and family care on women. In addition to this, the invisibility of women designers has been happening throughout history and in the design sphere it wasn’t going to be different. Fortunately, lately the presence of women in conferences and lectures is growing, but I think there’s still a long way to go.

How have things changed post-pandemic?

Fido: Have you been asked to cut your budget even more after the Covid pandemic?

Curiously, the web design sector has been one of the beneficiaries after covid and the only thing it has done is to grow exponentially since the first lockdown. Since then, not only I have no lack of work but I have to turn down offers.

Regarding budget, in Spain sadly the price of the designer’s work is not sufficiently well valued and, consequently, it’s not well paid or it is considered “expensive”. Here it doesn’t matter the industry, but I recognize that because of my job I’m luckier than other fellow designers in Spain and I can get better budgets than a graphic designer, for example.

Fido: How did your work develop during the six last months?

Eva Sánchez: They have been quite intense because they have coincided several projects (professional and personal, from recording a web design training to a move) that have made me very excited and I have enjoyed doing but that have consumed me a lot of energy and have left me exhausted. However, I think it has been worth it and it will be very satisfying for my professional and personal future.

A little about you.

Fido: What is your background?

Eva Sánchez: I’m from Tenerife, where I did my degree in design, but my professional career has led me to live outside my place of origin for quite some time.  So shortly after finishing my studies, I studied and worked for a while in Madrid and for some years now I’ve been living and working in Barcelona.

In addition, my first professional experiences were related to the world of advertising, until I realized that this wasn’t my place. At this point I went back to study, this time in Madrid, some courses in Design Thinking and UX/UI that were a turning point in my career. This course opened me to new ways of understanding design and, above all, new ways of approaching and working in web design, starting another professional path from Barcelona.

Fido: Do you live in a big city or a small one?

Eva Sánchez: I live in Barcelona and, despite coming from such a small place with so many particularities as a Canary Island, I feel quite comfortable in this city

Fido: What are your hobbies?

Eva Sánchez: It may sound very common but after these years of covid what I enjoy most is the outdoors and nature, especially getting close to the sea. I also read a lot. Covid has reconnected me with this hobby that I didn’t know how to incorporate into my daily life and it does me a lot of good.

Fido: If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

Eva Sánchez: Well, maybe civil engineering. When I got my college entrance exam scores, I still didn’t know what to study, and filling out the design degree form was very impulsive, even my family didn’t know. What I had told everyone I would do, and what everyone expected of me, was to do engineering. The best impulse and the best decision without thinking or consulting that I have ever made in my life.

Eva’s life motto: “In the end, nobody knows anything. We are all improvising in life. Have fun”

Eva’s website

Eva’s instagram

*** All the images are property of ©EvaSanchez, you’ll need her explicit permission to reproduce them 🙂

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