Fabiano Souza, Senior Product Designer
Category is: Pride extravaganza! To celebrate Pride Month, we're excited to present a special series of In the Spotlight to highlight some of our LGBTQQIA+ creators and the community. Today's headliner is Fabiano Souza, Senior Product Designer for the Podcast team in Stockholm. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!
Questions & Answers
Why are you a designer?
Since I was a little kid I loved to draw. I remember never asking for toys to play, I'd always preferred comic books and activity magazines. My parents would buy them for me every week or so, and that influenced me a lot. I guess you can say I'm part of the creative-kid-becomes-a-designer cliché, but it wasn't that easy. When I finished high school, I wasn't sure about what I wanted to do—I just knew I wanted to create. In my hometown, the design course just didn't exist, and my parents didn't have the resources to send me away to study, so I started studying advertising instead. But through work, from selling mobile subscriptions to illustrating catholic books, I made my way into design.
What motivates me to design is basically people. I love the idea of applying creativity into making people's lives easier and solving problems that can really make a difference to them. It's just a joy to be able to use what makes me happy to make others happy too.
Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."
I collaborate with some brilliant folks from the most diverse cultures and backgrounds—from Sweden, London, and New York—to connect people with creators on Spotify in ways they don't expect or haven't imagined yet, whether they're there to be inspired, entertained, or just for fun. All of this through the magic of audio.
Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.
This is my WFH setup, a.k.a my bedroom desk. It's a crazy feeling to think that what I create in my bedroom is gonna be used by millions of people, so I try to make it look as professional as I can—but with a fun twist, because why not?
Monitor. I love having a bigger screen. When I only use my laptop I feel trapped and I can't concentrate. I usually open my laptop only when I'm in meetings where I need to turn my camera on.
iPad Pro. That was a gift from my husband to encourage me to draw more. Illustrating is my passion, my hobby, and my night job. I illustrate on Procreate and use that to sketch when we have remote workshops too.
Animal Crossing Amiibos. To be honest, I've never played Animal Crossing, but I found these figures in a store in Ireland (where I've lived for a while in the past) and thought it was cute and it would look cool on my desk.
My phones. As I design for both iOS and Android, I have two devices—one being my personal phone—to test every new feature we create before it reaches your phone too.
Monopoly Dublin Edition. I'm very bad at playing Monopoly, but this was actually a goodbye souvenir. When I was moving out of Dublin, I wanted to bring something with me, and this was perfect. It's also a nice coincidence that you can see the apartment I used to live in printed on the board.
Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.
I guess this one is not very specific and it's nowhere near beaten, but I have to say designing for podcasts—my current job. Designing for a quite new audio format for an app that was initially thought and shaped around music is a daily, big challenge.
Music and podcasts are very different: while you don't need to think too much to listen to music, and it goes with basically any vibe and activity, podcasts require more brain investment—yet both formats live in the same space. This dynamic makes us designers strive to create an experience that suits such different behavior and consumption patterns at the same time. Besides that, most features we created for podcasts were something new for Spotify, for our users, and for us as designers. Our work involves a lot of exploration in the team to make sure that things we want to make work in the Spotify system, a lot of testing, and a lot of tweaking after shipping.
Spotify is becoming more and more an audio platform. And it makes me so damn proud to see I've been part of that!
Name three non-designers you feel inspired by when designing.
Christine (& the Queens)
I absolutely love her style and her bravery. Apart from being an absolute Queer icon, I love how she speaks her soul through her lyrics—I just connect to her songs in a very special way. The movie she made for her last EP, La Vita Nuova, is a work of art. I listen to her songs almost every morning when I open Figma.
This will sound funny, but will also speak up for my nerdy side. Every time I'm working on something complex that requires me to work with different teams across Spotify, I like to imagine how Kevin Feige would do it if they were Marvel Movies. I find the way he connected different movies along 10 years and ended up with a masterpiece that is Avengers Endgame to be really, really impressive.
Tarsila do Amaral
I might be cheating a little bit here, but Tarsila is someone I can't miss on my list. She was a Brazilian painter and played an important role in bringing modernism to Brazil. She used references and aesthetics from international movements to paint the Brazilian culture. Her style and Brazillian pride strongly influence me as an illustrator and designer.
What would your self-portrait look like?
Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?
First of all, Happy Pride! 🏳️🌈
A shout to all the Queer creators out there, who are using their talent to create and their voices to speak up for themselves and for our brothers and sisters. We're living a crazy moment and we need to love and protect each other, especially the most vulnerable ones. May we never forget that we owe a lot to trans women of color and that #BlackLivesMatter!
Also, shout out to my family and friends, and to my gorgeous husband, Elton, who's my best fan, friend, and supporter, and who helps me to be a better human every day. And to Bento, our dog child.
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