Victoria Ayo, Associate Product Designer
To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is Victoria Ayo, Associate Product Designer for Partner & Platform Experience in New York. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!
Questions & Answers
Why are you a designer?
I would describe myself as a lifelong learner. I love learning new things and about others. In college I was fortunate enough to be introduced to UX and work under some really amazing Black women at my university. They showed me how design could be a tool to understand the world around us and propose alternatives.
I think design is a great way to use creativity and an open mind to not only solve problems but reimagine what’s possible. Not only that, design also provides the framework for making sure those solutions can endure and allow for lasting change
Design gives you permission to dream and think differently and see a different future for yourself and your users.
Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."
I try to come up with creative ways for people to achieve their goals. Right now I’m doing work on an audio platform experience for users. That involves a lot of communication and collaboration with many stakeholders as well as continuous feedback from our users on what’s working and what's not working.
I also dedicate part of my time to supporting our community here at Spotify and making it a safe space for other Black creatives!
Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.
Desk Organizer: I just moved to a new apartment in a completely new Country so my desk setup is very minimal for the moment as I ordered a new desk for myself. I love this organizer because it lets me move from 1 place to another very quickly. It holds all my dongles and chords plus it also doubles as a makeshift standing desk!
My notebook: I start each week with a running list of things I need to get done. The list grows daily but it’s nice to physically check things off. My notebook is also where I sketch mockups and ideas and make many design pros and cons lists!
My tablet: I occasionally use my tablet to take notes — especially during virtual collaboration workshops. I also use it to illustrate and doodle on my days off from work!
Water bottle: Staying hydrated during the day is a must! Especially while working from home!
Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.
Before Spotify, I worked in consulting. We worked on teams with different clients and industries oftentimes having to learn about new industries on the spot. The longest project I had involved a large grocery store client who was trying to get into a new space with a lot of competitors.
I was a UX team of one tasked with the preliminary user research, synthesis, mapping and prototyping a feature that would be used very heavily by many members. All while learning about the complexities of supply chain logistics in e-commerce. Did I mention we were a distributed team with most of the developers based in Chennai? That meant many late nights and very early mornings.
It was a pretty challenging time for me professionally but I can honestly say that I learned so much and grew as a designer, consultant and team member. In the end, we pulled it off and made a product we were very proud of and that millions of users use today.
Tell us about some phenomenal Black designers or a piece of work by Black designers that you love.
Jacob Lawrence: Jacob Lawrence was an illustrator and artist during the 1940s and beyond. He had a very distinctive style of mixing strong visuals and geometric shapes. His work inspired me at a young age because of an assignment we were tasked with in middle school to pick an African American artist and create a piece inspired by their work. I chose Lawrence’s work titled The Migrants Arrived in Great Numbers as part of his series titled The Migration of the Negro. It was the first time I realized the physical power that art and design had on identity.
Thomas Miller: Thomas Miller was a prolific graphic designer and visual artist. Best known for his mosaics which also inspired the 1975 7UP soda packaging. Throughout his career, he created 1000s of art including logos for Motorola and the Peace Corps.
Name three non-designers you feel inspired by when designing.
My Family!: Both immediate and extended: They inspire and surprise me every day in so many ways.
Stacey Abrams: Her work galvanizing voters and combating voter suppression in Georgia, where my family lives really inspired me to also get involved in doing freelance political tech design.
Spike Lee: As an avid film lover and native New Yorker, Spikes’ artistry made a huge impact on me as a child and adolescent. His impact in the film industry has inspired so many Black creatives and provided an avenue for us to see ourselves on screen!
What would your self-portrait look like?
For you, what’s the greatest celebration of Blackness?
For me, the greatest celebration of Blackness is our hair and all the curls, kinks and waves it comes in. I feel like it's such a key part of the Black identity and something that really unifies and defines the Black experience. It lets us express ourselves and who we present ourselves to be individually and unapologetically.
Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?
A huge shout out to my team here in Stockholm who have been so supportive during an international move during a global pandemic. Plus my amazing friends and family back home who I miss so much!
Books I recommend:
Fiction: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Non Fiction: Meaty by Samantha Irby
Science Fiction: Kindred Octavia Butler
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