Meet The Spider AF Team, Adolfo Ferreira

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Welcome back to our 'Meet the Spider AF Team' series! This time, we're showcasing one of our top designers who stays up late every night worrying about our user journey and brand, Adolfo. Read all about Adolfo, his role at Spider AF, and what makes him a valued member of our team.
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Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I was born in 1984 in Caldas da Rainha. A mid-sized city (central Portugal) founded in 1484 and only 1 hour away from Lisbon. I grew up a bit between the city and the beach, since my grandparents had a coffeeshop there and my parents had to help out in the summer, mainly on weekends.

When I was younger I also spent time with my neighbour, who is kind of my older sister.  From a very early age she introduced me to the fine arts and especially to music. That's why at the age of 10 I was already listening to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain was my idol.

Today I say that she was responsible, to a certain extent, for my early interest in music and the arts, which at the time, of course, I had no notion of. I think that this experience left a seed in me that blossomed later and led me to follow this path and this career that I follow today.

What inspired you to pursue a career in your field?

Well, I mentioned above a person who passed on to me an interest in music and fine arts when I was still young, and I think that was really where the seed was sown for me to follow this path later on. However, and as funny as it may sound, I initially wanted to be a Sports Teacher, which never happened and my path soon turned to Design and Multimedia.

Mainly, what inspires me the most is the fact that Design is a technical and creative activity oriented by an intention or goal. The aim is to solve a challenge that has an impact on people's day-to-day life since Design is basically everything that surrounds us.

Something that also inspires and challenges me is the fact that a Designer's work doesn't always have an end point. There is a constant evolution and optimization whether it is a website, a product or an app. Creating a good design is not only about placing different elements in a pleasant way , it is also about using text, images and other elements in a thoughtful and aesthetic way.

Can you share a proud moment or accomplishment in Spider AF so far?

If there's one thing I'm proud of, it's looking at what the product was 3 years ago when I joined the company, and looking at what it is now. How it has evolved and where it has gone. It's really great! It's been a great and interesting challenge made possible by fantastic teamwork.

I couldn't be more excited for what is yet to come. To see the evolution and where the product will go from here and it is a privilege to contribute to that.

What’s a fun fact about you that many people may not know?

A fun fact about me... I played roller field hockey from age 8 to 22(?), where I was a goalie. And I played guitar in some punk / hardcore bands. I am also a vegetarian, which I think most of Spider AF know already.

How do you like to spend your weekends or time off?

Well, I usually try to take advantage of the weekends to relax and do things that I normally can't do during the week. I like to wake up early to make the most of the weekend days, and I usually take the opportunity to go for walks with my wife and spend time with family and friends.

I also use the weekends to catch up on some series and movies, play guitar, advance some books I'm reading, or work on some side projects.

I like to work with digital or analog collages, and create posters or even postcards. This kind of work allows me to explore and "extravasate" a bit on a creative level. There are no rules! And sometimes it's nice to be able to step outside the rules we normally have to follow in our daily work as Designers. (editor note - we also had to Google extravasate)

How would you describe the culture at Spider AF?

We have, in my opinion, a very people-focused culture. One that allows and encourages our growth both professionally and personally, and does everything so that we can develop our skills and grow as professionals, whether it's by providing tools that allow us to learn, or by various internal initiatives.

It is also a company that fosters teamwork, as well as promoting an environment of closeness among all members, even though we have such distant time zones between us.

Where is the best place you have visited?

There are a couple of places I could name here. However, I would say that some of my favorite cities are Utrecht (Netherlands), Tokyo (Japan) and Prague (Czech Republic). I have a special fondness and connection for Prague. I lived there for 4 months and was very well received.

In Portugal, besides Lisbon, I really like Porto and Guimarães, both in the north of the country, and Évora, which is in Alentejo.

More recently, two cities that were a big surprise and which I loved visiting were Rome (Italy) and Copenhagen (Denmark).

What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?

So many are the lessons I have already learned and so many are the lessons I have yet to learn. However, two of the lessons that I always keep in mind are that we should always have values such as humility and honesty as our basic foundation. We should always be open and available to criticism, to explore new directions and ideas. Always be hungry for knowledge and constantly challenging ourselves, because this is the only way we can evolve. The Web is constantly evolving and therefore constant learning and training is necessary, otherwise we will be left behind.

Another of the lessons I always keep in mind is that feedback is a crucial part of the design process because it lets us know what is working and what is not working, and how things can be improved. It is feedback that helps us as designers to distance ourselves from our projects. Design tends to be personal at times and as designers we sometimes associate our product with our value as human beings which can sometimes contribute to choices that don't benefit the end users.

Collaboration is a crucial part of our work, so it is very important to keep in mind that it is feedback to our work that helps us improve, and that all feedback is valid and may come to us from many different people and sources.

If you had a podcast who would your first guest be (past or present)

Wow, this question is a bit complicated. From people in design and technology, to music, film and so on, I think the list of people is huge.

One of the people I would invite, we all know his work and what he has created. I am talking about Walt Disney, of course. First of all I would thank him for everything he created and then I would like to have the opportunity to talk to him and ask him certain questions and understand more about his ideas, how he came up with them and was able to develop them and put them into practice.

Another person I would invite would be Aaron James Draplin, an American author and Graphic Designer. Draplin is one of my favorite Designers. He is an inspiration both personally and professionally. But more than for his work, I see him as an inspiration because of his honesty, humility and generosity as a person, which also carries over to his professional side. Above all for using his skills and knowledge as a designer not only for a living but also to help others. As he says, he has created logos in exchange for a good payment, just as he has created logos in exchange for a burrito or a simple "Thank you!".

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