Catalina De Leon Belloc

Featured Interview ~ Catalina De Leon Belloc

Judging an international design competition is no easy task. It takes a special kind of person that is willing to give their time and experience for the betterment of the industry.

It's time to shine a spotlight on these special individuals and dig a little deeper to see what makes them tick. Therefore, on behalf of the CSSDA founders and crew, please enjoy the following interview with one of our esteemed judging panel members.

Time Warp:

1. When and what was your first ever computer? Can you remember the spec?

I believe our first computer was a Commodore VIC-20. I grew up with two pretty geeky older brothers, who are coders nowadays, so my love for computers was inspired by them.

2. When and what was the first website you were involved in designing/developing? Which elements of the project did you do? Can you remember the 'cutting edge' tech used at the time? How did the site turn out and what did this experience teach you?

I actually started working at Indicius as a Project Manager while I was still in college getting my design degree. I was going to handle all communications with our main partner in the US and also work on some small design tasks to help the team. The first project I worked on was a website revamp for a college in Jacksonville, FL, called Edward Waters College. During this project I learned to be very thorough because it was my first and we were dealing with a huge site that required very specific changes throughout tons of pages. To achieve this, I needed to work and communicate with each team member depending on what was needed (design, dev or flash). I remember that the college mascot was a tiger so we had a small flash animation in the home page with the tiger's "roar".

3. Which project has been most rewarding for you over the course of your career and why?

Thanks to our partners at Toi, I had the chance to work on the redesign of two of Peter Thiel's websites: The Thiel Foundation and The Thiel Fellowship. Getting to work for companies that belong to someone you admire is very inspiring.

4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send a 'temporal text' 5 - 10 years into the past?

It would probably be to not stop coding or animating with Adobe After Effect. When I was younger and I freelanced, I used to both design and code entire websites. I don't want to get into the big debate of "if designers should also code". I still believe in the benefits of putting my focus on design, so that my creativity isn't limited by my lack of coding skills. I believe we produce better results by having a design and an experienced front-end developer work together, rather than one person doing everything. However, I'd love to be able to play around with my designs, prototype them and see them come to life.

5. Better still, if you had your own hot tub time machine, what time period would you travel to and why?

I'd go to the future, maybe 100 years from now. I'd love to see what our industry will evolve into.

Favourite Things:

1. What are your favourite aspects about working in design?

To me it's all about the user's experience, it's not just about making something "pretty", but actually usable. UX and design is all around us and I get to play a part in that. I also love that I get to work with different industries every week and learn actually from them.

2. What are your favourite design tools, sites, fonts and resources right now?

If I could marry Sketch, Invision and Slack, I would.

3. What are your favorite devices right now from mobile to desktop?

My 15" retina macbook pro and iPhone 6, two devices I can't live without, of course.

4. Which 3 cities would be your favorite to open an office in and why?

  • Brooklyn: I love New York City, it's inspiring in so many ways! I grew up in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, so I'm attracted to Brooklyn by the fact that it's just a few stations away from the city, yet it's quieter and full of local shops. It's also very time-zone friendly, in relation to our offices in Buenos Aires.
  • San Francisco: there's so much to love about this city and having an office in the heart of Silicon Valley makes a lot of sense when working with startups.
  • Berlin: a capital city of design, I fell in love with it immediately! And I can't leave out a European office.

5. What is your favorite activity outside of work?

Going out with my wife, staying in and watching Louie, having dinner with friends, a good BBQ with my family, playing tennis and poker.

Life Hacks:

1. How do you stay motivated?

By working with partners that share my vision and working with clients or projects that are inspiring. By attending conferences like An Event Apart and learning from our industry gods.

2. Do you have a good life/work balance? Could it be improved? If so how?

Yes, I get to work a lot from home, so that definitely helps, but it's also a challenge. It could always be improved by having a more clear separation of work vs family/personal time.

3. Do you have any career advice for young designers and developers?

Always design & code with the user in mind, no exceptions! Stay up to date with latest trends and technology, but try to add something unique to each of your projects so that it sets it apart from the crowd. Try to attend conferences & meetups, collaborate.

4. How do you keep up with the latest trends & tech?

I'm subscribed to tons of newsletters, so I spend 1 hour a day or some weekend mornings catching up on the latest news of our industry. I also listen to podcasts while I'm jogging or driving.

5. If money was abolished and nobody needed to work anymore, what would you do with your life?

I would travel around the world.

Versus: In your opinion...

1. Are great designers born Vs. made by experience?

20% born, 80% experience.

2. Is the best long term goal to be a founder Vs. freelance Vs. full­time job?


3. iPhone 6s vs Samsung S6 vs other?

I'm one of those Apple evangelists, I can’t help it.

4. Printed book vs eBook?

I love how practical the kindle is when I travel, but I still prefer a printed book.

5. Star Trek vs Star Wars?

I have to confess that I have never seen Star Trek and I just saw Episode IV yesterday! I loved it BTW.

Catalina is founder of The Purple Bunny and Lead Designer at Indicius & Toi. Catalina has been focused on the user's experience for 10+ years.

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