Product Designer at TIDAL
Jonatan
Castro

Jonatan aligns to the pixel and is currently designing ossom™ products at TIDAL. A lover of tech, sports cars, twisty road and making jokes.

• December 11, 2020

What led you into design?

I really liked technology in general – but I was totally intent on becoming a hacker– writing code, getting into remote systems, break the rules while drinking soda all night and go to sleep at 7 AM. I was even running Linux back in the day (around 1998), when it was really hard to make it work on the average computer.

Thinking back to those days, I spent way more time visually tweaking the system, changing the icons, redesigning the UI and modifying the colors. I forgot that I wanted to write code and instead spent countless hours learning how to create realistic shadows and convincing perspectives. Subconsciously, I was trying to create a better visual experience, a better product. It was never my plan, but later become my hobby and now it’s my job. Fin.

What does a typical day look like?

I wake up at around 8 AM, have a coffee and then walk my 3 beautiful dogs. I work from home, so my day starts as soon as I sit at my desk. Sometimes, I have to do some work calls or sync with the team, but usually my schedule is mostly clear and I'm ready to push some pixels.

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At 2 PM, I will have lunch with my girlfriend if she’s at home and we'll walk the dogs together. When we come back home, I continue for a few more hours.

After having a quick break and some snacks, I will put my head down into my other business, hobbies or I'll go to the gym to release some stress.

At around 9 PM, we'll have dinner and watch some shows or YouTube videos. We go to sleep at around 11:30 PM, but most of the time, I end up falling asleep at around 2 AM.

What’s your workstation setup?

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Where do you go to get inspired?

I love to look at top experts from other fields. I specially find modern architecture, interior design and industrial design a fascinating topic.

Unexpectedly, I find inspiration from my surroundings, when listening to music, reading books, looking for new typefaces, testing apps, watching videos, etc. Inspiration is truly everywhere.

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Aside from the usual suspects like Twitter, Dribbble, Behance or Pinterest, I also like to take a look at Minimalissimo which sometimes features cool and minimal products. I also like a YouTube channel called “Never too small” that features tiny places with usually very nice interior design.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

I was researching how to build a new PC and found this beautiful case called Circle Pro. Looks extremely well made and I would love to have it on my desk.

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What pieces of work are you most proud of?

It’s hard to be proud of something when you often suffer from Imposter Syndrome. However, I do believe some of my old work has aged quite well over the years, which leads me to think that there’s some well thought out details in them.

Flight Card (Designed & Released 2011) – This was our first serious project I did with my friend Fernando Torcelly. Flight Card is a flight tracking application focused on simplicity and we used a real boarding pass metaphor as the main idea for the UI. Eight years later, it still looks relevant.

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Cloudcast (Designed 2014 & Never Released) – After Apple released the extremely huge iPhone 6 Plus models, we (Fernando and I) tried to create a podcast player app where the majority of its interactions could be performed with one hand and using only gestures.

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Covers (Designed 2016 & Released 2016) – This was a super simple app to listen to covers people will post on YouTube. You will search for a song, and it will only play the audio.

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Over the years, I’ve also made some icons for clients and icon packs with the intention to be released, even if that never happened.

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What design challenges do you face at your company?

At TIDAL, we design for millions of users who use a variety of different platforms and devices. Building a design system that works for all these scenarios while keeping the native connection on each of them is definitely one of the biggest challenges we’re facing right now.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Find what sparks a light in you, and build confidence by doing. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Work on your dreams but remember to build your life, not your resume. Be curious. Stay humble.

Reach out to people, ask how they think, how they do things. Show your work, make mistakes. Don’t let perfectionism kill your creativity. Don’t wait for the perfect shot, it’s not going to happen.
You will become a better designer by becoming a better version of yourself. Invest time in your wellbeing, take breaks, have fun, create experiences.

Over the years, I’ve heard so many quotes and tons of valuable advice, but one from Ira Glass in particular will be stuck in my mind forever. I wish I found this when I started my design career 10 years ago.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” — Ira Glass

Anything you want to promote or plug?

You can follow me on Twitter and Dribbble or look at more of my work at my studio’s website, Midtone Design.