We’re growing here at Gravitate and we are really excited about the latest member to join the team, Alissa Del Toro. Alissa will provide our clients with highly-engaging designs that break the mold in terms of today’s design standards and still provide a great experience for the user. To help our clients learn more about Alissa, we asked her a few questions (and really enjoyed her answers).
Without further ado, meet Alissa.
Why did you want to move from the east coast to west coast?
Aside from hearing that the west coast is the “best coast” from a lot of Cali friends, I was looking for a change of pace and scenery. I had never been to the west coast and was excited by the idea of making the move.
I was born and raised on the east coast…went to school there, worked my first job out of college in DC — tech consulting for the government nonetheless. To move out here — and to move out here to do design — was the exact opposite of what was expected of me! This combined with learning about Gravitate made it a no-brainer. Why not have a new adventure? I’m young and nomadic anyways so I went for it. I thrive off of venturing into the unknown whether that be in design or in everyday life.
If you could have any pet in the world (fictional or not), what pet would it be? What about realistically?
Abu from Aladdin! He’s a clever fella. Plus, I always wanted a capuchin.
More realistically, I would have a dog. (I like cats but am allergic to them. Although, I have debated getting a naked cat kinda similar to the one seen in Austin Powers.) I love pugs and intend to adopt one in the near future. I actually have been trying hard not to look at pet sites since moving to PNW; I almost bought a frug named Peanut (french bulldog/pug mix) this weekend. She was so cute. <Sigh>.
Favorite food as a child? Favorite food now? Why?
Chicken nuggets from Wendy’s with McDonald’s french fries, and sour punch straws — strawberry as a dessert. That or a salami and cheese sandwich on Cuban bread. I played a lot of sports so had to have quick eats when traveling. (My grandma’s empanadas also were my favorite but my love of fast food trumps it the majority of the time.)
Same as above. Not much has changed! Haha. If anything, I’ve gained more appreciation for the kinds of sandwiches I get back home. If you are from the south, you know about Publix. I crave Publix sandwiches all the time and get that within the first few days of going home to visit family. It’s the bread and meat cuts that make it so delicious; I always get the Italian with a dash a mustard and some oil and vinegar.
Who is your favorite artist? Why?
My list of favorite artists has definitely expanded from back in the day. When I think about what made me love art, I start thinking of Lisa Frank. I don’t know if you’d know it, but her notebooks and pens are definitely where I got the design itch. I loved getting her school supplies, and I guess that has translated into the kind of work I love now such as Yayoi Kusama. I went to Kusama’s show in DC right before coming out to Vancouver, and it was well worth the wait times to get tickets and to get into the infinity rooms! Lisa Frank’s bold use of color, space, and patterns parallels that of Kusama’s obliteration room — to me anyway. (If you want to chat more about it, I’d love to do so.)
If this question refers to music artists then I’d say top 5, at the moment, are the Neighbourhood, 3OH3!, Drake, Party Favor, and Steve Aoki. I bought Spotify Premium for this exact reason. I enjoy a lot of various genres and my list of songs span anywhere from bluegrass to old school hip hop to classical. I’m the kind of gal that uses music to dictate my mood. Subsequently, I will say that I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae infusions lately to get me through the day. It’s mellow and therapeutic as I work through some Sketch files.
Favorite restaurant in New York or Miami?
There is so much good food to choose from since I am a foodie. My most recent new discovery in NYC is 2nd City located in the West Village. A friend of mine is the general manager there, and I went to visit him. I suggest everyone goes check it out; it’s a Filipino taqueria. Sounds enticing? Yes, I know. Super delicious, super quaint, and good vibes only.
What is your vice to get you through a day?
My music! I play everything with my mood or to get me out of a funk. On a crunch, I tend to listen to EDM while bopping and typing. Oh..and a coffee doesn’t hurt either! But, I confess that I do like the fru-fru drinks like a Caramel Macchiato. Sugar helps me more than caffeine during long workdays. 🙂
Favorite TV programs? Sports? Dramas? Comedies? Reality?
I’m a reality TV binge watcher. My friends always get on me about it. Any real housewives episode, or Bravo shows in general, I’m on it. Since I haven’t had cable in some time, I’ve been watching a ridiculous amount of Netflix to compensate. I just finished up both comic series on the site, Marvel’s Agent of Shield and DC’s Legend of Tomorrow. Also, my secret vice is animated tv series like ‘King Julien’ or ‘Phineas and Ferb’ — why? I have no clue, but I love ‘em.
As far as sports go, I’d rather play sports than watch them. I will say that if there is a good football or basketball game on, I’ll get into it. I also really enjoy hockey and soccer. Fun fact: my sports preference is watching the winter Olympics because I get to see mogul skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. I’ll leave that on the entirety of the Olympics and pre-record as whatever I miss during work.
What is your approach to problem-solving?
When in doubt, whiteboard it out. I tend to do a mental brain dump of what I know, what questions I have, and from there decide a plan of attack. I’ll also take to researching for similar problems and how they were resolved to avoid reinventing the wheel. From there, the problem becomes less daunting, and I’ll work through it piece-by-piece to obtain a great (and hopefully a full-solution) end-product.
How do you turn data and ideas into reality?
I spoke a little bit about this in the former question. I turn data and ideas into a design by:
- Understanding the problem or what is to be accomplished
- Researching the intended audience
- Creating a plan of attack and executing it
The hardest part is developing a roadmap to how you can get from the idea to the end-state. Not intentionally using UX terms but….affinity mapping in these cases is the best way to understand the scope, problem, and what path to take. I am a post-it fanatic and tend to use them to visually determine categories, swimlanes, milestones, etc. when it comes to problems I am trying to solve (or to make sure I get everything I need from the grocery store).
What design belief/ideas do you have that others in your role may not agree with?
Hmm…this is a toughie. A controversial belief I have when it comes to design can be summed up with two quotes:
“Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.” – M.C. Escher
“Be remembered. I’d much rather have work loved or hated than not remembered.” – Tim Sutherland.
A belief that I have those other designers may not agree with is my natural affinity to experiment with my designs. I want to break the mold, do the unthinkable, sometimes that means I fail royally but the potential for greatness is right around the corner. With that said, some may not agree with my methods because they may come off as risque but I say “why not”. I’d rather real my designs in than not try and stretch them into new uncharted creative ideas and innovations. I don’t ever want to design something boring. That would be a travesty to me.
What do you want to learn in the next 12 months related to our industry?
It’s hard to summarize all the things I hope to learn in this next year here at Gravitate. Obviously, I plan to grow as a designer (e.g., hone my skills, talents, etc.) but the more important lesson I’d like to learn is: what it means to be a Gravitate-r in the creative space. I’d like to understand our culture, it’s ebb and flows, and from there, I want to foster it and infuse it in the work that I produce for our past/present/future clients. I intend to learn what is defined as the good, bad, and ugly and build upon this knowledge to do awesome things with my lovely team members. I look forward to this first year and am excited to embark on this new adventure. Cheers!