The String and Key Crew: Luis Pedraza

Jasmin H
Jasmin H
Jun 23, 2020 · 6 min read
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As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Luis Ramirez Pedraza.

Company Role: UI Designer

Most likely to: cheer up your day

Secret talent: multilingual (speaks Spanish, French, English, and Italian) / Yogi extraordinaire / Piano player aficionado

Our designer Luis hails from the Mexican city of Xalapa (spelled “Jalapa” by the Spanish), making him, as he points out, a Jalapeño. So how did this spicy pepper end up crafting visual designs in Brooklyn, New York? Leaving his hometown to study visual arts in Mexico City was the first step in a fantastic journey that concluded with him working at String and Key. From living and studying in Lyon, France to volunteering in Quebec, Canada to showcasing art across Mexico, Slovenia, and more, Luis was fully-equipped to become an excellent visual artist long before he started his professional career. Lured in by the digital design world, Luis studied Interactive Web Design and switched tracks. He has since worked on countless digital marketing campaigns for major international brands such as Pringles, Mattel, Starbucks, and Vans Off the Wall, among many others. With destiny in his favor, Luis found himself called to String and Key when he was contacted by our team while coincidentally vacationing in NYC. Accepting the job offer, he packed up his bags and has been thriving in Brooklyn ever since. Read on to learn more about our super-talented UI designer.

What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
The opportunity to build a digital product from scratch. Up until this point in my career, I’d only ever worked on temporary marketing campaigns with lifespans of one to three months. You’d put a lot of love and care into a project only for it to be done, leaving you to move on to the next idea. Now, I have the opportunity to commit to one thing for a while, which is perfect as I love creating, maintaining, and improving one live product, continuously. I like to crystalize my efforts on a service that will remain useful and valuable for people in the longer run — it’s rewarding. Also, my co-workers possess a lot of wonderful traits. We have a kind, friendly, diverse, and multidisciplinary team — and they’re all super talented!

What does your typical workday look like?
Each day starts with a creative team stand-up meeting where we look at current projects and deliverables. From there, I’ll work on some user interface design and composing screens for mobile and web apps. I’ll also get my hands into some visual branding, this includes logo and icon design and graphic animations. There’s always collaboration with the team throughout the day as we brainstorm concepts and names, work on experiments, review user tests and results, and more.

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What excites you about your job?
String and Key is experimental. We continuously run user-experience tests or conduct user research to prove or disprove our theories. Both the strategy and creative teams are always refining our choices based on what our target audience needs. This keeps our products relevant and valuable. I also love that we’re essentially creating a full brand and service from scratch — it’ll be exciting to see it grow and take off. Additionally, each step of the process is different, which means I get to work on diverse assignments and sometimes even dip my toes into some UX design. This keeps my days interesting and also allows me to keep my mind fresh.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
UI design is fun. You get to create beautiful concepts, work on cool animations, and overall save brands from looking ugly. But there’s more to it than that. It requires multidisciplinarity, in terms of a consistent relationship with user experience, a clear understanding of the technologies and handoff needs of developers; awareness of inclusion and accessibility best practices, legal considerations, and more. It’s not all bad, though, as all of this keeps me learning and improving.

What are the values that drive you?
Assertiveness, empathy, communication, and fun. My parents taught me to earn satisfaction through my own efforts or merits. Also, to value academics, culture, equality, and diversity. Life taught me to celebrate it at every chance, but also to take responsibility for every decision I make. And a wise person once told me to always remember that despite adversity, there are still options.

How do you stay on top of your game?
Curiosity. I genuinely find pleasure in learning. Whether by reading, taking online courses, going to conferences, or checking trends. But also by staying humble and listening to others while soaking in what they already know. Lately, I’ve been interested in artificial intelligence design. I think it’s an exciting field that might grow a lot in the coming years, and I would very much like to be a part of it.

What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
The current pandemic has had me reflecting on the reality that life is constantly changing. I’ve been reassessing what’s important in my life while also processing the vulnerability that this pandemic has brought to all of us across the globe. Also, with the powerful and necessary social movements happening around us this month, I’ve been educating myself on racial injustice and working to unlearn automatic biases about all cultures, including my own. Being of Latin American descent, this uprising hits close to home. Although I’m still learning not to be afraid of who I am here in the US, this movement has done a lot in terms of helping me embrace my roots.

If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
I would love to swap with someone in UX design or strategy. I really enjoy taking part in experiments, user tests, and user interviews whenever I get the chance. Ideating concepts or features with the support of data is just exciting. If I got the opportunity to do this exclusively, I’m sure I’d find it challenging and rewarding at the same time.

What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
It would have to be a masterclass on how to chill out. I’d go into the ins and outs of creating a relaxing chill-out session — from warming-up to yoga asanas to breathing exercises to putting your mind in silence mode. I’ve actually already shared some of these sessions with my colleagues — the look of relaxation on their faces after the session was priceless.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
Since quarantine, it’s been yoga and morning breathing practices. Also working on my personal growth and working out. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do strength workouts at home without gym equipment, or doing my own haircuts. Outside of that, you can usually find me running laps in the park, drawing, gaming, and creating fiery mezcal cocktails (with jalapeño, of course). In a typical setting outside of quarantine, I’d be spending every weekend at different beaches in the NY/NJ region with my friends.

Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#Cheerful #Empath #ProudlyMexican #Resilient #Happy

Lighting Round:

Swimming or sunbathing?

Rock climbing or cliff diving?
I’d like to try parachuting.

Ramen or pho?

Fate or coincidence?
A pinch of fate mixed with gallons of free will.

Too hot or too cold?
Too hot (keep the summer coming).

Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!

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