“Designing for Change,” an Interview with Julieta Felix
Julieta Felix is a visual designer at PayPal and founder of Busy Vegan, a plant-based food blog. She has lectured about design at creative conferences and universities, and has been named one of the Top 100 Creatives in Phoenix.
Her work has been featured in numerous blogs and magazines and her clients include: American Airlines, Disney, Pepsi, Subway, Bucketfeet, Phoenix Design Week, among others.
Monomyth Studio: What was your first exposure to design? When/How did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Julieta Felix: I have loved computers since day one, but I think it all started with Bob Ross in the ‘90s. I was obsessed! I would watch back-to-back episodes of The Joy of Painting and I even got my own Bob Ross kit one Christmas. After that, I moved to Mario Paint for Super Nintendo which came with a little mouse and mouse pad. From there, I moved to my grade school’s MS Paint, which then turned into Photoshop, so on and so forth!
What are some differences you’ve noticed between working at a creative studio and as an in-house designer for PayPal?
I worked at two creative studios before joining PayPal, and there is a world of difference! As an in-house designer you have the luxury of time. You can really get deep into a design problem and explore all routes we can take to solve a problem without pressing deadlines. At PayPal, the designers are exposed to user testing, which is one of my favorite things to witness—a real user interacting with your design and getting real-time feedback.
Another good thing about PayPal is the fact that you have literally millions of eyes looking at your work. That means our job as visual designers is to be trend-setters, not trend-followers, which is always challenging and exciting.
How do you negotiate your time and energy between personal projects and the work you do at PayPal?
I like to do it all! I can’t help it. I’m big on multi-tasking. For example, I’ll get ready in the morning while I listen to my audio books. I’ll drive to work while I make a voice memo to friends and family that live far away. I listen to podcasts or new music while I work, and come home and cook dinner while I watch my favorite YouTubers (I’m big into YouTube). By 7:00pm, I’m done for the day and I can spend time with my boyfriend, my dogs and still have time for side projects I’m working on.
PayPal is big on work-home balance, so our managers make sure we’re not overloaded with work, that we have our evenings and weekends free, and that we can take vacations regularly!
What artists/designers have had the most significant influence on your work? Why?
I’ve always loved Salvador Dalí. His work spoke to me at a very young age and I think it has shaped the way I approach brainstorming when faced with a design problem. I love to escape and push the limits of what’s been done before.
What has your experience been like as a woman in design?
I’m going to be completely honest here. In past job situations, there has absolutely been a double-standard for women. I’ve heard horror stories from my women designer friends struggling to get the same amount of respect (and salary) as their male counterparts. Women in end-of-year reviews keep getting the words “friendly” and “organized” while men get “assertive” and “leader.”
Luckily, at PayPal it is the complete opposite. I’ve never felt more appreciated and encouraged to think big. It’s refreshing to find a team in which both women and men are equally appreciated, compensated and are encouraged to be the best they can be.
Coming from Mexico, how does your background influence the work you do now?
I try to think of other languages and cultures when I’m designing. I have witnessed poverty in my country, and now that I’m in the US with so many opportunities, it makes me want to make meaningful work, be involved in projects that can make a difference, or improve people’s lives.
A lot of your work is focused on health, diet, and animal rights. Could you tell us a bit about how design can function as an agent of change?
I am the founder of Busy Vegan, a plant-based food blog. We’re all put on this Earth and we can choose what to do with our precious time here. I chose to use my skills as a designer to bring attention to factory farming. Let’s face it, no one wants to hear about the awful practices of the meat industry and how animals are slaughtered. My solution was to show the positive side of the equation so I share recipes for delicious, satisfying meals that happen to be plant-based. This way, we get to save the lives of cows, pigs, and chickens while eating healthy, tasty food!
I also try to use my photography skills to make the recipes look appetizing, and share super easy, fast recipes that people who are busy like me can do in less than 15 minutes. With my video knowledge, I also film short YouTube videos with vegan meal ideas, and I’m working on releasing my first e-book, the proceeds from which will go towards my favorite animal sanctuary. I do what I can, and so can everybody else! Imagine having 6 billion people working towards solving some of the problems in our planet. It would be a very different world, right?
What’s it like to be a designer here in Phoenix? What does this city/community have to offer an artist?
The cool thing is that it is such a tight-knit community, that most designers know each other and you can see them grow and explore different styles and techniques throughout the years. I try to go to local events, or give back to Arizona State University when I’m asked to guest-review the Visual Communication finals, or just hanging out with designer friends who share the same passion as you. We’re all rooting for each other!