Disclaimer: I wrote this purely for fun, but it serves its purpose.
Living in the bustling city of Makati in the Philippines, Isabel often finds herself avoiding crowds of people by staying home with a good book in hand and her two dogs by her side. Having grown up in a home filled with books, she can’t remember a time she wasn’t obsessed with reading and learning. She is a self-taught designer who puts her love for learning and good design to use in her career as a UX designer and publisher.
When did you realize you wanted to create books?
I wouldn’t say there was one precise moment, but I still remember the day the Scholastic Book Fair came to my school. I must have been 7 years old, and I was amazed I was at all the knowledge contained in those books on the makeshift shelves. I wasn’t one of those children that knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up, but I did have one dream — to be the author of an encyclopedia volume. I would spend hours in the library poring over the encyclopedias, “researching” on any topic under the sun. Of course now with the Internet, my childhood dream is effectively dead, but I dedicate all my work with the same sentiment in mind — to share knowledge.
How did you get into designing?
I blame my fangirl tendencies for introducing me to the world of Adobe Photoshop. When I am properly obsessed, I’ll do anything to teach myself a new skill. Now, I look back at my earlier work and laugh. I thought I had great design aesthetic at the time. From there, it was an easy transition to InDesign. Illustrator is still my achilles’ heel. Lately, I’ve been very focused on Adobe XD or Figma as part of my every day job in UX. Learning new skills is always enjoyable for me and I never get tired of learning.
What made you interested in a career with UX?
In college, I took a class on basic coding and though I wasn’t very good at it, I loved a good challenge. In my role at the non-profit, due to limited resources we were forced to do a lot of projects in-house. I decided the website was my project. I learned basic CSS and HTML, and redesigned the website and its content. That experience began my love affair with UX, though I didn’t know back then that what I was doing was considered UX design. I think UX is a great combination of all the things I love—research, design, and communication.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
To find inspiration, I need to get on my feet and out those doors. I gather inspiration from good architecture, nature, and people around me. Whenever I have the chance to travel, I take photos of my surroundings. I look back on those photos to spark my creativity. When I can’t go too far, I just pick myself up and run to the nearest bookstore. I go through each aisle, shelf by shelf, until I find something that makes my heart sigh.
If we looked at your bookshelf, would we find anything surprising?
I read a lot of children’s literature. Over the years, I’ve discovered that a good number of children’s books have so much more depth that I might not have appreciated as a child. There are always so many perspectives to consider. Often, I find myself re-reading some of my childhood favorites — such as the Little Prince, Matilda, or the Secret Garden — to see if anything has changed, and I’m always surprised to find that they do.
Besides reading, what else do you do to relieve stress?
Funnily enough, reading is the only hobby that has ever worked out for me. That doesn’t mean it’s the only activity I do to destress. I crochet and knit — very badly; I bake cupcakes — that are heavy as rocks; I work in my garden — and plants die; and I spend time on the floor with my two dogs — thankfully they’re still alive and well. I try not to take life too seriously, it’s serious enough.