We talked to Elizabet Oliveira, a Senior Product Designer at Elastic, a lover of Open Source, an author of React Kawaii, and a passionate coder.
Elizabet Oliveira, previously a successful musician (she was the first solo hip-hop artist signing with a major label), has discovered her other calling. In this interview with React Advanced, she explains why she thinks coding and design are something she was always meant to do, shares her story about abandoning the music industry and getting her first OSS award. Elizabet gives a talk at React Day Berlin, December 6, 2019.
I have a bachelor in Tourism. A course in Events management. Then I did some small development courses like mobile development. I also have a bachelor in Design and a Certificate in Data Visualization. I like to study! Design and coding -- because I like to create my own ideas. I don’t like to wait… I’m very impatient.
Can you, please, at least briefly, describe your previous work experience culminating in your current position, being a Senior Product Designer at Elastic?
I worked as a musician and in the music events industry. Then I worked as a WordPress developer. When the market evolved, I ended up working as a front-end developer. After a while, I realized that I liked to design things on my own, and I started working as a front-end developer/designer.
Soon I moved to Dublin and joined a Design team as a UI developer. In Dublin, I started working a lot with data and analytics. In my last job before joining Elastic, I was Senior UX Designer, but I was building a very complex product. I was doing the design, front-end, and backend. I ended up working with ElasticSearch and Kibana (Elastic products), and it made my life so much easier. At some point I wanted to move back to Lisbon and Elastic was searching for a Senior Product Designer, a very specific type of designer, one who’s keen on open source and likes to build UI with React. I felt that the job was made for me and I applied.
Now you’re working remotely. Do you think freelancing is for you? What challenges do you face on a daily basis while working remotely?
I’m not actually a freelancer. I just work for Elastic but remotely. I worked remotely before, so I knew the challenge was to have a discipline. I’m not a morning person, and I have to force myself to wake up not that late and leave my house! Ultimately, I want to join a coworking space.
I love React, framer motion, figma, styled components.
I have a music / tech-related project that I want to release soon.
When I became popular, I was not prepared for fame. No one prepares you for that. I signed with Universal Music, and suddenly, I was the first female rapper signing with a major label. My music was played on television, PlayStation, and so on. I started receiving a lot of criticism: that I was not a real rapper, that I was too skinny, or I was this and that. I also started having haters releasing rap tracks aimed against me. In hip-hop, they call these “beefs”. I never answered one. So I guess people labeled me as weak.
Labels, managers, and the music industry don’t teach you how to deal with this. I became depressed. I was living “at night,” drank too much. Then the economic crisis hit Portugal, and I started having fewer and fewer shows. I was also managing events on the side, and they, too, became unprofitable. My musician friends all had the same problems. The older musicians kept renting rooms without having anything of their own. And I didn’t want that to myself.
Deep down I knew there was still time for me to pursue a different path. At one of the events, my colleague mentioned that she thought I was really skilled at making websites. I never thought of that. But then, I realized that throughout my music career, I kept making sites and posters myself. Maybe that was my calling? I stayed at home for a while compiling my portfolio, which I later sent to a company. And days later, they hired me.
When I describe myself as “not an artist,” I refer to a music show business artist. I think design and coding can be art. But I don’t like to be in the spotlight.
I guess all my hobbies are related to music. I like to play the guitar. Sometimes I produce instrumentals. Sometimes I record raps and share with close friends. I help some friends producing music and doing lyrics.
Are you excited about the upcoming conference in Berlin? What are you going to talk about and what are your expectations from the event?
Yes, I am definitely excited. I’m going to talk about exploring audio with SVGs and React. I have one rap in English that I would love to perform. I expect to meet a lot of new people, inspire others, and get inspired myself.