About me

Being a designer and beyond

Hello! I'm Rica-Marie, a passionate Product Designer based in Maryland, USA. With over a decade of experience spanning diverse disciplines, I've specialized in Visual Design for over 8 years. My journey began in Graphic Design, but it ignited when I collaborated with startups, discovering my passion for Product Design. I thrive on leading comprehensive product redesigns, breathing fresh energy into projects ranging from mobile apps to e-commerce platforms. These varied experiences have cultivated my keen eye for detail, adaptable mindset, and deep empathy for users.

Yet, my identity extends beyond design. As a first-generation Filipina-American, I proudly wear my heritage. I'm also a devoted supermom to two amazing daughters and a dedicated wife, finding strength and inspiration in my family. Amidst life's hustle, I find solace in the vibrant world of art. Whether oil painting or drawing, the creative process holds a special place in my heart. Explore my portfolio and join me on this creative odyssey. Together, let's transform your concepts into reality and craft meaningful user experiences that resonate with your audience.
My career journey
No one can predict which path to take and where it will lead them throughout anyone's career path. Instead of a path, I like to view it as a journey, filled with multiple unexpected twists and turns, same as your personal life. What matters is how you will adjust to any of those turns and challenges. My career experience varies widely, ranging from fine arts, graphic design, UI design, product design, university visiting lecturer teaching UI/UX design, and UX strategist. Although different, but still connected and intertwined within the design realm. Here’s my career foundation and proceeding journey to where I am currently. My previous experiences helped prepare me for any new venture that presents itself to me. I would like to think I’m a well-rounded designer and creative thinker.

Fine arts
As I look back at my earliest memories, art has always been a part of my life milestones; I’ve always had an intense fascination with the fine arts. Which art has been the budding interest within the world of creation. What’s fascinating is that there are no limits on what you can create within fine arts. Since I was a young girl, art has been ingrained in me as a person; I knew I wanted to be a creator of some sort. I was majoring in Fine Arts in college, although sadly realized that I did not want to be a stereotypical starving artist. I would still create fine art projects in my free time, but I needed to figure out what would be a great career fit for me as a creative individual.

Graphic Design
I noticed a hybrid of arts and the digital world merging, as the technology era was on the rise with smartphones getting popular and website practices changing to be responsive. During this time, I’ve transitioned to graphic design, in which I freelanced and worked at various design firms. Focusing on print design collateral the first few years, then with digital. One notable milestone was working as a graphic designer at Interior Design Magazine when living in New York City. I collaborated with the marketing team to provide them with event collaterals. Such as designing in-house printed magazine ads, branded events, and designing & code HTML emails promoting events. Occasionally I would work with the editorial team for their monthly magazines & seasonal print tabloid magazines.

Product Design
During my time as a graphic designer, I would moonlight as a freelance UI/UX designer to gain experience within the ever-growing and evolving digital world. Also, I wanted to understand better the foundation of what to think when designing for a mobile and web app. I attended online UI/UX Design classes through the University of California San Diego, where I received a UI/UX Design certificate. I then realized that good design is visually nice to see, but great design is captivating an experience. User experience is essential to make the user's journey effortless by producing creative UX solutions to reduce confusion. When designing, I try to bridge visual aesthetics and purposeful functionality by eliminating any unnecessary user actions (extra clicks, taps, swipes, and scrolls). People should access content with the quickest interactions. Also, as product designers, you have to consider adding informative onboarding flows, which help them learn how to use the app. Mainly for first-time users rather than them diving into a void. You have to keep in mind that users won't have the same technical knowledge as each other. Just how each human is different depending on certain aspects, we can’t assume they are all at the same tech-savvy level. When forming a creative UX solution, you need to think about the users that are not super tech-savvy. How will you design a solution for the everyday person? Will they know that is an interactive asset within the app? Often, you need to think outside of your box to see how others view the box.In one of my experiences, I was the Senior UI/UX Designer at Presentr, a B2B public speaking mobile training app, where I collaborated with the product manager, dev team, and Q/A specialist. It was a small startup company where I had to wear multiple hats such as Brand Designer, Product Designer, helped with user research, and managed design interns. Also collected data to help craft creative UX solutions for the app by conducting user testing, created the design system, A/B testing, led focus groups, and used heat map analysis.Another startup experience was at Gro, an educational app that helps entrepreneur-minded people start up their business through a curated guided journey, from a business idea to help launch their new business. Gro consisted of multi-level modules, lessons, resources, and interactive assignments. Contracted as a Product Designer; I designed the front-end visual UI designs, mapped out flow charts for the user experience flows throughout the web app, and mockup every user scenario for the dev team. I collaborated with the Project Manager and dev team. Also, verified the user experience flow and designs were reflected correctly within the launched versions by bug tracking.

Teaching design
Thankfully my previous experiences and understanding of design within multiple platforms helped prepare me to spread my knowledge about design as a whole confidently. Understanding how design can be fluid, also while considering a design thinking process, rather than just designing a visually pleasing design without a profound purpose. Teaching design became a natural evolution to me at the moment, and I was grateful for the experience. At the University of Maryland Baltimore County, I taught undergraduate students from Freshman to Senior level, so I have experience guiding students who are brand new to design and students who have a bit of experience under their belt. The courses I taught were Typography I, Graphic Design III, and Web II (UI/UX Design). To better understand me as an educator, you can read my teaching statement and view the courses I taught.

UX Strategist
I was contracted as a freelance UX Strategist to collaborate with the research team to analyze and observe user testing sessions to collect feedback for a well-known multinational hotel’s app. Also, I provided UX feedback and low-fidelity wireframes based on the user testing session for the design team. Although being a UX Strategist doesn’t involve me designing visually, I still feel a solid connection to this field and type of role since it involves creative thinking and generating UX solutions. Lately, I’ve been interested in finding out and understanding how to make a UX flow better for the end-users. It’s similar to being a product designer minus the visual design. It’s more about designing improved solutions, which I love to dig deeper into exploring within my career. I love to learn new techniques and processes of creative thinking; I am always up for a new challenge.

The following statement may sound cliché; although true, everything happens for a reason. Every experience and opportunity, full-time roles, and freelance gigs were perfect stepping stones throughout my career; each step had a valuable purpose to help me evolve career-wise. I believe that my multiple skill sets allow me to adapt to any situation and environment. I am genuinely grateful for each work experience, challenges, and successes that I have faced and will face in the future. They (my experiences) molded me into the person I am currently and supposed to be for my career journey and personally.
Read my teaching statement