ClaraUjiie (Designer Advocate at Figma)

Clara is a designer, doodler, and noodler fascinated by the intersection of tooling and creative communities.

Berkeley, United States • April 22, 2024

What led you into design?

Curiosity and some luck. I've been a visual learner and explorer since I was a kid. Like for many, Neopets, Xanga, Myspace, and Tumblr were avenues for creative expression. I loved noodling with different layouts and found myself getting lost in customizing my Neopets shop. I never realized there was a career for that kind of playful exploration.

The logos of Neopets, Xanga, Myspace, and Tumblr.

I was lucky to have several mentors early on. From walking me through tiny type details to explaining how to think about design philosophically. From challenging me to play with more color to helping me craft messaging around my work. They’ve supported me the whole way, and continue to do so with much patience and grace.

What does a typical day look like?

The day starts with a review of my top priorities (aka look over the scribbles in my notebook).

I'm in a new headspace every day given the cross-functional nature of the designer advocate role—the work spans design, content, consulting, community, and events. During Config (Figma’s marquee conference) season, our team is heads-down, working with speakers on their talks, refining content, and planning community events. Typically, I meet with customers to see where I can help unblock: answering technical Figma questions, consulting on design systems and design operations, and/or helping train various roles on the platform. When I'm not getting into the weeds of Figma, I'm filming a video or preparing for a livestream. On camera-off days, I'm sharing my learnings, creating educational content, relaying user feedback, and hanging with the design community. You can check out a more visual overview of the designer advocate role here.

On office days, I'll catch the bus into San Francisco, where the first leg of my walk across Salesforce Park is always a nice start to the day.

Some days involve a coldbrew matcha. It pairs nicely with some stretches or sweets. At the end of the day, I'll review my notes and prep for the next.

What's your workstation setup?

I've ditched my monitors and am just using a laptop riser these days. When I'm not standing, I'm sitting on a funky chair. Spatial variety is nice, so I'll move to different areas throughout the day. I'll also hop from nook to nook when I'm in the office.

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A back view of my desk with the 16
A side view of my desk, with the whiteboard view in the center.
A closeup of Swipies and post-its on my desk near my keyboard and mouse. Written on the Swipie says
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A view inside Figma's SF office of several meeting rooms by the hallway.
The courtyard area of Figma's SF office. This location is where events and presentations are hosted, with many seats facing the stage area with a podium. Behind the seats are colorful chairs around small, circular tables.
A seating area in Figma's SF office with several coffee tables and sofas filled with deco pillows.
A view inside Figma SF's meeting room with four display TVs, a long table in the center, and several seats and sofas on the perimeter of the room.

I've shoved as many apps as I can into Arc, but left my key players on the dock. My three phone screens get tweaked probably quarterly.

A screenshot of my dock from my Mabook: Finder, Figma, Figma Staging, Arc, Cron, Reflect, and Things.
Three mobile screenshots of my iPhone screens, spaced evenly on a gray background.

Where do you go to get inspired?

Nearly everyone and everything inspires me. But when I'm in a pinch, I'll go for a walk—to the sandwich shop nearby, or to Mordor. New ideas are brewing by the time I'm back.

Also books and magazines! I could thumb through beautiful print layouts all day. They inspire me to no end. Online, I read Kai Brach and Craig Mod's newsletters; so much thoughtful and fun writing, with endless links to dance through.

A stack of books with the spines facing the camera; with the book Kissa by Kissa laying open and flat in the front.
Several magazines and books scattered around a centered view of Kissa by Kissa atop a gray surface.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

For no profound reason, I love this tea bowl and cup set from Neko.Co.Neko. Using it makes me inexplicably happy.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

Whenever I think "that thing I did was worth it", community work comes to mind. Making space for others to connect and share stories is rewarding, whether it be at a conference or a local meetup. Schema 2022 in New York was especially memorable. It had been a while since we last hosted an in-person conference, and we knew getting the design system community together would be special. Each speaker worked so hard on their talks—it was truly a pleasure to work through content with them for months and to finally welcome them to the stage.

A large audience facing the Schema stage in New York in 2022 as Clara and Chad open the conference.
An empty Schema stage with purple and green lights shining on the stage before attendees were let into the venue.
A closeup of the Schema 2022 New York pin, pinned to a purple and green canvas tote.
Clara and Chad on the Schema stage with the podium to the left.
A view of the entrance into the conference space with lit-up spherical shapes and several, layered welcoming translucent arches.
Two Schema attendees chatting in the seating area with green lighting.
A view of the audience during the conference, with the attendee in focus sitting up to look at the stage.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

Part of my role as a designer advocate is to help external teams work through their own design challenges—particularly in moments where they feel stuck (e.g. streamlining processes, facilitating change management, architecting design libraries, etc.). This then becomes a design challenge for us, in turn, as we juggle the collective and unique challenges across our growing community. That balance influences the way we create learning materials, handle support, and, of course, design for designers (and beyond).

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Identify great communicators in your life, then dissect what makes them great at their craft. Refine what you share, at what altitude, and when and where you share it. You'll be set apart as a designer in spades. Explaining things plainly and succinctly also makes it easier for others to help you. While this is relevant for any role, effectively selling an evolving future-state (a design) can be super hard. So take notes, keep trying, and enjoy the journey!

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Join us for Config on June 26 + 27! If you’re not able to join us in-person, you can join virtually or catch all the talks online later.

Also feel free to say hi!

A peeking view of an Eeyore plushie looking over a blurry view of a Macbook, with a Miffy plushie sitting on the sofa to the right.