A View Into a Designer’s Crypto Journey
Probably like many others, Ginny discovered crypto through a friend that wouldn’t stop talking about it. But at first she kept pushing it off because it was “too complicated” and “hard to grasp,” saying she would take care of diving into crypto later when she had more free time. After various attempts by her friend, Ginny finally gave in. They sat down one hot summer afternoon in Toledo, Spain, and she asked him to explain everything, starting from zero. And then down the rabbit hole she went, like many of us after we started getting it.
The fact that Ginny had this early rapprochement with crypto helped spark her curiosity when she stumbled upon Hiro’s search for a Brand Designer—it’s not overly common for an early-stage crypto company to hire brand designers. In reality, most crypto companies only consider hiring for creative roles once they’re well established. For her, the fact that Hiro was looking for a Brand Designer at this stage signaled the maturity and thoughtfulness of the company towards its own growth, and a strong long term vision.
So Ginny applied, met the lovely people of Hiro through our interviewing process, and ultimately got the job. Her favorite part of the interviewing process was meeting so many different people on the team outside of her future manager and the hiring team. She spoke with engineers, growth team members, and Muneeb, Hiro’s CEO and the founder of Stacks, so she could develop a comprehensive view of what the team and culture were all about.
Once she started, Ginny dug in even deeper into crypto - now not only as an outsider or as an investor, but as an active contributor who needed to understand the technology and its potential. Only with that understanding could Ginny use her design expertise to maximum effect. It was during this research phase that the power of cryptocurrency finally finished clicking.
You see, Ginny lived most of her life in Argentina where there is a perpetual and cyclical financial crisis. She saw how the Argentinian Peso lost value over time in disastrous ways and through crazy inflation. She experienced—and suffered—the flaws of government-managed currency in real life, and intimately understood the need for crypto and its transformative technologies. She saw crypto as a way to improve countless lives through the power of economic freedom.
And today, things have come full circle for Ginny. She became that friend, the one who insistently advocates for crypto and the technology behind it. “Do not wait another day!” Ginny told me. “Even if you’re not ready to invest, even if it seems scary, or complicated, or strange... just start to learn about it from an educational standpoint - learn about the alternatives it offers and its power for transformation, which is where the true value lies.”
“It will make you open your mind to new ways of seeing the world - it will make you question why we live the way we do and interrogate the relationship we have with money, and how we want that relationship to be.”
Who's up for a fun existential crisis about money?
So, Ginny, how does this all tie into brand design and your role? What are your thoughts about designing in the crypto space?
In my previous roles, I worked in traditional tech startups and companies. Unfortunately, in that space there are formulas and common patterns we, as designers, fall into, since it’s “the way everyone’s doing it.” There’s this feeling that everything’s done already, and there’s no more terrain to explore.
However, what I find fascinating about designing in the crypto industry is that there are no proven successful formulas. Everything’s still so new and different, and there’s so much room for exploration, trial and error, and for solving communication problems in alternative ways. There is the opportunity to create totally new ways to engage with audiences, which are also very different from the audiences in more traditional spaces in tech.
For example, design in traditional tech might revolve around a product or a service first and foremost, whereas in crypto, the community comes first. Then, you are thinking through the project design and how it fits around the community, and even more broadly, how the design fits into the world view and ideals that this community has in common.
To add to that, there’s also this overall sense of community and togetherness within the industry at large. Even if we’re working on different projects - in the end, we all want for the crypto space to succeed.
This is another crucial differentiator from traditional tech because in crypto, competition only makes us want to improve and be better at solving problems, and through that, elevate the whole industry. It’s the wagmi mentality. If one of us wins, we all win.
One of the values at Hiro is “We go together,” and the idea is that rising tides lift all boats. There is so much collaboration, a sense of community, and almost everything is built on the basis of open-source philosophy. As a designer, that puts me in a very different design space than the dog eat dog mentality of traditional tech.
Sounds like you’ve done a lot of work to understand the space. How do you approach research?
It really depends on the project, but in general, I try to do a bit of research every day. Whether it’s reading books and articles, keeping up with news, or paying attention to what’s happening in our community, I try to stay on top of the dialogue because crypto as a whole is dense and moves quickly. And given how important community is, doing that research is critical to engage with them and understand their pain points and their perceptions.
On the creative side, I also do “research” everyday, mostly through finding inspiration or learning something new. I believe creativity is a muscle that you need to exercise, and is not something that just happens magically. Pablo Picasso put it more poetically when he said, “inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
What are you working on next?
We just finished our website revamp, which serves as a foundational base for a bigger project: Hiro’s brand evolution. This evolution started last year when we created and grew our marketing team, bringing in our powerhouse VP of Marketing, Kaitlin, plus two more incredible additions: Elena, our Product Marketing Manager, and you Max, our new Content Marketing Manager (and we’re also hiring for a Marketing Operations Manager!).
I am looking forward to collaborating with our team to do more research on our audience, find our tone of voice, and establish the best way to communicate our products, so we can reach more developers that want to be part of the Bitcoin economy and ecosystem.
NFTs on Bitcoin are huge right now. Do you own any NFTs? Would you consider designing any?
I do own some NFTs! I somehow ended up with a cowboy-themed NFT collection which I’m very proud of. A couple months ago I also designed the first official Hiro NFT. It was part of a campaign we did for NFT.NYC to onboard developers in the experience of Bitcoin NFTs. What I found thrilling about this project is that we took NFTs to the ‘real’ world. I designed the NFT, and our team made a physical campaign by handing out postcards with a code to claim the NFT. The 1000 units were gone within hours! I still haven’t launched a collection on my own, but who knows, maybe in the future!
What are other projects you enjoyed working on?
It’s hard to choose because there were so many I enjoyed and all of them have been challenging in their own way. I enjoyed working on a new illustration system for the Hiro Wallet to help enhance the user experience and make it more cohesive. Our first Stacks anniversary wrap up was also very fun to work on - can’t believe we ideated and executed this campaign in less than a week!