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I first met Lia Prins while we were speaking at World IA Day in Austin. She shared her approach to creativity and experience with bringing it into her work at IBM. During work hours, Lia works in UX design and data visualization. When she is supposed to be relaxing, she dives into complex projects that require deep learning and building skillsets to help her satiate her curiosity.

What do you really do at work?

I’m UX and Data Visualization Designer. It’s a growing field. There are a lot of blogs and podcast on it now. This seems ironic since podcast are really a non-visual medium. In my work, I have to interact with a lot of data scientist, and I have to understand how the algorithms work are supposed to work.

Algorithms in particular can be full of biases. That is where I have to dig to understand how the results (of the research) should work and how the visualization should show them.

Links to Data Visualization design opportunities.

How do you define creativity?

This is from Freakanomics. One of the guests described it as novelty that works. If you break down that statement, then it doesn’t exist yet, and it has to solve a problem. This makes so much sense. Anything else would be a copy of something and/or something random.

Lia Prins - curiosity and creativity

Lia Prins embraces curiosity to explore questions at a very deeper level.

As far as the novelty part of creativity, I feel you can be flexible with that. You can repurpose elements like colors and use them in different contexts. It doesn’t have to be giant revelation.

Check out the Freakanomics Podcast series on creativity.

How do you apply creativity in your work?

I do a lot of drawing and sketching at work and for fun too. For me, drawing random things forces me to observe details that I would not have noticed otherwise. I have to focus on capturing an image, and I see things that I would have missed if I wasn’t trying to replicate it.

How does this curiosity carry over to your other interests?

On the side, I have been getting into coding. People don’t give coding enough credit for being a creative outlet. There is a big element around the problem solving aspect especially when things go wrong.

I started a side project for building my own site, and I told myself that I wouldn’t use any coding frameworks. Everything would be vanilla javascript, CSS, and HTML. This way I had to really focus on the interactions and plan out how to code for the page element as well as the site framework.

Lia’s blog – Curiosity-colored glasses.

Are you an introvert?

I’m definitely an introvert. I have no problem talking to people. It’s the unstructured social events like mingling that stress me out.

Lia Prins is a UX and Data Visualization designer. She shows that you need to bring a high level of curiosity to her work. The reward is not only increased quality for the people she is designing for, but she also has learned to discover creativity with very little boundaries.

You can find her online here.

Personal Site:

Find more posts on creativity here.

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Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.