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Spotify’s Tobias van Schneider

3 March 2015

On the occasion of his arrival in Greece, for the World Architecture Information Day, the renowned designer and art director of Spotify, Tobias Van Schneider, discussed with Mosaiko different aspects of his everyday work and the creativity of being self-taught.

Tobias, can you tell us a few words about yourself and your work at Spotify as their Art Director and Lead Product Designer?

I'm currently a Product Design Lead and Art Director at Spotify in New York. My work ranges across multiple teams and usually involves working on the Product Design side as well as the brand/communication design. Together with an amazing design team I'm basically responsible for how you use and experience the Spotify app across multiple platforms.

Can you share a few words about your participation in this year's WIAD in Greece? Have you ever been to Greece before?

I'm very much looking forward to the WIAD event. The talk that I will give is less about my work but but about motivation & inspiraton related to side projects. The title of my talk is "Side projects are stupid" and of course I can unveil the full talk yet. I have been in Greece only once for vacation, it was a small island called Zakynthos famous for the shipwreck on one of the beaches.

In a past interview you said that politics rule the creative world. How do you think creativity is affected by this and what can a creative person do to fight back?

Yes, I remember that. Well, politics are always coming in as soon as teams get bigger or a certain hierarchy is involved. I don't believe that we need to fight back, but creatives need to understand the dynamics of politics and try to work their way around it. I'm personally not a big fan of politics as it usually kills creativity, but with the right approach creatives can work around it, especially when facing a very political environment. It's hard but there is no way around it which means we can neither fight it nor ignore it - But we can try to become part of it.

How do you think the fact that you are self-taught has defined and possibly still defines who you are today?

I believe it defined me and my work a lot, but then at the same time I can't imagine how I would be if I wouldn't be self-taught. In the end everyone is self-taught to a certain degree, even if you went the traditional path of education. The biggest impact that being self-taught makes on me is that I'm flexible and eager to learn new things. I'm not scared to work on completely new things that are out of my expertise or education, because what is my field of expertise or education after all? Being self-taught forces you into a survivor and problem solver mentality, regardless of what kind of obstacle you have in front of you.

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