Nelson AF | Design Leader

SF Bay Area

Hi. I'm Nelson A. Fernandez, a design leader fueled by a passion for the art of design, with a proven track record of successfully executing comprehensive design strategies and driving triumphant rebrands across diverse industries. My expertise spans marketing, branding, content, and product design. I've consistently delivered innovative solutions that have elevated both brand and product, fueling business growth. With years of experience in tech, I bring a unique perspective to my work, and my ability to collaborate with cross-functional teams has proven invaluable to every organization I've been part of.

I've worked in-house for companies like
resmed logo
sony music logo
ioda logo
USA Today logo
 gannett logo
section logo
first American logo

Examples of my work

View all projects
Let’s talk now!

Nelson A.

I consider myself fortunate to have acquired experience in both in-house settings and at agencies. Throughout my journey, I have collaborated with numerous teams at startups and Fortune 500 companies, while serving a diverse clientele across various industries. I've spearheaded multiple rebrands, established robust design systems, and orchestrated the seamless execution of comprehensive design strategies. This has included designing complex web applications, websites, ads, educational videos, packaging, mobile sites, mobile apps, e-commerce sites, landing pages, email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, marketing collateral, and much more.


Summary of qualifications

What I do

As someone who thrives in the startup world, I have found that being both an individual contributor and manager is crucial, and I am equally passionate about both roles.

Build and implement comprehensive design strategy
Build and maintain design systems
Foster an environment that nurtures creativity and collaboration, enabling creative teams to thrive and deliver exceptional results
Concept and develop multi-dimensional integrated campaigns across digital, print, and video
Lead projects through execution and develop digital/social content to drive lead generation
Facilitate team communication and creative development to deliver highly impactful designs
Synthesize emerging trends and insights to optimize consumer impact and engagement
Cultivate cross functional relationships with staff, agency partners, and key stakeholders
Tools I use

For the better part of my career, I have utilized Adobe software, but in recent years I have expanded my toolkit with numerous other applications. Given the current hybrid/remote work landscape, I find it essential to leverage modern design collaboration and project management tools like Figma and Asana.

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Indesign
Adobe After Effects
Familiarity w/ JS / PHP
Areas of expertise

Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working with many organizations in various industries, gaining valuable experience in:

Brand Design
Visual Design
UX Design
UI Design
Web Design / Front-end Web Dev
Information Architecture
Graphic Design
Video content creation
Project / Design Team Management
Manage team budgets / vendors


University of California Santa Cruz
BA Psychology
SFSU College of Extended Learning
Multimedia Studies: Courses in web design / HTML / JS / animation
General Assembly
UX Design certificate program
Conferences / Seminars / Courses
Courses in Brand Strategy, Business Strategy, Product Strategy, Management and more (Section)
Responsive Design & Developement (Zurb)
UI Design (Web Visions)
HTML5 (Web Visions)
CSS3 (Web Visions)
Web Typography (Future of Web Design)
Mobile UX Design (Web Visions)
Visual Personality on the Web (Future of Web Design)
WordPress (Web Visions)

Work Experience

Head of Creative
Sept 2021 - Current
Section logo
Propeller Health / Resmed
Design Director
May 2015 - Aug 2021
Propeller Logo
Resmed Logo
Gannett Company Inc. / USA Today
Travel Media Group
Lead Visual & UX Designer
Jan 2013 - April 2015
USA Today Logo
Gannett Logo
Travora Media
Lead Visual & UX Designer
May 2012 - Jan 2013
Travora Logo
IODA / Sony Music
Creative Director
May 2007 - April 2012
Leadclick / Eadvertising (a division of the First American Corporation)
Lead Designer
Feb 2005 - May 2007
Leadclick logo
Skills Inc.
Co-owner / Design & Marketing
June 1999 - Feb 2005
Skills Logo

What it's like to work with me

"I can confidently say that Nelson is one of the most dedicated and talented designers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

First name Last name
Title, Company

Nelson has an unparalleled ability to lead and inspire creative teams, resulting in outstanding and innovative solutions. His attention to detail, passion for design, and collaborative spirit have made them an invaluable asset to our organization.

First name Last name
Title, Company

Frequently asked questions

What types of projects do you take on?

I have a strong passion for all aspects of design, and my skill set includes a broad range of specialties, such as visual design, UX design, UI design, project management, front-end development, identity design, and much more.

Do you prefer to act as a manager vs individual contributor?

As someone who has extensive experience both managing and working as an individual contributor, I have found value in both approaches. As a manager, I enjoy the challenge of leading a team and facilitating collaboration to achieve a shared goal. I find fulfillment in mentoring team members and watching them grow and develop their skills over time. However, I also appreciate the autonomy and creative freedom that comes with being an individual contributor. Being able to focus solely on the design process and seeing a project through from start to finish can be very rewarding.

What is your approach to managing creative teams?

My approach to managing creative teams centers around empowering team members and fostering an environment of open communication and collaboration. I believe that each member of a team brings a unique perspective and skill set to the table, and my role as a manager is to facilitate and support their contributions. To achieve this, I prioritize building relationships with each team member and getting to know their individual strengths and goals. This enables me to tailor my management style to their needs and help them reach their full potential.

In terms of fostering collaboration and innovation, I encourage open dialogue and idea sharing among team members. I find that brainstorming sessions, group critiques, and cross-functional collaboration are effective ways to spark new ideas and push creative boundaries. I also believe that continuous learning and professional development are essential for staying innovative and up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. Therefore, I make sure to provide opportunities for training, attending conferences and events, and engaging with industry thought leaders.

Do you prefer to work on B2B or B2C projects?

As a creative professional, I appreciate the unique challenges and opportunities that come with working on both B2B and B2C projects. While B2B projects typically involve more complex products or services with longer sales cycles and a more rational, data-driven approach, B2C projects often require a more emotional and intuitive design that appeals to a broader audience. I find both types of projects equally rewarding and enjoy the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects that challenge me to apply my skills in new and creative ways.

What is your design philosophy: Clients and their audiences?

As a designer, I believe that trust is at the core of creating effective and impactful design. Without trust, design can be disconnected from the needs and desires of the audience, leading to ineffective communication and missed opportunities.

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What is your design philosophy: Management/Teams?

When trust is the core principle of your design philosophy, it can have a positive impact on your team in various ways...

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What is your ideal design process: Brand/Identity?

I believe that a successful design process is a combination of discovery, research, strategy, concept development, design exploration, refinement, iteration, the creation of final design / deliverables and finally launch and monitoring. Here's an overview of my approach...

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What is your ideal design process: Product / Campaign

A successful design process contains a sequence of crucial and interdependent steps. These include thorough exploration, in-depth research, strategic planning, creative concept development, rigorous refinement, iterative improvements, and the ultimate creation of impeccable design deliverables. Finally a well-executed launch and sustained monitoring are crucial for ensuring optimal outcomes.

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