Make things & help others

I'm Dennis Cortés, a Hispanic creative from Bayamón, Puerto Rico. I grew up in Davie, Florida, and originally went to college for music business in Nashville. Believe it or not, before design I wanted to be a rap producer but instead graduated with a degree in graphic design.

I was most recently the Head of Design at Northstar, leading our design efforts across the company and hiring a team to build the future of financial wellness. I've helped scale multiple startups and have worked on products with millions of users that have changed the world (Uber, Facebook, Dave [has since IPO'd], Keller Williams, Mothership, and others).

I've been designing products for 12+ years now. In addition to working on my own ideas, I've worked at design agencies (MetaLab, Vrasa), and in-house at startups big and small (Satchel Health, Dave, Mothership, and Northstar). I've worked both in IC roles as well as leadership roles, working cross-departmentally with strength in holistic product thinking.

I've released 250+ videos and 100+ articles on design, code, product, music, and other passions. I've released 11 music albums under the alias Cordio, and am currently working on 2 more.

I care a lot about people and value empathy, transparency, vulnerability, and trust more than anything. I consider myself a generalist who wants to make things that help others at the end of the day.

Outside of work my passions include interior design, fixing up old game consoles, coffee chemistry, music production, photography and video, DIY projects, video games, Pokémon, anime, mental health (I'm diagnosed with OCD and ADHD), plus hip-hop and beat music. I live in Nashville, TN with my partner Dallas and our 3 pets Milo, Fetty, and Jiji.


Dennis-Cortes-Designer-Musician-Home-2
office-photo
5
dennis-and-dallas-photo
1
fetty-photo
dallas-photo
jiji cat photo

Work History

Northstar (2021 - 2024)
Head of Design
northstarmoney.com →

Mothership (2019 - 2021)
Lead Product Designer
mothership.com →

Dave (2019 - 2020)
Senior Product Designer
dave.com →

MetaLab (2017 - 2019)
Product Designer
metalab.com →

Satchel Health (2014 - 2017)
Product Designer & FE Developer
satchelhealth.com

Vrasa (2012 - 2014)
Brand & Product Designer
vrasa.com →

"Dennis and I worked together at Northstar for almost 3 years. In that time I had the pleasure of witnessing Dennis share his unique Design leadership, philosophy, and skillsets in countless ways. He took a scattered and disjointed set of colors, fonts, and graphics and built a thorough and robust design system. He asked thoughtful questions and considered each design problem from multiple perspectives.

Dennis listened - Oh, what a great listener he is! He handled complex design problems, overlapping deadlines, conflicting priorities, and exacting stakeholders with grace and calm. Dennis excelled at collaborating cross-functionally and both integrating and iterating on feedback. Dennis never shied away from a challenge, no matter how ambiguous or ill-defined the ultimate goal was. He shined in the startup environment, and I am thankful for the time I was able to spend working with him and learning from him."

— Erin, Sr Manager of Financial Advice @ Northstar
 

"Dennis was one of the most humble and pleasant designers I worked with. His work speaks for itself. He's a systems thinker, capable of understanding the problem with a holistic view and arriving at a range of creative solutions for the best product experience. Excellent speaker, great communicator, and above all, a compassionate human with a heart of gold. 10/10 would work together again in a heartbeat."

— Jimmy, Head of Design @ Subject
 

"Working with Dennis on the Carrier app has been awesome. Specifically, he's incredibly available and responsive to unexpected issues. He also asks great clarifying questions to get at the heart of the matter.

Dennis gets to solutions/judgments very quickly, even on the crunchiest of topics. He's incredibly flexible and quickly embraces the best idea that emerges with fast follow-up actions; and he's willing to say "no" to bad ideas."

— Matt, Sr Engineer @ Mothership
 

"Dennis is an incredible designer, one of the best I have ever worked with in my whole career. He's on top of the design system, hyper-organized, and can push visual designs to world-class standard.

Dennis is open to feedback and never takes it personally which is one of the most important qualities as a designer. He's great at facilitating and leading conversations in meetings especially when topics become technical.

Dennis checks in with his team members often and tries to help out if we are blocked by something. He brings his true self to the workspace which helps us open up to him too."

— Risa, Sr Designer @ Netflix
 

"Dennis is a brilliant and thoughtful Design leader. I had the distinct pleasure of working with Dennis for 3 years during his time with Northstar in a cross-functional capacity. He excels at cross-functional collaboration and coordination on design builds, I always looked forward to working together as he always took the time to explain design concepts, user experience, and optional paths within wire frames.

Dennis built the Northstar design team from the ground up and always delivered high quality work. His dedication to the Northstar mission and personal finances was evident daily and you cannot ask for a more passionate Leader & Designer who believes in what he is doing. I highly recommend Dennis and hope to have the opportunity to work together again in the future."

— Chris, Director of Financial Planning @ Northstar
 

"Dennis was an absolute pleasure to work with at Mothership. As an engineer developing the company's web-based dashboard, I quickly discovered that - in addition to being an excellent designer - Dennis is a great communicator who understands the technical challenges that his coworkers deal with and takes them in stride. That, I think, is part of his greatest strength: a breadth of competence that extends past his core responsibilities and into all of the miscellaneous odds and ends that come up when you're wearing many hats at a startup.

I feel it's also worth mentioning that he makes the chillest music and has a highly-refined palette for coffee. Ask him about both if you get the chance."

— John, Sr Engineer @ Mothership
 

"I worked with Dennis for 6 months under his leadership. It was the most outstanding mentorship I've received throughout my professional career. Dennis is a natural leader with incredible design experience. He is always on top of the trends, but beyond that he is strategic, collaborative, imaginative, and focused. He has a special talent for architecting incredibly complex design systems that are highly scalable and easy to use.

On top of exceeding my every expectation at work, he is one of the kindest and most empathetic human beings I've ever met. It was an absolute honor to work with Dennis and to grow so much as a designer during our time together."

— Karlee, Sr Designer @ Mothership
 

Recognition

Some of my work in the news, awards, and features. Send me an email to hi@cortes.us for interviews, podcasts, features and I'll be sure to get back to you.

The Product Design Podcast Ep. 15
View →

Workspace featured on Setups Co
View →

Typewolf Site of the Day
View →

Podcast interview on Always Sunday
Listen →

Lapa Ninja Site of the Day
View →

Podcast interview on ta-lk
Listen →

Let's work together

avatar2021small

If you find the content on my website, YouTube, and elsewhere helpful and want to show extra support, you can buy me a coffee here ☕

gengar

© 2012 - 2024