Posted on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 by Allison Byers
For most design school graduates, it’s a dream come true to produce work that is seen by millions. For Zach Gibson (MFA Design 2011) and Jefferson Cheng (Graphic Design 2005), it’s an everyday reality working in the art department at Google.
Google’s Art Department
Gibson and Cheng work on visual design for all products, including design for logos, icons, infographics, posters, etc., while also ensuring visual assets are consistent across products.
“The art department is a small team here at Google that functions as a sort of internal design agency,” says Gibson. “There’s only a handful of people in the art department, but we collaborate with various product teams around the world, making our network pretty big.”
More than Just Free Food and Nap Pods
Working at one of the biggest tech companies in the world has its perks: “The perks you often hear about at Google are nice; like free food and transportation,” says Gibson. “And no, I’ve never seen nap pods!”
“It’s obvious to say that the free food would be the biggest perk,” says Cheng. “But the most rewarding aspect of working here would be the camaraderie I have with my fellow team. Our diverse backgrounds and interests yield interesting and gratifying conversations in terms of design and culture.”
Gibson echoes, “Our team is small, but full of talented amazing people. We are all friends and share a similar appreciation for good design. It’s amazing to think about the millions of people who see, touch, and click our graphics every day.”
From CCA to Google
Both Cheng and Gibson studied design at CCA: Cheng in the undergraduate Graphic Design Program and Gibson in the Graduate Program in Design. “My first internship was actually in Sputnik at CCA, led by Bob Aufuldish,” says Cheng. “After I graduated from CCA I interned and eventually became employed at Tamotsu Yagi Design (famed art director for Esprit in the 1980s).”
After about three and a half years there, and another year and a half at Sequence LLC, Cheng was recommended to join Google’s art department by a friend who was already employed there.
Gibson was also recruited by a friend at Google and advises, “Keep in touch with the people you go to school with, work with, and friends in the industry . . . you never know, they may hire you one day!”
After graduating, Gibson worked professionally for a couple of years, including internships and jobs at MTV, Hot Studio (founded by CCA Design faculty member Maria Giudice), and Shepard Fairey’s design agency, Studio Number One.
CCA Education Prepares Alums for Career Challenges
“It is a good time to be a designer at Google right now,” says Gibson. “In my opinion, there is a growing appreciation and an enthusiastic demand for creative excellence right now.
“The art department’s greatest challenge is in setting up a foundation for good design by defining creative excellence and then figuring out ways to transcend that definition.”
Cheng and Gibson acknowledge CCA for helping them successfully meet this career challenge.
“My education at CCA prepared me to be able to have an internal dialogue and keep on questioning and digging to get to the essence of what I am designing,” says Cheng. “And to be able to carry out that dialogue to your peers and clients, while still having room for your design to evolve and grow.”
“CCA was a place for me to think and explore the philosophical side of making images and develop a methodology for visual thinking and exploration,” Gibson says.
“This has helped me to talk about my work and to explore alternative approaches to the common understanding of graphic design as prescribing solutions.”