In this episode, Aidan Simpson interviews Visual Designer Ayan Daniels about her work on Android Messages, her debate-sparking illustration for the Pixel phone, and how to conquer imposter syndrome. Subscribe to get more episodes on Google designers’ creative journeys—directly from Google Play, iTunes, or RSS.
A few highlights:
On her career strategy, 9:48
“I think from a very early point in my career I started seeing myself as a product. I knew that when my resume went across a hiring manager's desk, I wanted them to not have an option but to move me to the next step.”
On being a woman of color at Google, 20:42
"I think it's important that I'm visible. And people know that there are women of color in the design capacity and that we’re pushing along good careers.”
On the process of creating illustrations for the Pixel, 5:33
“There was a lot of debate around if we could show a woman of color being the first person cleaning on this phone. No one realized that I was the one illustrating it, and it became a political issue—[potentially sending the message] that a woman's place is cleaning. And of course I didn't see it that way. I just saw the characters as being part of a team. But it was interesting to take a step back on a higher level and look at it from a marketing perspective to see what that [illustration] would that say about Google's view to the greater community.”
On the impact of anxiety on her design style, 11:08
“I think the lifestyle you live can influence your design. If you're a happy person, you make designs that make people happy. I'm at that point now, but in college you can see it in my portfolio that this is someone who's stressed. There are a lot of blacks and greens and intense angles.”
Handy info and links for this episode:
RCS (Rich Communications Services): a universal communication protocol designed to replace SMS with its more feature-rich system.
Android Messages: The default RCS messaging app on Android devices.
Duo: Google’s one-to-one video calling app.
Allo: An expressive, AI-infused messaging app made by Google.
The Pixel Welcome screen designed by Ayan and animated by Remington McElhaney.
Ayan Daniels is a San Francisco-based Visual Designer hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently working on the Android Messages team, Ayan has been at Google for more than two years and previously worked on both Android and Pixel.