Amber Bravo: What do you see as the through line—the values, parameters, or qualities—that you’re starting to establish as art directors charged with making Google products look like Google? How do you push the boundaries of what kind of art belongs in our ecosystem, while avoiding the purgatory of everything looking the same?
Jefferson Cheng, co-runs the Material Design Imagery Program: We don’t really prescribe a one-size-fits-all style for all of Google. One of our main principles when making decisions is keeping things Googley, which essentially means being intelligent and optimistic.
Emily Blank, co-runs the Material Design Imagery Program: For one of our design sprints we went to the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, and I thought it was so fascinating how through a variety of visual, stylistic elements, you can always tell a Disney movie from another animated film. Still, each movie had its own message, its own creative vision. Something similar is happening right now at Google: We’re creating these suites of imagery to amplify products belonging to several teams, but when they share a quality they fit into a larger story, like a book of chapters.
Shannon May, Art Director and Creative Producer for Ads: But, to your point, you do have to continually pull this lever to find that special weirdness, because otherwise everything does end up looking the same. A lot of other companies look to larger companies like Google or Apple for inspiration and trend-setting. This can water down our visual voice, so it’s our job to keep evolving it, to keep it distinct. For our Stickers program, which runs within messaging apps, we worked with artists from all across the world. What’s great about that is we engaged with artists in different regions and countries, to speak to the specific themes we wanted to communicate.