Today’s Role Model is Fanny Luor. Fanny studied to be a graphic designer but eventually bamboozled her way into becoming an illustrator. She likes to work on projects that occupy the space between these two roles, and is fortunate enough to have a job that allows for that. When she’s off the clock, she’s usually watching Netflix or video game streams while she works on one of the many side projects she’s juggling.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
My official title is illustrator at Dropbox. I’ve been in this role for four years and then some. I’m basically a fossil in tech industry years.
What attracted you to this illustrator role?
To be honest, I had no idea this role even existed. When I was looking for jobs after my internship, I was fortunate enough to have a friend pass along my portfolio. I was so nervous going in for my interview because some preliminary research yielded information about all the talented folks I’d be working with — it was intimidating to say the least. Thankfully, everyone I spoke to was exceptionally chill and kind and I guess I did alright ’cause I’m still here! After joining I came to realize just how much standing Dropbox has in the design and tech community, which makes me feel even luckier to be here.
Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?
If there are no morning meetings, I stumble into work around 10 or 10:30 am. I grab a cup of coffee or tea and boot up my computer as I attempt to mentally boot up myself. Mornings are usually spent checking and responding to emails (I’m slightly obsessive about maintaining a tidy inbox), and outlining what today’s goals are and what steps I need to take to achieve them. By now it’s time for lunch, which I eat with my coworkers, without fail, at noon every day.
After lunch I grab my second caffeinated beverage of the day and hunker down for some deep focus work, assuming I have no meetings (which thankfully, isn’t often). This could mean anything from gathering inspiration for mood boards, sketching, setting up a photo shoot, finalizing an illustration… you name it! I take an afternoon snack break (you can tell I hold food time very dear), after which I wrap up whatever it is I’m working on. I try to console myself with the fact that I can’t finish everything and some things are OK to leave to tomorrow.
What skills/technologies help you succeed?
As an illustrator I use the standard suite of Adobe products, (Illustrator, Photoshop) as well as an iPad/Procreate for quick digital sketching. For more experimental projects I try to make use of analog materials and techniques like graphite, pen and ink, collage, risograph printing, etc.
The main skill that’s served me well over the years has been a willingness to learn and try new things. It’s easy to get stuck in the same routine and process. Taking whatever opportunity I can to try something new helps keep me engaged in the process and grow as a creative.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your illustrator role?
Cross-functional collaboration to create new images and illustrations that I wouldn’t have been able to come up with on my own — working with visual designers, developers, photographers, product designers, and writers has generated more interesting results than I could ever create solo.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
Successfully communicating my vision to those around me. As a creative, it’s always challenging to present your work in such a way that others can visualize what you see in your head. Also time-management! When you’re constantly generating creative work, it’s important to build in enough time for ideas to bake properly so you can create your best stuff.
What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?
Basically every project I work on is cross-functional. I work with product designers and UX writers to create illustrations for our various products, I work with other designers and creatives on editorial images, and I work on blog illustrations with our marketing and communications team.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your illustrator role?
I’d like to be able to relate my illustration skills to our brand strategy as a whole. In doing so, I hope to set and guide the direction of projects rather than just fulfill a need as an individual contributor.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
Empathy and willingness to listen, assuming the best of intentions, ability to communicate clearly, open to feedback and trying new things.
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this role?
My ability to articulate my ideas and present them in a way that makes sense to stakeholders, my public speaking skills for when I’ve had to present on behalf of my team, so many creative techniques learned via my teammates (printing, photography, digital image manipulation, the list goes on).
In your illustrator role, what metrics define success?
Metrics and creative work have a tricky relationship. I prefer qualitative data over quantitative data. It’s easier to obtain and speaks more to a brand’s overarching purpose of striking an emotional chord with people. While illustrations have been shown to move the needle on business objectives, I find more joy in hearing that a certain illustration made someone smile or a team loved it so much they wanted to immortalize it in sticker or sweater form.
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