Creative Lives — Dropbox Design’s Becca Wang on designing for community and telling visual stories
A crucial part of the Dropbox Design team, Becca Wang helps the company tell stories in a visual way. Working mostly across internal projects, Becca’s days can vary quite drastically; she could could be working on everything from campaigns for Black History Month and Women’s History Month to creating visually appealing internal decks for the group. A 2014 graduate of the design and media arts at UCLA, Becca worked in a variety of design-related roles before finally finding herself at Dropbox’s door in 2018. From working with her hands to working on screens, here, Becca tells us about some of her favourite projects, and why you shouldn’t write off the “obscure things that make you tick”.
Visual Communications Designer, Dropbox Design (2018–present)
UI/UX designer, Neogov (2016–2018)
Founder, Passage Paper (2016)
Designer, Factual (2014–2016)
Design intern, Adobe (2013)
BA Design & Media Arts, UCLA (2010–2014)
What I do
How would you describe what you do at Dropbox Design?
I help teams tell stories visually – whether it’s an all-hands deck or an in-office branding campaign for Black History Month. My job responsibilities are sort of split in half: a lot of the time, I’m working with the communications team to bring life to internal communications, make them visually compelling, and most importantly, easy to comprehend.
The other half of the time, I’m working on internal projects that celebrate, educate, or inspire the employees at Dropbox. Because my work is internal (and sometimes confidential!), you’ll probably never see most of the work that I do, but it’s super rewarding to design for the community around me.
If you could pick any emoji to describe what it’s like to work at Dropbox Design, what would it be and why?
These eyeballs are a perfect representation of me being in awe (and humbled!) by the work of the designers around me. I’ve always struggled with imposter syndrome and sometimes that makes me incredibly nervous when I’m facing a challenge that I don’t think I can handle. But I’ve had the best mentorship and support from my teammates and manager, which has slowly given me more confidence over the years.
How did you land the job?
I feel like my interview process actually started a couple years before I even applied. A recruiter reached out to me back in 2016 for another design position, but at the time I had already committed to a job in LA. I vowed to come back to it the next time I was job searching.
In 2018, when I was feeling ready to move back to San Francisco, I reached back out in the same email thread and asked if I could apply for the one design position open on the website. Because the job description was a little mysterious, I didn’t really know 100% what it entailed, but what I did know was that I wanted to be at Dropbox! I’d always admired their design and illustration team and knew that I’d be able to learn a lot from just being there.
“I didn’t really know 100% what [the job] entailed, but what I did know was that I wanted to be at Dropbox!”
I was stunned when they asked if I wanted to fly to San Francisco to interview. I was given a design challenge to create a 10-slide deck that would introduce their 2018 rebrand and I was given two days to do it. It was a stressful weekend, but I remember the moment I walked through the front doors of the office, I hoped and prayed that it wouldn’t be the last time I’d set foot in there.
The interview process was great; I remember feeling super-nervous but everyone who was in the room was so supportive.
Work by the Dropbox Design team
Work for Dropbox Design
Work by the Dropbox Design team
What recent project at Dropbox Design are you most proud of?
It’s hard to pick one. I really enjoyed working on the ERG campaigns (i.e. Black History Month, LatinX history month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (API), Women’s History Month) that usually take the form of screen designs, physical installations, physical posters that feature portraits and stories, and custom apparel and swag.
In some ways it can be intimidating to be entrusted with the responsibility to do justice to these cultures, especially if they’re not your own. But I’ve loved partnering with each group and listening closely, so that I can try to capture the essence of their stories in the purest way possible.
For API (Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage) month I remember hand-making collages for each poster; layering sheets of printed vellum onto the posters so that the photos looked like they were floating off. For LatinX month, I experimented with ‘moving portraits’ by layering static typography over slow-motion video. At first glance you’d think that you were looking at a still image, but on second glance you’d see the subtle shifting of people in the portrait.
What’s your favourite thing on your desk right now?
I have a little plastic doll I got from Japan that responds to your voice; when you ask it a question, it either nods its head or shakes it. I use it as a Magic 8-Ball sometimes.
Becca’s favourite thing on her desk right now? This little plastic doll from Japan
How I got here
Did you complete a degree, and has this been helpful to your work?
I received a bachelor’s degree in a general design and media program. I originally intended on going to a private art school for illustration, but ended up at UCLA because of tuition costs.
I liked the experience of being at a big university, but it was a little tough exiting school because I felt like I had dabbled in every field but hadn’t mastered any of them. Personally, I felt like I learned a lot from the work I did outside of school, and non-design related classes I took in psychology, science, and art history.
Looking for some uplifting inspiration? Becca reccomends Niall Breen’s comics on Instagram
What advice would you give an emerging creative wanting to do the same kind of work?
Trust your gut. Your intuition is stronger than you think. Be patient with yourself – you don’t need to accomplish everything you want to do (i.e. get that job, work at that place) by 25. Don’t write off the obscure things that make you tick – find a way to lean into those interests. They’ll come in handy somehow later.
If you could share one image, recommend one website, Instagram account or similar – what would it be and why?
@niall.breen.comics is just a wonderful account full of wholesome, wonkily-drawn comics. An oasis in times of joylessness.
Dropbox Design is a Lecture in Progress company partner. Every year, Lecture in Progress partners with like-minded brands and agencies to support our initiative and keep Lecture in Progress a free resource for students and emerging creatives. To find out more about how you can work with us, email [email protected]
This interview is part of a series of articles profiling Dropbox Design. See the In the Studio With interview here.