Creative Lives Podcast — Everything is an opportunity: We meet visual designer at Google Health, Dem Gerolemou
On this week’s podcast we sit down with Dem Gerolemou, a visual designer at Google Health. A graduate of Winchester School of Art’s graphic design course, he tells us how a few early stints in branding eventually led him to the world of product design. After interning at digital studio ustwo, Dem found himself working in healthcare as part of the team at AI company, DeepMind. Alongside a multidisciplinary team, for the past few years Dem has worked primarily on Streams – an alerting and general results viewing app to support clinicians in the NHS. Now based at Google’s offices in Kings Cross, we met with Dem to talk about the highs and lows of working in health, the importance of embracing uncertainty and using design to solve real-world problems.
Visual Designer, Google Health
Visual Designer, Google Health (2019–present)
User Interface Designer, Deepmind (2016–2017)
Product Designer, Ustwo (2014–2018)
Design Intern, Moving Brands (2014–2014)
Graphic Design, Winchester School of Art (2011–2014)
When Dem was younger he had an idyllic perception of what it meant to be a designer, it was all about “creating a product or interface that in itself was intrinsically beautiful and spoke for itself” he tells us. However, ever since entering the healthcare space, Dem has learnt that it is about how design can be used to solve a real-time problem – probing him to become “mindful of the bigger picture and less precious about [his] discipline being design, and more about what [he] can do for the users.”
As a graphic design graduate – Dem found himself initially thinking only in the framework of graphic design. He envisioned a future for himself in branding and became increasingly attached to the idea throughout his time at university. This led him to land an internship at creative agency Moving Brands in the summer after graduation. Unbeknown to Dem, this was where he’d come to the tough realisation that perhaps he was pursing a path that wasn’t built for him. He recounts the moment the pin dropped, he tells us “I learnt very quickly that I was not cut out for branding, I really enjoyed the work I did but it didn’t come naturally to me. I felt like a bit of an imposter”.
Dem’s desk at Google Health
At the time, he didn’t think it was an option to “shoehorn [his career in branding] until it fitted.” Luckily for him, during his time at university not only was he exposed to industry experts in the field of graphic design, but he was also introduced to the possibilities of a career in product and UX design. Whether it was conscious or not – Dem had a backup plan that if branding failed he wouldn’t be at a complete loss.
For Dem, changing his mind about his future in design was vital to getting him to where he is now. Soon after leaving his internship at Moving Brands, he applied for another placement at ustwo a number of times before he was finally given a chance as an intern. It all just “clicked” in a way that it hadn’t when he was working in branding. Later working as part of the team at AI company DeepMind, he was able to embrace his innate hunger to make measurable impact in the world through design.
“I really enjoyed [branding] but it didn’t come naturally to me. I felt like a bit of an imposter.”
Fast forward to today and Dem now works as a visual designer at Google Health, working primarily on the Streams app – an alerting and general results viewing app to support clinicians in the NHS. Listen in as we speak to Dem about his work on the app, embracing uncertainty, and the advice he would give to emerging creatives:
“I remember feeling like a small fish in a huge sea; that anything I did would be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But everything is an opportunity. The way you conduct yourself around people on an internship, for example, will be the legacy that you leave. Or the way you do a piece of work for someone will say a lot about the kind of designer you want to be.
Be mindful of who you want to be and where you want to get to. Think about how you can use the challenges you face in your daily life to reach that place. You don’t have to get the best internship or be the best at what you do, it’s more about your attitude towards yourself, towards receiving feedback and communicating with others.”
Google Health homepage