Episode 70 – Ced Funches
Executive Design Director, Design Brand Identity at Vox Media Inc
How would you describe your job to somebody who is outside of the design and tech world?
I help guide the brand identity team. We build the standards, rules, and creative brand expression for our team to breathe life and souls into our brands at Vox
How long have you been there at Vox?
I started August 2016. I was a speaker at one of their company retreats in 2015 where I spoke about work-life balance. I’ve very familiar with the company and their brands; I loved SB Nation and wanted to see it grow so once they wanted to expand their design organizations they offered me a job.
How did you get into your current career?
My first gig was as a designer/ art director for the Minnesota Timberwolves. So, at 19, I was working in the NBA. I used to work for the Timberwolves and Lynx for seven years. I then got to work in video games and a variety of different things that forced me to expand my horizon into programming and product design.
Did you have any preconceptions about the industry before you got into it, and has that shifted over time?
Yeah. When you’re young, you don’t know anything about it, but I didn’t realize how close minded [and prejudiced] the design industry was. There were and still continue to be challenging moments in my design career.
You have to think, that you are trying to break in from the standpoint of an Ad Agency [that is the world that it all of it stems from]. To make your mark, you have to be ready for politics, some pettiness which requires you work on your soft skills. You’d have to know how to move and flow, and I didn’t know that from the beginning.
Have there ever been any obstacles in getting to where you are now, and how did you overcome them?
Absolutely. Being an accomplished designer who is a minority can be intimidating to some people. When you’re good, I hear a lot of designers say people think that they can come off cocky and arrogant. In the NBA, I was working at such a high level; it’s the equivalent of working in Hollywood. If you’ve worked on Marvel’s blockbuster movies for ten years and then you go and work at a junior playwright academy, you would seem cocky; but you’re only saying, “No, I know what it takes to make billion dollar movies.”
The majority of my career has been filled with individuals who assume as a person of color; I obviously have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. (laughs) You have to accept that it is, without a doubt going to happen and still try to create the best experiences possible.
What tips would you give to any of our readers who aspire to get to what you’ve achieved? Let’s imagine they are in High School or College.
Be good, be really-really good. You should be better than everybody else. Whatever that means for you and your craft. You got to have your game on point because people may try and undermine you.
In my position, I am confident that I can back up what I say by just opening up my computer and creating a top level design. To achieve at a high level, you have to be able to do that.
Unfortunately, the system is stacked against you, and you’re never going to win by oral arguments, it’s a waste of time. Do the work. I use the example of an owner who wants to build a stadium in the city. What he would do is, get an architect, and the architect would construct the stadium, do 3D renders and make a real 3D version of what that stadium is going to look like, and then present it to the city. Down to the minute details. Prove yourself. A lot of people think they can win by conversations. Do I want to win this discussion? Do I want to win this argument? Or do I want to move the ball of my career down the road?
Any shameless plugs?
You can find the outcome of my work with Vox Media through all of our brands, SB Nation, Vox.com, Eater, different brands and properties like that which are underneath the Vox Media umbrella. What my goals are is that the public starts to see is a consistently thoughtful vision and how we approach not only design but how we approach the entire brand promise of what we deliver. That’s my day job. I’m also a new father. Currently my favorite job.