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How to Draw a Startup

Today's technology is full of illustration: a smiling envelope congratulating you for clearing your inbox, cartoony stickers on your Instagram story, or the emoji in your messages.

But it hasn't always been this way. Over the last decade, illustration has graduated from niche to normal, a standard part of every major tech brand’s visual language. How and why did that happen?

Introducing How to Draw a Startup, a podcast about illustration's boom in the tech industry.

 
 

An opportunity to learn

After graduating with an illustration degree, I spent the first ten years of my career focused on design. Still, I always looked for ways to bring illustration to the forefront, and by mid-2018, that dream became a reality: I was leading illustration at a major financial tech startup.

Of course, getting what you wish for can be daunting! I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the industry and learn how the work is done so that I could do the job right. I spoke to sixteen illustrators, designers, art educators, and other creative leaders who generously shared their invaluable advice and unique experiences.

How to Draw a Startup is a miniseries—seven narrative-style episodes in the spirit of 99% Invisible and Welcome to Macintosh. Each episode mixes history with "how-to," exploring themes such as visual monoculture, brand guidelines, and designing diverse and inclusive characters.

Episodes

Reception & Impact

On his long-running blog Subtraction.com, Khoi Vinh wrote:

Each installment becomes more than just a show; it’s a complete resource, even a lesson in the topic at hand. And the topics that “How to Draw a Startup” takes on are substantive; Grambau dives deep into the gap between aesthetic and systemic visual work, illustration methodology, cultural representation and more. No one has covered this increasingly important nexus between technology and illustration with as much detail and thoughtfulness. What’s more, it’s extremely listenable; as host, Grambau takes pains to tell his stories with clarity and to explain complex or obscure topics in plain language for the uninitiated.

Khoi is Principal Designer at Adobe, the host of Wireframe, and of course, the central guest of my fifth episode, so he may be a bit biased in his review. Still, I'm blushing! How to Draw a Startup was also featured on Episode 78 of Jacky Winter Gives You The Business, a podcast from creative agency The Jacky Winter Group.

The show was a profound labor of love. I wrote, produced, edited, and mixed every episode. I designed the identity, built the website, transcribed every word, and even scored the music. It was a year of long nights and weekends, pushing my technical and creative boundaries, but it was worth every minute.

It's been a thrill to hear from listeners that the show has resonated, educated, and in once case, even helped lead to work. Personally, I can attest that I am better at my job today thanks to my guests' remarkable insights. I hope the show's lessons prove evergreen, continuing to inspire and inform for years to come.

Share the love!

If you enjoy illustration, design, technology, or just good storytelling, please check out the show and share it with a friend!

How to Draw a Startup is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Stitcher, and of course, via RSS.

 
 

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