Episode 83

Here Come the ⌘-C Cats

This week on Overtime, we break down a new, unconventional design trend for political campaigns that has everybody wanting to do the same thing. Plus, Meg tries to uncover the mysterious 👁️️👄👁️ , and Noah Camp stops by to chat about overcoming imposter syndrome and the power of leaning on support to find your way as a creative.

As we know, the stakes are extremely high in political design. If somebody does something that’s different, it's a risk.

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Meg: Hey baby, hey baby, hey baby, hey! It’s me, your host Meg “[Singing] She’s Running Out of Ideas for This, She’s Running Out of Ideas for This” Lewis, and hello, hello, welcome, welcome, welcome. Welcome back to Overtime, this is, do I need to say this part? I don’t know. Do I need to keep saying this is Dribbble’s weekly podcast where I cover design news and give you the tips you need to create your very best work? I have no idea. It seems very repetitive and now I have it totally memorized and say it so fast. Do I need to keep saying it? I don’t know. This week on Overtime, a political candidate does something different for once and then, of course, everyone starts doing that too, and now the landscape looks the same again. Ooh, plus, 👁️ 👄 👁️ (Eye Mouth Eye)! What is that? Oh, sweet Meg, it is what it is. Oh, and 3D artist Noah Camp bops on in to talk about imposter syndrome and the power of leaning on support to find your way as a creative.

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Meg: Okay, so I don’t really think that I’ve been too political, I mean, everything’s political, isn’t it? But literally talking about politics? Haven’t done that much. But I kind of want to cover something because I think this is fascinating and it pertains to design. So, we all know of politician, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, correct? Also known as AOC, which I will also refer to her as AOC in this episode. So, she is the candidate who ran the race back in 2018, and also just got reelected (congratulations) for New York City Congress representing the 14th District, which is the district that’s split between the Bronx and Queens. And whenever AOC launched her first campaign back in 2018, maybe 2017, I don’t remember, it was like it was so visually different from most politician’s design system.

But also, she was and is just so different. You know, there are a lot of reasons why she’s different. I think for me, as a woman, it was really wonderful to see a woman politician who was, I don’t know, not adhering to the box of what a politician usually looks or acts like that’s a woman when it comes to like very structured pants suits and, you know, an extremely curated way of speaking. I think all politicians do all of that. She is, and was, younger than most. She was just a lot more relatable. I think a lot of people, especially in the district she’s representing, but you know, even women everywhere, you know, we’re like, “Wait a minute, maybe I could do this.” Obviously, AOC is way smarter than me. I don’t think I could do it. But relatability is what I’m talking about.

But as far as the design system goes, her campaign design was utilizing a color palette that was atypical. We all know that the usual political color palette is blue and red, but AOC used purple and yellow, which is complimentary, but very unusual. The type system on the campaign design was all caps, impactful type that was rotated and sheared. And a lot of the campaign imagery featured a headshot of Alexandria that was, she was sort of gazing upward, optimistically. And the text, the impactful, rotated sheared type was emphasized by backgrounds of speech bubbles that were kind of highlighting and making some of the text pop.

So, in looking through this, Fast Company did a nice article breakdown of the design system and everything, and they highlighted the fact that an agency called Tandem is in charge and was in charge of that 2018 campaign design. And so, Tandem kind of gives a little bit of information about why they, you know, reached this point, and why they made these decisions. And basically, they determined that yellow or gold is actually the third American color. I’m excluding white because white’s not a color. I don’t know, I never – did I take a color theory class? Uh-oh! I don’t think white is a color, is it? I don’t know. I’m so sorry. Don’t be mad at me. So, in the American color palette, we have red and blue for sure. And then usually, when you think of Americana imagery, there’s always some gold tossed in there, some shiny gold, and so Tandem made the realization that yellow/gold is kind of like the extension of the American color palette. So, they used that, and then purple is complimentary to yellow. Again, I don’t know that much about color theory, I work with colors every day. But I don’t know what I’m doing, clearly.

So anyway, they chose all of these things – the upward sheared, rotated type, the optimistic gaze upward, all of that is to communicate optimism, and this, you know, progressive grassroots candidate that makes you feel optimistic. And this all does that. I agree, it definitely does. And I think the cool thing, you know, like I’m always saying to you, I’m a huge fan of, you know, pushing against boundaries of what a label usually pre-defines for you, and AOC has definitely done that, and this campaign design has definitely done that. Because, as we know, the stakes are extremely high in political design. If you do something that’s too weird, you’re going to turn people off and then you might lose the campaign just because of your weird design, oh my gosh, it’s so high stakes. And so, it’s a really big deal. So, if somebody does something that’s different, it is a risk. We know this.

And AOC has been very different. Everything about her campaign, everything about her, you know, her personality is different. Everything she’s doing is very different from what we traditionally see in the, prescribed qualities of what a political candidate in this country is like. So, it’s been very exciting to see somebody visually doing something different and taking that risk, and I think that’s really cool.

And as you can tell where this is going, everyone else has agreed with that. So, every other politician and designer that’s working on political campaigns is like, “Well, AOC has done something different and it works really well, so we’ll just do that too.” And of course, this is this is the world. This is how design works. If the first person is willing to take the risk, and then the rest of the world sees that that risk paid off and it worked, then everyone’s just going to be like, “Okay, we can also take that exact same risk now. We will.” So, of course, what’s happening now is that there are a lot of copycat visual campaigns out there. And this is happening all over the world. There’s the deputy mayor of Paris had a campaign that looked very similar. There was even a candidate in North Wales that had a very similar visual campaign. It’s happening all over, and Tandem, the original agency that designed AOC’s campaign design, they admit, of course, they’re not doing anything totally original here, like the rotated sheared type has been done before, speech bubbles [have been] done before, upward gaze [has been] done before. But I think it’s the larger campaign message, the larger strategy visually here, and it had so much thought behind it. Now, I think a lot of these other candidates and other designers working with these candidates are just like, “Well, it worked for AOC, so we’ll just kind of replicate that.” It makes sense.

And now this visual strategy has become basically the visual language for grassroots progressive candidates, which is so fascinating to me. And so, even though there are not that many, you know, verbatim copycats, just there are a few. There are a lot of candidates that are gaining a lot of traction that are definitely inspired by AOC’s design system. So, like, Isaiah James in New York also used sort of an upward gaze headshot with impactful type using yellow. Charles Booker in Kentucky, who just ran for senate, used a yellow background with some rotated bold type with pop-y background colors, yellow, of course, is involved. And so, Tandem is not angry about this by the way, I think they think it’s wonderful that they’ve had a part in this. But people obviously send them things of like, this candidate is using your design system or whatever. This is inspired by the work you did, and that kind of thing.

And so, they’ve collected over, I think, 20 examples, which include things like book covers, or even there’s one where it’s an Italian PSA for wearing masks due to COVID. That definitely was very inspired by this campaign design. And, I don’t know, like, I think it’s a curious thing to think about if it’s good or bad to basically be inspired by other people’s work. I would like to think that there’s a world where every candidate can have a unique design system that pertains to their extremely specific personality and points of view, but again, political campaign design is high risk. Yikes. I don’t blame people for wanting to be safe. But we’ve got to congratulate the candidates that are willing to be the first ones to take risks, because that’s really, really hard.

I’m so excited to talk about this next story. So, I record these episodes a few days before they launch. So, I’ll be completely transparent, I’m recording this episode on Friday morning and this episode launches on Wednesday. So, it’s a few days before it launches, and the news is constantly changing, and I think the story that I’m about to cover is going to constantly change so much. But I’m hoping that you just think I’m so sweet, and it’s going to be really nice for you to look back on the naiveté of Friday morning.

So, I want to talk to you about 👁️ 👄 👁️, which, maybe you’re already just so tired of hearing about it. I don’t know, it’s Friday morning for me, so I don’t know what your state of mind is on Wednesday or later in the week. What is 👁️ 👄 👁️? Well, apparently it is what it is. And I’m reporting on this story before I have really any information because at this point nobody does, it’s Friday morning. Apparently, we’re supposed to find out more information this evening at like, I think 6pm pacific time. But that is hours from now, so I’m just scrambling to try to figure out what’s going on. But I think everybody else is too, so let me give a breakdown of where we’re at, according to Friday morning.

So, there’s a brand perhaps, product perhaps, movement perhaps, called 👁️ 👄 👁️, which is just a string of three emojis, the eye, the mouth, and the eye. And their tagline is, “It is what it is.” And so, anytime anyone asks what 👁️ 👄 👁️ is, because their website gives you no information, their social media presence gives you no information, so anytime anybody asks what it is, everybody on the internet responds, “It is what it is,” which I think is adorable. And so, in trying to dive into what’s going on here, what’s happening, this is my guess. This is my hypothesis, and now that it’s many days later for you listening to this, you can tell me if I’m right or if I’m wrong.

My hunch is that it’s just a little fun, performance-based piece poking fun at like, the launch and other just viral invite only launches. And I think that 👁️ 👄 👁️ is playing on memetic patterns. So, it seems like right now, people are just happy to be a part of something that doesn’t cost them anything, and it’s light-hearted neutral, without causing any harm, at least [not] yet. It’s not causing harm as far as Friday morning goes. People on the internet are claiming they have early access to 👁️ 👄 👁️, and they’re giving out invites. Some people are claiming that you can get to the top of the invite list faster if you donate to a specific Black Lives Matter organization. And people are donating, everybody wants to get that invite that might not even ever happen. Who knows? I don’t know, it’s Friday morning. So, I’ve also noticed that people are claiming they work for 👁️ 👄 👁️ in their Twitter bios, maybe that’s real, maybe they do, but I don’t know. Probably not. People are also posting screenshots of the 👁️ 👄 👁️ product. Is that real? I don’t know. My favorite part about all of this is that Forbes launched an article trying to figure out what it is, and you could tell it’s really frustrating for them. They just they just want to know what it is. And so, the article is titled, “What is 👁️ 👄 👁️? Oh, it is what it is.”

I love that it really is working. Like it’s playing on a lot of the things that people want. They want to be a part of something, they want to see an inside look at something, they want to be, you know, one of the people that gets invited to an exclusive thing. And also, it’s playing on memetic things. It’s playing on, you know, memes, and how people like to share things and be a little silly. The fact that everybody’s putting the eye, the mouth, and the eye in their Twitter name, ah, it’s so funny to me. And then of course, you get the people that are hating on the fact that it’s something that’s just popular and that people are into, because there’s always the people that hate things that people like, right? So, then there’s people that are like, “This is stupid,” or they’re on Twitter saying they’re muting the eye, the mouth, and the eye, and “It is what it is.” It’s just classic internet. This is like, textbook what the internet does. And that’s why I like this so much because it’s just highlighting the pure definition of the internet in 2020. It’s just, ooh, it’s so good. And normally, whenever I’m like, “Oh, this is highlighting the internet in 2020,” it’s normally a bad thing, and this is not bad. It’s pretty, just like, neutral, lighthearted. So, I’m totally into it. I love a little bit of nonsense.

So, in the Forbes article, there is this beautiful quote. So, they wrote the article and they were like, “We don’t know what it is.” They’re speculating a lot and all their speculations are probably wrong, but I can’t say for sure. But at the end, there’s an update that just happened. And in the update, there’s this beautiful quote, they say, quote, “We crave the sense of affiliation stripped from our lives by isolation, and a break from home life’s monotony. In this moment, what could be more tempting than a secret society behind a locked door – a mystery that leaves you 👁️ 👄 👁️.” I used my soothing voice for that quote because it was a very soothing quote. I was soothed reading it.

Also, Product Hunt popped that baby up there on their website and it’s quickly rising to the top of Product Hunt, and people are in the comments of Product Hunt on there, like, “You know what? People work really hard on their products to launch them, and yet this thing that is probably nothing is rising to the top above those.” And of course, for those commenters, everyone’s responding to them with, “It is what it is.” It’s just the perfect troll that the world needs at this time in 2020 and Product Hunt, in their tweet, actually claims that it is perhaps the most talked about launch of 2020. So, 👁️ 👄 👁️, is it a product? Is it a joke? Well, it is what it is.

Meg: For those of you who don’t know, I’m a part of a very small artists management agency called Co-Loop. We are a tiny group of commercial artists with a great friendship. We meet and chat regularly, we collaborate as often as possible, but most importantly, everyone in the group is just so good at what they do. I have so much to learn from them. But we’re always trying to find our way and I love our group the most because we help each other with the real problems we’re facing as individuals in our careers and our lives. One of the Co-Loop artists that I just feel so lucky to know and to be a part of his life is Noah camp. Noah is a 3D artist and illustrator who also does some incredible lettering work. And every time I get a chance to hang out with Noah, things get real squishy real fast, so I’ve been excited to make him come here and chat with me about identity within work and imposter syndrome and really just all the squishy things that we’re really all feeling inside. So here he is right now, it’s Noah Camp. Hi, Noah, hello!

Noah: Hi, Meg.

Meg: I’m so excited to finally talk to you.

Noah: Yes. Thank you for having me on.

Meg: Of course, and for people that aren’t familiar with your work that are listening currently, why don’t you just kind of explain however you want to, it can take as long as you need it to take, explain to the world what it is that you do.

Noah: Well, I was born … (laughs) I am a 3D artist, I’ve worked for big clients now, like Target, Instagram, you know, have you heard of those? I’m not sure. And it’s been a long journey to get here and I never thought it would happen. So, you know, my medium is 3D, but I think what I’m passionate about is just being an artist of any kind and making your career up all by yourself and with the help of others.

Meg: Yeah, there’s so much I want to unpack there. Already, I have so many things I want to ask you. So, I think you mentioned something about how you never thought that you’d be here doing this, and this is not what you imagined for yourself. So, when you were younger, what kind of a career did you imagine?

Noah: Well, my security question… No, actually, I shouldn’t say that, I’d have to change it. But it’s, you know, your childhood dream job. It was art teacher, and I got pretty jaded along the way, and I went into music instead because I just couldn’t hand anything in on time for art. And music, you just kind of showed up and you performed, and you know, as long as you weren’t late to the performance, you were good enough. So, I went to music school, so I didn’t plan on having a career in art. But I know that I loved it as a child, of course, I was always drawing. I didn’t draw for 10 years, though, before I started my career now.

Meg: So, I think that there’s a lot of talk about identity here that I’m noticing with you, especially with becoming an artist, calling yourself an artist, allowing yourself to do that, calling yourself a 3D artist, a 3D designer as well. So, I know too, whenever you looked up to your career and thought about what you wanted to be doing, you never thought you’d be here. So how long specifically have you been freelancing as a 3D artist

Noah: Since 2015. Actually, that’s not true because I learned 3D in 2015.

Meg: It counts.

Noah: So, I would say a year after that is when I started to get paid to make 3D art. So, before then it was lettering, so I’d say since 2015 I’ve been freelancing, not full time. So, full time I’ve been a freelancer for two years.

Meg: Okay. Did there ever, like, I I’ve struggled with this off and on throughout my career, was there ever a time when you probably were 3D artist, but you didn’t feel like you could call yourself that yet?

Noah: I mean, I had a hard time calling myself an artist at all. And to be paid to do art was just unfathomable, so 3D artist specifically, I could say yes, I’m an artist that works in 3D. The problem is not the medium itself, it’s calling oneself, you know, an artist. If you don’t have any clients, you’re not being paid to do that thing, it’s very hard to call yourself an artist. The only requirement to be an artist is to make art and I really had to learn that the hard way, and I really still find that I didn’t feel comfortable calling myself an artist until I was paid for it. Before then, it was very uncomfortable, I still tried. You know, I still tried to call myself that because that was a big part of the journey was the, you know, what you tell yourself. It’s really important the words you use for yourself, at yourself, towards yourself, because it is a very emotional journey to be paid to be creative and to work towards being paid to be creative.

Meg: Yeah, and that’s a really great point because I know as a freelancer myself, your sense of worth is tied to brands validating you and companies saying we want to work with you, we want to pay you. I really struggle with that, especially now during COVID when I lost all of my freelance clients, like there’s just no work. Nobody’s emailing me. And it’s definitely given me a lot of, you know, self-deprecating thoughts and thinking, “Oh, the world has moved on without me, I’m irrelevant, nobody likes me anymore just because clients don’t want me,” so it’s hard as freelancers, I think because we’re so used to letting the emails from prospective clients to validate our sense of self-worth.

Noah: Yeah, imposter syndrome is something that really comes up with the lack of external validation. You know, the imposter syndrome being this idea that we are a fraud if, you know, we’re not being paid, or we’re a fraud, like someone’s going to find us out and discover that we don’t know what we’re doing. And so now with the pandemic hitting, it’s like, “Oh no, everyone is discovering I’m a fraud. That’s why no one’s emailing me, you know, I really am not good at what I do.” And, to know that someone like Maya Angelou thought that, and Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe, it’s just amazing that that’s just part of it. Like these feelings are all part of it.

We all think like, I mean, I have thought, I don’t want to say other people have thought, but I have thought that someone who’s successful, they don’t ever have these feelings like that. They don’t ever doubt themselves, you know, that they always have clients knocking on the door. And that is just assuming, you know, assumptions really get us in trouble. And it’s sometimes enough to make us want to quit. Like, I know people who have quit because they just succumb to imposter syndrome. Absolutely. And I think the only difference between me and them is that I just looked at it and I said, “Okay,” well, I googled it first, then I talked to peers, I actually talked to coaches first, because I was too afraid to reach out to my peers. And they told me it was normal. And then I started to realize how normal all my feelings were. Then I talked to my peers. And everyone feels it. Absolutely. Everyone who is working on their own, who is creating for potential money, or for money, they are going through these feelings. And that was the difference between me and someone who quit. That’s it.

Meg: Yeah, oh my gosh. And too, I know that there’s a lot of fear around imposter syndrome and a fear of like, “Oh, I’ll never get hired again. You know, I’m not good, this is scary. How will I pay my rent?” I’ve definitely been through periods, many periods, I’m actively going through one right now, where I’ve let it prevent me from moving at all. And I’ve let it kind of get in my way so much to where I can’t move. And then, depending on my mood at the time, sometimes I’m able to allow fear to be the thing that drives me to succeed and I let it fuel me and make me push harder. And I don’t know if that’s healthy either, but I think yes, I think you’re doing a great job of bringing up the point that just normalizing it, making sure that everyone knows that it is very normal to feel this way, because I even sometimes see people, you know, claiming that imposter syndrome is a trendy phrase. And that just really bums me out because it really is real, and it is something that we’re all actively constantly dealing with.

Noah: Yeah, it’s kind of like, to put it in the same category is funny, but influencer is a trendy phrase. But guess what? It’s real. It’s a real way of making money for some people, so you better get on board. It’s like back when, “Oh, computers!” That’s real, that exists, it’s time to get on board. You don’t necessarily have to succumb to imposter syndrome, you don’t have to just bow to it, but it is very important to realize when it’s there. I mean, if you don’t realize that that’s what it is, it manifests in these ways of like, “Oh, maybe I should make a career change.” Or, you know, “Maybe I’m not making enough money at this. This is probably a sign I shouldn’t be doing this anymore.” And that’s imposter syndrome, too. It just doesn’t look exactly like, “Hey, Noah, you’re a fraud. Someone’s going to find you out.” Like, you don’t necessarily have those specific thoughts. They manifest in different ways.

Meg: That’s really, that’s a very good point because, yes, I’ve felt all of those, I feel them all today. You mentioned something that I think is really important because I’ve also sought out coaching as well. How has that been impactful to you? Because I feel like coaching is also something that’s quite trendy right now, but I don’t want to invalidate it because I coach people as well, so I think that it’s extremely important. It’s been really valuable to me to, like, while a lot of these coaches that are out there are not certified, you know, they didn’t go to school for this, but I think it’s been really helpful for me to just talk to someone who I look up to that clearly knows just a little bit more about something than I do so that I can seek them out for advice. How has it been helpful for you?

Noah: Well, yeah, you bring up a good point there that there is no certification, so it’s hard to trust people. And I’ve definitely had good coaches and I’ve had bad coaches. You know, I’ve had really good therapists and I’ve had really bad therapists. I mean, and those therapists have degrees, you know, they have certifications, and they still are terrible – thank you, my therapist that’s so good, Linda, love you – but I think that what it really comes down to is finding a coach that works for you. And it’s not so important that they have all of these years under their belt, it’s just that they know sometimes that that’s all we want, is just someone who knows a little bit more, you know, industry specific (information). And I think that you know, it can be a broad, like, creative coach that that helped me, but it also could be this very specific, like, lettering coach at one time, and it really depends on what you need at the time. And some coaches you can work with for years and some you just talk to once and you’re like, “Okay, that was good, but I think I need something else.”

Meg: So, you also offer coaching now, don’t you?

Noah: Yes, I do! Yeah, I offer 30 minute and hour sessions, and we can pretty much talk about anything. However, I really think it’s about the feeling, so I’m going to get you to talk about the feeling behind it. Now, you know, we could talk about pricing and all that jazz, but what that really does come down to is, because everyone’s different, it really comes down to building your trust in yourself to make the right decisions and to learn how to really feel it out for yourself. So, sorry to say we’re going to talk about feelings.

Meg: Well, if anybody’s been listening to this conversation at all, the feelings are what drives everything that we do, every decision that we make. So, it’s such an important, foundational step that you find someone who you get along with, who you’ve read with, who you feel like you’re on the same page with, and like you said, you know, you try them out once, if it works out then great, keep talking to them. But you don’t need to put so much pressure on it working the first time with the first person because it’s really all about getting as many perspectives as possible and starting to learn what types of perspectives have worked really well for you and are really motivational for you.

Noah: Yeah, and I really think it’s important that people offer confidentiality. I mean, these people could be your peers, I got coaching from a couple people that are now my peers, and I think that’s a good sign, but to know that, like, “Oh, they could say I was struggling with this.” So, I just want to make it really clear, and I will make it clear, that confidentiality is absolutely part of it. You can really talk about anything that you’re insecure about. I think that that’s really important to trust that what you’re going through is not ever going to come back to bite you.

Meg: Oh my gosh, yes. And so much of creating a successful relationship whenever you’re talking about feelings is creating a safe space where people feel like they can explore who they are and express who they are and kind of experiment with what that means for them. So that way you can help them through that process, so that way once they’re outside of the coaching experience, they can be a lot more confident and just be more comfortable exploring who they are and try to expand their safe space one person at a time.

Noah: Yes.

Meg: So, thank you so much, Noah. I mean, as far as coaching goes, your work goes, where can everybody find you on the internet?

Noah: I am @noahcampdesign on Instagram, and and through, you can find my coaching, but it should be pretty apparent once you get to the website.

Meg: Alright, thank you, Noah.

Noah: Thank you for having me.

Meg: Well, okay then, we did it. We did another one. That’s the end of this here episode of Overtime!

And we’ll talk next week, but if you want to keep the conversation going on the internet, like if you want to laugh at me for how little I knew about 👁️ 👄 👁️, or if something major has changed and I’m just so naïve and simple back in Friday morning, use #DribbbleOvertime or tag me or tweet me or bop me or boop me, my handle is @yourbuddymeg. Okay, buddy. Bye, hear me next week!