Show all episodes

Designing Identities for TV & Film, an Interview with Emily Oberman

An interview with
Emily Oberman


Over the past few years there have been some pretty big movie identities designed by Pentagram. These include "DC Entertainment", JK Rowling’s  films "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" and "The Crimes of Grindelwald", Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation of "Ready Player One", "Birds of Prey'" the Warner Brothers identity... the list goes on.

The person behind all of this is Emily Oberman.

Emilys had an incredible career in design. After graduation she joined the legendary design studio M&Co, collaborating with Tibor Kalman. She also cofounded the design studio Number Seventeen, where she worked on the identities for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and "Saturday Night Live." Then in 2012, Emily joined Pentagram’s New York office as a partner.

In this interview we discover the surprisingly relatable story of how she got to work on identities for blockbuster movies. We also uncover the process her and her team take when working on logos and identities for movies. Then we end the interview with an honest discussion about how she was approached by Pentagram, and what it’s like to be a partner at one of the most well-know design agencies in the world.

Emily Oberman Interview Transcription

Ian Paget: So you've become really well-known for your work in film, having worked on logos and identities for films, such as Ready Player One, The Fantastic Beast films, Birds of Prey, Warner Brothers. You've done lots within film now. How did you get into working on branding for TV and film?

Emily Oberman: That is a great question. And it's kind of goes back a little bit of a long way, and so I'll try to sum it up. When I went to college, I went to Cooper Union in New York city. And while I was at Cooper Union, and even in high school, I had kind of an acting bug.

And so at a certain point at Cooper, I took a leave of absence to go and study acting. I had done it a lot in high school, and I wanted to sort of live that dream. And I did that for about a year. I started with Stella Adler in New York City. And after about a year, I realised that I didn't really want to be an actress. I didn't have the sort of constitution for that.

So when I went back to school at Cooper, I started studying filmmaking, which was sort of a way to combine design and theatre or performance in a way that was satisfying to me.