Emily Oberman: 10 things I’ve learnt

Graphic designer Emily Oberman’s Design Indaba Conference presentation highlights 10 things she has learnt from 20 years at SNL.
Emily Oberman at Design Indaba Conference 2015.
Emily Oberman at Design Indaba Conference 2015.

Graphic designer and Pentagram partner Emily Oberman, known in the industry for her quick sense of humour and her intuitive ability to read contemporary culture, has been designing title sequences for renowned and beloved New York City-based comedy show Saturday Night Live for the past 20 years. The task, she says, is hard but rewarding.

This year is the programme's 40th season and, in honour of the anniversay, Oberman and her team were commissioned to design a book. Each episode of the show is made within one week leading up to the night it is aired. The book, titled Saturday Night Live: The Book, is divided into chapters by days of the week instead of chronologically by season. 

The effect of this is that all the years of Saturday Night Live are mixed up together within the chapters, allowing readers more easily to draw comparisons between episodes and seasons. The book is the same size as an old music record; the font was chosen to give it a documentary style; it is full of beautiful images of the casts throughout the years and has three coloured ribbon-bookmarks (red, green and blue to reference the RGB colour model for the sensing, representation and display of images in electronic systems) stitched to the spine, to give it a bible-like reverence. The book was released on Wednesday 25 February, 2015.

At Design Indaba Conference 2015, Oberman gave insight into 10 things she has learnt about life, graphic design and the importance of collaboration during her 20-year stint designing for Saturday Night Live. 

1. Reinventing something is hard but very rewarding

2. If something is worth saying once, it’s worth saying 100 times

3. Being funny is serious business

4. Not all church ladies are alike

5. Time is of the essence

6. Even great clients don’t always choose the best options

7. You need to use every tool at your disposal to create a complete world

8. It’s all in the packaging

9. Always thank the cast and crew

10. And always thank your audience

Watch the Talk with Emily Oberman