Friday Fives: Gabriella Narvaez

November 03, 2023

In our Friday Fives series, we give #highfives to a different designer from our extended family of PNCA students, faculty, alumni, and guest lecturers. 🙌🏽🙌🏾🙌🏻 This week, we're featuring Gabriella Narvaez, who is visiting us on November 7, 2023 for our Fall 2023 Design Lecture SeriesRegister via eventbrite to watch the livestream of the talk, or better yet, join us in person in the PNCA Mediatheque at 6:30pm.

Gabriella Narvaez is a creative director with a heart for storytelling and a passion for bringing more representation into the world of advertising and media. As a self-described creative chameleon, she loves moving between diverse subject matters. Whether it’s driving with story of sport with Nike, viewing the world of VR with Oculus, the news and analytical perspective of MSNBC, the familial nature of food with Nestle, or the quirk of a NY legend like Snapple, she approaches each project with a deep sense of curiosity and optimism.

With a background in advertising she’s had the pleasure of working in New York, San Francisco, and Portland with brands like Nike, Google, Facebook Reality Labs, Twitter, Snapple, LUNA Bar, Nestle, the Golden State Warriors, and L’Oreal. Gabriella also loves to travel. Her family is from Latin America (Nicaragüense here!) and after living down there for a few years during childhood it gave her a deep appreciation for immersing herself in new places and cultures. 

Graphic Design department head Kristin Rogers Brown spoke with Gabriella in October, 2023.

Q: What or who inspires you?

A: Es Devlin is major inspiration. As a stage designer she truly thinks about a 360 experience and how performance and design intersect. I love following her career and learning from her vision. 

Q: What feels vital to the future of design, to you? 

A: Curiosity is critical. With the emergence of new tools and platforms, staying curious about what makes good design great is going to mean a lot. Design should never be stagnant, so we must ensure we are challenging and pushing it forward as a community.

I recently have started to move away from the word “balance” and instead am embracing “harmony.” Balance assumes things need to be equally weighted. Harmony allows for more ebb and flow.

Gabriella Narvaez

Q: What is one thing you want to learn right now? 

A: Patience. Truthfully, it’s going to be a lifelong journey for me, but patience is something I’m always trying to practice. My natural state is to move 100 mph but I’m learning I don’t have to be going at F1-pace 24/7.

How do you balance all the various projects and areas of focus in your practice, including teaching, publishing, making, etc., with the other parts of your life?

A: I recently have started to move away from the word “balance” and instead am embracing “harmony.” Balance assumes things need to be equally weighted. Harmony allows for more ebb and flow. As creatives, we all experience weeks where we go hard at our creative endeavors and other weeks we let our projects go to the wayside in service of something in our personal life. Harmony allows for fluidity, and the water sign in me (pisces anyone?) loves that.

Q: What is your favorite trick for “keeping it all together”? 

A: I’m old school because I love pen & paper to craft a solid to-do list. Putting something in ink is a ritual I really cherish. It’s tactile. It’s accessible. And I always doodle. Something about transcribing thoughts in doodles really soothes and sorts my mind.

Q: And a bonus question...Is there a question you’d like to ask a future guest? Or something you wish we had asked you? Answer it if you like!

My Q: What’s your favorite design book, magazine, or resource?

A: A few years back I was gifted A Dictionary of Color Combinations by Sanzo Wada. I love how it expresses color theory in an emotive and intuitive way. The color wheel is great, but this book shows that color isn’t just science.

Gabriella Narvaez is a creative director with a heart for storytelling and a passion for bringing more representation into the world of advertising and media. As a self-described creative chameleon, she loves moving between diverse subject matters. Whether it’s driving with story of sport with Nike, viewing the world of VR with Oculus, the news and analytical perspective of MSNBC, the familial nature of food with Nestle, or the quirk of a NY legend like Snapple, she approaches each project with a deep sense of curiosity and optimism.

With a background in advertising she’s had the pleasure of working in New York, San Francisco, and Portland with brands like Nike, Google, Facebook Reality Labs, Twitter, Snapple, LUNA Bar, Nestle, the Golden State Warriors, and L’Oreal. Gabriella also loves to travel. Her family is from Latin America (Nicaragüense here!) and after living down there for a few years during childhood it gave her a deep appreciation for immersing herself in new places and cultures. 

* * * * *

To see more from Gabriella, visit her website or follow her on instagram @gabybecrazy.

Hear more from Gabriella at the Design Lecture Series on 11/7/2023. Register via eventbrite for a reminder and a link to watch the livestream of the talk, and if you're local to Portland, please join us in person in the PNCA Mediatheque at 6:30pm PST!

* * * * *

The Fall 2023 Design Lecture Series is in person, and online, free, and open to the public. We are livestreaming select talks with registration on Eventbrite. This event is presented by PNCA Graphic Design, and co-hosted by graphic design department members Kristin Rogers Brown, Katja Gantz, and Flo Von Grote.

Follow along with our #fridayfives on instagram @pncadesign.