Interview: Mike Peck Of Starbucks Global Creative

Q: Do you still sketch before designing new logos?

A: I’m not sure I even own a pencil, so I can’t say I sketch all that much. I’m one of those people that will use any medium possible to concept a design piece: words, pictures, computer images, or verbal stories, whatever works. My team is the same way, we have some amazing sketch artists, and some that have to use the computer to get an idea out. Hey, whatever works.

Q: Do you have a "favorite" graphic designer?

A: That’s easy. The greatest inspiration I got at an early stage in my design life was Speak Magazine from Martin Venezky. Such amazing layout and type skills. I actually traded a painting with the editor, Dan Rolleri for the entire back catalog when they went out of business. His letter to me still hangs in my office.

Jennifer Sterling and the architect Robert Venturi were also huge influences. I still drag the Fox Paper sample she did to meetings every now and then.


Q: As a member of Starbucks's target audience, do you find that you are designing for yourself?

A: Sometimes I feel like the guy from the Hair Club for Men. I’m not only a design manager, I’m also a customer. I’m a huge coffee drinker, Sumatra at home and Kenya Tana River in the afternoon at work. Most everyone at Starbucks loves the company. The values of it’s people and leadership, and baristas that give us a great excuse to come to work every day. So of course we find ourselves designing for us. I just hope we all stay cool long enough to be a relevant target.


Q: Do you have a favorite font?

A: I’ve always been a type purist. I think I used Helvetica on almost every project for a good 5 years at one point. These days I don’t really have a single favorite, but since Avenir is our brand font, I suppose I better call it my favorite. Lately every time I see a design and ask, ‘what typeface is that?’ it usually comes back Caecila. For the record, it was a close runner up as our core brand font.

On a side note, I do love Gotham. But like a great top 40 hit, it has been grossly overplayed. Say what you want about our president, one thing’s for certain: he made that type face an icon of poster art, and ruined it for my “original” designs at the same time.


Q: What inspires you?

A: I may have to be a bit corny here and say my friends and family. I get more inspiration from my five year old son these days than any book or blog. The things he says and does crack me up! And my wife, who left her job as a creative director to take care of our two sons. Life has too many things to inspire us at every turn, design is just another great way to express it.

I also have the pleasure of working with an amazing design team. They inspire me more than I could ever inspire them. Seriously.

Q: What inspires the Starbucks team?

A: Coffee. And when we’re out of ideas, more coffee.

Gina Angie