As a communication design student, Ben Barry ('07) loved to create "stuff" in the screen-printing class of Amie Adelman, associate professor of studio arts.
The skills he learned there have earned him his niche at Facebook.
The social networking company frequently hosts all-night Hackathons, in which employees collaborate on new ideas. An engineer, for example, could build a prototype by morning. Barry, a graphic designer, realized he could make posters and T-shirts to help inspire them.
Those posters now hang on the walls of the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., motivating workers with slogans such as "Move fast and break things" and "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" Barry and other employees even have their own art studio — Facebook's Analog Research Laboratory, a screen-printing studio and workshop he co-founded — to make the prints.
He spends the rest of his time on brand and visual identity, such as compiling documentation on how to use the logo and producing materials for Facebook events and conferences. It's the job he wanted to do since he was a student at UNT. He drew typefaces in design professor Eric Ligon's (ʼ97 M.F.A.) typography class and created dozens of poster ideas for the graphic design class of associate professor Michael Gibson.
"Those two shaped a lot of my thinking and work," he says.
One poster won Best of Show in the Dallas Society of Visual Communicators National Student Show. Barry also ran UNT's communication design club, Vent — which met for lunch every Friday at Cool Beans on Fry Street — and designed a cover for the literary journal, The North Texas Review.
After graduation, he took part in Project M, a Greensboro, Ala.-based program that encourages graphic artists to create awareness about social issues. For his first full-time job, he worked at The Decoder Ring, a design firm in Austin that created concert posters and other products.
Barry frequently used Facebook since college. One night after work in 2008, he logged in and saw an ad targeted at him: "Facebook is hiring designers."
"I was kind of dumbfounded," he says. "I thought, 'Wow, this is a fascinating technology. Do they even have designers?'"
He applied that night on a whim. After a phone interview, he flew in to Palo Alto, Calif., for an onsite interview.
"Once I walked in the door, I thought, 'I have to work at this place,'" he says. "It was the people, the ideology, and how passionate and idealistic they were."
Now that he's working there, he's found it to be the perfect job for him.
"I love what I do," Barry says. "I believe passionately in what Facebook is doing. It benefits humanity. I could never have come up with another job more exciting than this."