The Buzz About Alumnus Zachary Gibson ’09
In the age of the Internet, mastering entertainment, advertising and information-sharing has become a new game; a game that BuzzFeed Snapchat graphic manager and 2009 Bethel graduate Zachary Gibson knows how to play.
Gibson, a Valparaiso native and studio art major at Bethel, spent two years freelancing in Chicago before he packed up his car and followed his ambitions to Los Angeles.
“I’d never been to L.A. before I moved here, but there was a big industry pull. It was here or New York.” Gibson said that for him, Los Angeles was the right decision. “I’ve seen the quality of my work grow. If you want to survive here, you have to get better.”
It wasn’t too long after his arrival that Gibson’s efforts were noticed. BuzzFeed, a company that prides itself on being “the leading media company for the social age,” took notice of Gibson’s Motivational Poster Series that he posted on Pinterest. Gibson gave out free copies of the posters with the condition that the people who got them would send him a picture of where they hung them up. Employers at BuzzFeed liked his work and offered him a job.
Now, Gibson manages the company’s Snapchat team. He describes the working environment as both intensive and fun, comparing the team’s meeting room (which contains large inflatables) to Google’s infamous slide-filled office, and likened his team to, “kids who drank too much caffeine.” Gibson’s profession may sound like more of a hobby than a job, but in reality there is always plenty of work to be done.
With 200 million unique visitors viewing BuzzFeed’s content each month, it could potentially be difficult to stay grounded. But Gibson applied a cultural trend from Bethel to his office in L.A.
“Bethel emphasizes being about other people. It’s a huge asset to remember that it’s not all about me.”
Gibson put that lesson to action when he began working on his first children’s book, It’s Okay to be Lonely, about a monster who feels lonely until he discovers that he’s never actually been alone. Gibson decided to give all of the proceeds to Midnight Mission, a charity that fights to relieve the massive homeless population that exists in the City of Angels.
For Gibson, writing children’s books was not a one-time thing.
“I’m really, really interested in writing kids’ books. I love art that can come from a really honest open place and I feel like kids’ books do a great job of that.”
Between working at BuzzFeed and writing, it’s clear that Gibson will be maintaining a busy schedule for a while, but that idea doesn’t seem to bother him.
“The job I have is really good about work, life balance. I feel most complete when I’m doing something. It’s enjoyable. It’s awesome to be able to look at the rest of my life and say ‘I love this.’ ”
For a look at Gibson’s Motivational Poster Series Project, click here.
Check out more of Gibson’s work with BuzzFeed here.