Five years at Sketch

Do you know the cliché “time flies”? Well, time indeed went fast, but that didn’t stop me from having one of the most life-changing experiences of my career.

This week marks my fifth anniversary of joining Sketch, but I must rewind back way further before I can get to the year of 2016 and beyond.

If you know me long enough, you’re probably aware that I have a history with Emanuel Sá, Sketch’s co-founder.

Emanuel is not only a dear friend. Back in 2008, he was one of my mentors during the early days of iOS iPhone OS icon design.

Over the years, we got to collaborate on many projects for clients such as Taptivate, Embraceware, Droplr, Vemedio, Acrylic, Metalab, Sproutcore and even Paramount Pictures.

It came to the point where we even had to create our own design studio, which we called Iconlicious.

Iconlicious Logo

Those were fun times, but eventually life took its course and we parted ways. Emanuel went to work on a certain design-app-for-designers, and I continued my journey as a freelancer.

Even from the outside, I was fortunate to witness the early days of what would ultimately became known as Sketch. I remember the first few app icons; the homepage; testing the alpha builds.

Fast-forward to 2016

A few months after I left SuperMegaUltraGroovy (miss you folks, though!), something came up.

I had this opportunity to work with Emanuel again, alongside Alberto Calvo, Chris Downer and Pieter Omvlee. And this being Sketch?

Come on, I knew I had to grab it with both hands.

Chris, Emanuel and Marcelo

Chris, Emanuel, and me

We were only fifteen people when I joined, but Sketch was already the leading tool for interface designers. It was incredible to be there in that place and moment.

I remember my first task:

“Marcelo, we would like you to design a new app icon and logo for Sketch”.

No pressure.

Nothing can beat Emanuel’s classic diamond, but they trusted me to come up with something more branded that would better align with their vision of the future we see today, where Sketch is no longer just Mac app, but a platform.

Sketch Logo

And so much has happened since that first job.

Thereafter, I got to work on great features such as libraries, symbol resizing, vector editing improvements, prototyping, data, and my personal favorite from those initial years (2016 – 2018), our first complete redesign. Unveiled with Sketch 52.

Past this redesign, things started to shift considerably as we focused more and more on the web app and collaboration features. We were fast approaching that vision.

Around that time, we went from 70 people or so to 130+ in a blink of an eye—the need for a company-wide reorganization was inevitable.

It was quite a change, and my job today is a lot different than the one from back in 2016. I’ve been given a new role as design director as the design department began to expand and solidify.

Even though that’s my official fancy title, I much prefer to see myself more like a design-team-cheerleader because in a way, that’s what I do these days. I like being there for my teammates, rooting for them, and making sure they have all the support needed to perform at their best and enjoy what they do.


This year promises to be a little special, both personal and professionally.

Only in the last few months, we took collaboration out of beta; wrote about what are our plans for this year and beyond; and crafted a video which I hold very close to the heart. They’re a glimpse to a much larger rebranding and design system we’ve been cooking up.

And personally speaking, there’s a potential big change of scenery coming up soon, but that’s something for another time.

Anyway, I have no idea what the future holds for me or Sketch, but I do hope to revisit this post in another five years. One thing is certain, there will be plenty of new stories to tell.

Marcelo Marfil on the internets