.

I think part of the problem is that we often design for the web and forget that the web is just a mode of expression. It’s interesting because dot coms are already a moniker of an era gone by. Mobile is where all the juice is now. Whatever the mode of expression, I think its important to have purpose and consideration for every detail.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Jennifer Parke and I am ECD at Tiny Rebellion, Santa Monica.

My father was an art director by trade and my sister a writer. I skipped college and started at a graphic design studio in Chicago at 17 creating mechanicals and setting type by hand. I moved around quite a bit living in most of the big advertising cities New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and, of course, LA. Name an agency and chances are I’ve worked there over the last 20 years.

I took a brief departure to learn Industrial design and focus on brand Identity. I am now very happy to be running a creative department where we focus on purpose-led brands and advertising. We believe business can be the most powerful force for positive change. My focus now is to create amazing work that will help shift behavior for the better.

What do you do for inspiration?

Mostly I surround myself with ridiculously smart and talented people.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Behance

Fab

Vimeo

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

It keeps changing. The biggest achievement usually is accomplishing the last goal I set for myself. When I was 8 years old I wanted to be an art director. It’s crazy, but true. Growing up with a father that was an art director made the goal easy. He seemed to always be having fun, wearing a t-shirt and jeans with a smile on his face at all times.

I never changed my mind and didn’t stop till it happened. I became an official art director at the age of 21. Then the goal changed, to creative director then ECD, then switched to being a mother and now it’s a blend of all the above. Being a mom while running a creative department is my biggest achievement to date. And the most challenging and rewarding one.

How many hours do you work each week?

It depends on the week. Anywhere from 40-60 hours. I love my job so it’s hard to stop sometimes.

How do you relax or unwind?

Anything outdoors. I love rocks and sticks, hanging from a tree branch, hiking, snowboarding or building Legos with my son, Hudson. Actually, the latter isn’t true. Legos stress me out now, they are very complex these days.

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

Spending time with my son, Hudson.

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

My favorite part is building the creative department itself. I love getting impossible assignments and figuring out the path to make them a success. Advertising never gets old. The clients change. The assignments change. The market changes. You have to be open to change to really love this job. 

The hardest part of my job is to balance time to just ‘be’. It’s easy to get caught up from one meeting to the next. It’s important to give space for thought. Creative people need time to do, but also to allow. Sometimes that doesn’t look like work, yet it’s the most important work a creative person can do.

When I get stuck I usually switch my focus to another problem. By the time I come back to solve the one I’m stuck on, I get over whatever has blocked it in the first place.

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

Boy that’s a hard ask. I would say probably 36-48 hours. I’ve learned to manage my time, and the team’s time better but every once in a while there’s a rare case of an all-nighter. I think it’s important to not run a sweatshop. I’ve worked at many agencies in my life where all-nighters were the norm and the expectation. I don’t want that kind of atmosphere. I think it creates a really unhealthy vibe.

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

Mostly, it’s the people that I have surrounded myself with that have helped shape my career. Besides that, I would say its not having fear of making big changes. I’ve moved a lot which helped me grow and made big career and life shifts when I was most comfortable. I believe the path to happiness and growth requires a bit of discomfort.

What software could you not live without?

Probably time management software on my phone. It’s probably not the sexiest of answers, but it’s honest. I could not live without my calendar.

The only way I could see living without my calendar would be if I decided to become a stonemason and live without technology. Hummm…

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

I juggle from 3 to 6 clients at a time. To be honest I feel like I work better when I have more on my plate than less. Working in a flow state seems to create the best work. More work means less time to overthink.

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

Interesting – that’s the second time you’ve asked about software.  I find that I don’t think too much about the tools that I use.  As an ECD, the most powerful software that I have access to are the incredible minds that I get to direct.  Figuring out the right mix of that talent is what I enjoy most.

What area of web design lacks the most?

I think part of the problem is that we often design for the web and forget that the web is just a mode of expression. It’s interesting because dot coms are already a moniker of an era gone by. Mobile is where all the juice is now. Whatever the mode of expression, I think its important to have purpose and consideration for every detail.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Yes, of course recognition gives incentive to the team that worked so hard to make the work. A very special thanks to the creative team that made the Food Porn Index a success: Justin Smith, Alicia Benz, Braden Graeber and the algorithmic art coded by Active Theory.

When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

I have worked on so many clients from selling technology to selling juice.

You need to immerse yourself in the business and the consumer before you can figure out the solution. Once you viscerally understand the target, figuring out the solution is easy.

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

Some simple portfolio site, and thankfully it’s long gone.

Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

If we can pull off the massive goal of changing the world for the better through business, then yeah, I guess it would be appropriate to pen a book one day…if they still exist.

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I don’t forget to place being a mom and friendship at the center of my life. 

What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?

Within Tiny Rebellion we are currently building Tiny Rebellion Labs, whose focus is use emerging technologies to imagine and create new ways for brands to tell stories and engage with humans.

One of the first expressions of the labs department was a native program we did in Instagram to drive brand engagement with our client Bolthouse Farms. When Instagram users posted photos of Bolthouse product with our owned hashtag, our brand recognition software would scan those photos and reward the user with a link to a coupon when it recognized the brand’s logo or signature bottle shape within the Instagram post. What better way to drive active participation than seamlessly rewarding it?

The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

It’s absolutely necessary. As more and more objects become connected to the “Internet of Things” the number of mediums to express a concept is continuously growing. The lines between our real world and online world become blurred and we must look to solve problems using all available mediums.

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

At first it was going to be the 3D Internet. And then they said websites were dead and apps would replace them all. Now, perhaps with a technology like Oculus Rift in the fold, it seems Facebook is betting that VR experiences will become the future web. In all reality, the complexion of the Internet 10 years from now likely isn't even close to beginning development yet.

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

That’s easy. It’s the Food Porn Index. Its combines everything the agency is good at. Creative plus data and purpose led.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Flash? I heard that was already dead :) In all seriousness, it'll be interesting to see if Flash can evolve and find relevance in the new world and how.

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

One of my favorite designers was a longshoreman before he became a designer.  He’s self taught and as a result brings a very different sensibility to design that challenges a lot of the norms that most of us have defaulted into accepting.  He’s a bit of a black sheep. We favor that at Tiny Rebellion. 

How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

Hire for attitude. Train for skill.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

I already have 3 favorite vehicles.

I own a 1990 Toyota Land Cruiser, a 1963 Land Rover, and a 1963 Triumph Bonneville.

I think a Tesla is on my list next, but I may wait until the pick up truck comes out.

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

FWA, Contagious, Friends & Co workers.

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

There’s a barn somewhere in the world that I’d like to transform into a great place to live for a period of time.

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

Disruption and innovation have never been more critical on the planet.  We help visionaries that have imagined a better way.  It’s kind of an awesome beat.  We’re also starting to get a lot of attention. It’s an exciting time.

What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?

One thing I’m excited about is the different approach we have to building teams at Tiny Rebellion. I prefer not to do just the traditional AD/CW pairings. Today we are all more than one thing by trade. We are a collective of thinkers and doers, artists and nerds, inventors and leaders, content creators and number crunchers.

I think we need to build teams based on that thought and specific client needs. Most clients need multi- disciplinary teams so a non-traditional way to build teams makes sense. We have a few triads going right now that are killing it. An editor/AD/CW, industrial designer/designer/designer, digital AD/AD/social creator.

We strive to create a culture of "moonshot" thinking that not only accepts challenges but also purposefully creates them. If we are going to take on something as audacious as "positive change through commerce", we're going to need big inventions, mountains of data and ridiculous execution and follow through. 

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Believe. Work hard. And don’t give up.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank YOU for being a source of inspiration to the creative community. 


Links

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Jennifer Parke - Executive Creative Director
Jennifer Parke - Executive Creative Director

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