I love thinking about ideas when I mow the lawn. Being outside inspires me.
I’m Senior Art Director at Grow, doing creative development of our ideas as well as design and strategy. I recently worked with Google on Project Re: Brief, which has gotten some amazing recognition. Grow really helps me flourish creatively. The work I’ve helped with has been recognized by many of the industry's top award shows and publications, including the One Show, Cannes Lions, the Webby's, the FWA, HOW Design, and Print, for clients like Google, HBO, Sprint and FedEx.
What do you do for inspiration?
Honestly, I love thinking about ideas when I mow the lawn. Being outside inspires me. More professionally, I keep up with the advertising/digital award circuit, and I scour archives and galleries to see what’s out there.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Definitely our win in Cannes for our contribution to Google’s Project Re: Brief. We scored a Grand Prix Lion in the mobile category for our Coca-Cola campaign, along with 5 other Lions. We worked really hard to create something that would impact people emotionally, and I know the experience is something I’ll never forget.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Haha. I remember asking myself this same question in college. If I wasn’t doing digital advertising, I might be curating at a Museum. I love history and art and dinosaurs...I need to include more dinosaurs in my work.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
I’d say my favorite part is the most difficult part, which is idea generation. I love ideas, and it’s difficult to think of something truly original and thought provoking. I like that we have the opportunity to do both advertising concepts and digital execution at Grow. When I get stuck, I definitely call on other creatives, developers, and producers.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
My recent experience with Project Re: Brief, where five legends of advertising were asked to re-imagine their most iconic campaigns through the lens of digital advertising. They were amazing to work with, especially Harvey Gabor, who created the original Coca-Cola hilltop commercial. He didn’t understand the technology, but he understood a great idea and he ultimately decided the direction of the Coca-Cola execution. He also sent me a Christmas card he made this year. How touching is that?
What area of web design lacks the most?
Right now I’d say that banner ads aren’t being leveraged to their full potential. Big ideas can be applied to the space, and we can create more meaningful experiences there that transcend what most people think of as advertising. Project Re: Brief showed me there is great potential for awesome things in small spaces.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
FWA Awards have been an excellent source of inspiration and encouragement, proving that what we do at Grow matters and is making a difference. I love that we can see where we rank with other digital agencies and compare work.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
It’s pretty difficult to please everyone which is why the idea matters so much. I feel like we achieved this across all the campaigns in Project Re: Brief, especially for Coke. We focused on why the idea was good, then considered how to use technical innovation most effectively. If you can offer a piece of content that makes people smile, why not? A smile pleases everyone.
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 try to read, listen, and explore as much as possible to find inspiration out there. The more you consume, the more fodder you’ll have for brainstorming. My wife and I really enjoy travelling and creating new experiences. I also love my pup Sophie, who gets to come to work every day.
Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?
Our Coke Hilltop ad experience was rooted in digital, but was aiming for an authentic connection to the real world. We literally allowed visitors to “buy the world a Coke,” then send it across the world to a webcam-enabled vending machine, with a message. The person at the Coke machine could see the message, get the free Coke, and then record a message of thanks. People loved it enough for it to cross over from our original target to a more mainstream audience. Getting to the idea was definitely an organic process, as we thought about how to make the world a happier place and tap into the emotions a soft drink can evoke.
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?
We need to meet the request coming from the client, and that doesn’t have to include digital, but digital is likely the reason they approached us in the first place. If we come up with a broader plan, we’ll share it along with our idea for the digital space.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
I still love Thank You begins with a T. It introduced our employees with video and interaction, while offering a t-shirt to clients. I was able to really flex my creative muscle throughout the entire production. I particularly loved coming up with the ideas for each interaction. I’m very proud of both the creative and digital execution.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
“Keep trying.” Sometimes it’s difficult to get a foot in the door, and it takes time and perseverance. Students actually have an advantage because their work doesn’t have to be approved and paid for by a real client. Therefore, it can be as awesome – and as fake – as they want it to be!
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
We’re definitely not focused on any one technology at Grow. We’re focused on creating the coolest stuff, so I rely heavily on our amazing development team to stay abreast of all the new tools.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Practice makes perfect. You can’t learn it until you try it. I’m lucky to be at a company like Grow where we never do the same thing twice – whether it’s design or technology – so I try my hand at projects that stretch my abilities and help me learn. We hold each other accountable to make sure that we’re not stuck doing the same thing over and over again. When your job is to innovate, it’s really important to always be progressing.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I focus on the latest industry output and try to understand why certain ideas work so well. FWA and other award sites help by creating great curated lists. I really like using Flipboard on iPhone for my daily feed of goodness.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
I think our focus is always on doing better work. I love the opportunities I’ve been given, and the projects just keep getting better and better. Having fun and being innovative is the best reward.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Haha. During presentations speak in a British or Australian accent. You’ll sell more work.