One of the last nuggets of wisdom that Alex Bogusky left our industry was to define one’s own definition of success. And I think that’s truly the idea behind all of this life stuff.
RYAN: Born in Minnesota. Raised in Texas. Work in Austin. Ryan has eaten reindeer in the Arctic Circle, got a speeding ticket on the Autobahn, got married, had two boys, currently a group creative director/writer at GSD&M and lover of breakfast tacos and queso.
SCOTT: Group creative director at GSD&M in Austin, Texas. Scott’s work for clients such as BMW, Kohler, Southwest Airlines and RadioShack has been recognized by most industry awards shows and national media outlets. Scott graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s in advertising and was a member of the nationally recognized Texas Creative Portfolio sequence. His free time is spent with his family and two beagles and a passion for photography, skateboarding, BMX, surfing and breakfast food.
RYAN: I continually try to learn things I know I will suck at like design and coding. My brain isn’t wired that way, but it’s still fun to keep learning. I’m also a cinephile, so always trying to watch a few movies on Netflix a week.
SCOTT: Spend too much time on Instagram (@brewerscott). Watch old movies. Curate my family’s 5,000+ Kodachrome slide archives. Spend time with my five-year-old daughter’s amazing brain.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
RYAN: In advertising, relaunching RadioShack on the Super Bowl this year. Partly because of the creative, and partly because it was an insane time crunch, logistical nightmare. And every day something came up that nearly derailed the entire project, but by some miracle, we finished it and kept it a secret up until it aired during the game.
SCOTT: Personal achievement: My two daughters, Lauren (5) and Merritt (6 weeks). Professional achievement: Helping RadioShack reposition their brand with a 30-second Super Bowl commercial that resulted in the AdAge headline: “In Shocking Upset, RadioShack wins the Super Bowl.” The day after the spot aired, RadioShack’s stock rose 7% on a down U.S. market day.
How many hours do you work each week?
RYAN: Between 0–90.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
RYAN: Playing on the Internet and not working.
SCOTT: I ask myself this daily. The answer always comes back to doing exactly what I do. (Professional surfing is a close second.)
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
RYAN: The best part is when you are in pure creation mode. You aren’t thinking about what is right or wrong, just what gets the funniest reaction from your partner. The hardest part is being a creative director—trying to push a creative to get their best work without leaving your fingerprints all over it. When I get stuck, I stop caring so much. Chances are I’m overthinking it or making the problem more complicated than it is.
SCOTT: Favorite part: The satisfaction of connecting with consumers in a truly insightful way. Hardest part: Connecting with consumers in a truly insightful way. There are no magic bullets. Sometimes taking a break helps, but most of the time solutions emerge in the aftermath of hard work and effort.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
RYAN: 48 hours on a pitch. When it was over, I had a sense of pride I made it through alive. Then I saw an article about a young creative that died doing the same thing, and I realized I was a moron.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
RYAN: When I was a junior, I got thrown out of an interview after five minutes. It was actually much worse than it sounds. So once that happens, it’s easy to take risks and be fearless because nothing is going to be more humiliating than that.
SCOTT: One of the last nuggets of wisdom that Alex Bogusky left our industry was to define one’s own definition of success. And I think that’s truly the idea behind all of this life stuff.
What area of web design lacks the most?
RYAN: I’d like to see a lot more out of mobile. It’s where I consume the majority of my content during the day, and while simplicity is obviously important, mobile design often doesn’t make me feel anything like desktop does.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
RYAN: It helps remind me that I don’t suck.
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?
RYAN: Videogames and the Internet—the recipe of champions.
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?
RYAN/SCOTT: For SXSW, we launched a mobile website called Avoid Humans that took Foursquare check-in data and reversed it, so instead of seeing where everyone was, you’d get a list of the bars, coffee shops and restaurants that were empty. Really smart and simple idea from one of our junior creatives, Matt Garcia, that used social data in a fresh way.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
RYAN: I have a hard time looking two months into the future. In 10 years, it will probably all be robots, and I’m cool with that.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
RYAN/SCOTT: The Air Force Collaboratory that we built with WeLikeSmall.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
SCOTT: Probably not. But something else will be.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
RYAN: Treat everything like an opportunity. Don’t bitch; just put your head down and work hard and learn. Your first assignments will likely suck, but if you treat every brief like a big opportunity, when the right one comes around, you’ll be ready. I’ve seen too many juniors wait for great briefs before putting any effort in, and then they don’t have the discipline to deliver. And truthfully, the best opportunities are the briefs that don’t appear to have potential.
SCOTT: Work hard. Be nice. Pulling from your own life experiences is the only way to truly stand out as original in your career.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
RYAN: Sailboat, as long as I’m not captain.
SCOTT: ’97 Defender 90 with a surfboard rack.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
RYAN: Follow smarter people than myself on Twitter and frequently visit FWA (shameless ass-kissing).
SCOTT: I use Twitter as a trend-aggregator and have my list of 5–10 must-read blogs and sites. FWA being one of them.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
RYAN: The Swedes always kill it. Must be something in the water or their delicious gummy fish.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
RYAN: I have a romantic notion of writing a screenplay one day. Perhaps I’ll be the first 80-year-old screenwriter.
SCOTT: It’s actually a personal project. I’d like to find a better way to chronicle one’s life online using the media they created during their lifetime. Kind of a blend of photo albums and videos but displayed in more of a unique, engaging, storytelling way than currently exists. Think of it as family tree meets home movies meets Grandma’s old photo albums meets Hollywood.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
RYAN: I live in Texas. It’s consistently 100 degrees. No overcoats, peacoats or raincoats.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
SCOTT: Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.