Always be yourself, fight for your space and don't ever lose the faith. Ultimately, have fun with it.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My name is Andre Luiz Poli, I'm originally from a small town in South Brazil, and I'm currently living and working in New York City. I started my career at the age of 15, where I decided to leave home, explore and see where life would take me.
For the past 12 years, I have been lucky enough for being able to work in different creative environments, people and clients. I'm currently working as an Art Director alongside the talented people of Wieden+Kennedy NY.
What do you do for inspiration?
I like to travel and see new places, sometimes I go away by myself. I like to put myself in situations where I have to figure things out, I believe that's how I put my thoughts in place.
Also, this city is full of energy in every corner, there are a bunch of people thinking differently at the same time, and that's great because I can see it happening all around me.
Sometimes I like to go out with my camera and just capture some random stunts, that at least for my eyes, can spark a thought or an insight. I also have a group of friends, that we do urban exploration in abandoned spots in Upstate New York, where I am able to collect a bunch of different scenery.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Well, as I mentioned, I started taking on responsibilities very early, so back there, I used to just deal with the dream of succeeding as an Art Director, somewhere outside of Brazil.
Luckily It happened when I was 22 years old, when I was offered a position at a creative shop called Syrup, in NY, where I had the opportunity in working with real talented people, global clients, as well as developing my design and creative skills.
I consider that my biggest achievement because among many talented people around the globe, this opportunity fell off right in front of me, and I was at the right moment to go for it.
How many hours do you work each week?
Well, it depends, but usually 50-60 hours per week. I have my full-time job as well as a few personal projects that I run on my spare time. I actually rather have a busy schedule than having nothing to care at all.
How do you relax or unwind?
Simple stuff. Hanging out with friends, watching films and tv shows, video games, music/concerts, cooking, drinking.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
That's a tricky question, I'm not really sure. Probably I would be working as a photographer?
Right now I explore photography just as a side hobby where I try to keep my eyes sharp for compositions in general.
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 of my job is concepting and designing things, that's where I have the most fun. Staring at a blank document gives me all types of anxiety, people that know me knows what I'm talking about. I lock myself in my world and don't stop until I have a direction that I believe to be right, or something that excites me to keep moving forward.
Well, every project has its obstacles and challenges. I think dealing with internal politics, client and vendors sometimes can get really overwhelming, it is a different type of game that you have to play, but I believe that is part of my job to figure it out a way for my point to get across between this wave of chaos.
When I get stuck I go for a walk or home, that's when I know I should have a break. I also talk to colleagues, and ask for their opinion and help. I like to get people's perspective before moving on.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
Shape your career. It says it all. The only responsible for your career is yourself and nobody else. I would say: take more risks, open space for mistakes and trust in what you are doing.
Sometimes we tend to rely only on people's opinion and forget to follow the most important thing: our guts. In this industry, there's no space for "what ifs", you will only know how you're impacting it by keep on trying new things, and by believing in your work, you will spend more time defining your style and doing things that will make you happy.
What software could you not live without?
Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Well, Wieden+Kennedy runs globally a lot of different projects all at the same time.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
North Kingdom inspired me since day one. I have always been a big fan of the way that they tell stories by combining beautiful craft + film + technology.
I'm also a big fan of Buck.TV, I think whatever they do is simply impeccable, fun and visually inspiring.
It is not a design company, but I really love the visual aesthetic and typography treatment of Tarantino's Movies.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Yes, definitely. FWA has been recognizing the best digital projects out there for many years, you guys saw web turn into what it is today.
Winning a FWA is like a check mark that you did a good job, and we all know how hard it is to conceive and deliver a digital project in the best shape as possible.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
I think the best way to reach positive results while dealing with major clients, is definitely setting up the right team. A team that want's to push towards the same goal: do good work.
Because at the end of the day It ain't about titles or glamour, it is about work and succeeding together. From my own experience, I truly believe that my performance is way better in a teamwork environment.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I do not consider myself a good writer, but who knows? Maybe someday. For now I would just say that I am still crafting my own story.
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?
One that I was part of… It was actually an interactive event that I worked on with the folks of R/GA NY and London, to launch the Nike+ FuelBand in the UK market back in 2012, known as Nike+ Fuel Fest. It was a large-scale interactive party at Battersea Power Station in London. The event was integrated with the product that was given to the guests in the arrival, and through that, we were able to simply track and measure the energy of the venue in real time.
It made sense because we were dealing with the launch of a digital product, and we wanted to sustain a big conversation around it, and by being a such a cool event hosted by Nike, it generated tons of free PR, and crazy amounts of buzz on social media.
We simply gave people what they wanted. Something to enjoy and to talk about.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
I'm really proud of working in the most surreal project that I have ever worked in my entire career, which was the Squarespace Sleeping Tapes project that I worked in 2015, where we teamed up with the actor Jeff Bridges.
It was not only a website, it was a full experience, composed by a TV spot that was dropped in the Superbowl of 2015. The spot encouraged thousands of people to access the website and listen to the relaxation tapes album that Mr. Jeff Bridges put together.
The site allowed people to listen and buy the physical vinyl that was designed specially for the campaign, as well as donating for the No Kid Hungry, an organization that believes that no kid should grow up hungry in america — and for me that was the most interesting payoff of all the hard work.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
I attended to Graphic Design school while working full-time back in Brazil. But I gave up in the middle of the course, I had a busy schedule, and I realized that I was learning more at work and by facing real challenges than actually in school.
None of the companies that I've worked for ever asked me for a degree. I believe that a cohesive portfolio and ambition can take you anywhere.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Join this industry if you are really into it, because it is already way too saturated.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
I am a self-taught designer, but I was never ashamed for asking people how they did something specific on Photoshop or anything else, I think that's a total common thing. Everyone works differently and that's the beauty of it, learning from each other.
I think throughout the years, as you start to evolving and defining a style, everything start flowing way smoother, it works like a formula that you apply, and by that, you also start experimenting and learning from within.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
Well, I do see myself working in this industry for a while, I believe that I still have a lot to learn, and I still feel energetic about it. I'm also currently running a startup project in my spare time, just for fun.
The future? I will for sure, open my own business, whatever it may be: a design studio, a creative shop, an agency. Something.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
For the past 12 years I've worked with a good mix of all kinds of different projects: websites, e commerce, product design, user experience, mobile apps, installations, interactive campaigns, print ads and more.
Currently I've been trying to get more involved with art direction for films and documentaries. I believe that I could bring my aesthetic and visual direction to this world too.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Always be yourself, fight for your space and don't ever lose the faith. Ultimately, have fun with it.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
The privilege is all mine. Thank you Rob.