My Grandfather once told me, if you do a job you love, you would never work a day in your life. Well, I haven’t worked a day since. I believe that every human has between 1 and 3 “super-powers”. Mine is willpower and intuition. I’ve done a lot of mistakes in my life and probably a few more around the corner, but I parade my scars with pride. I know where I come from and I’ve always known where I’m going. I don’t necessarily know which road I will take next, but hey, magic happens out of your comfort zone, doesn’t it?
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My grandfather, having being multiple times a successful business man at the time, in England and Egypt, after fleeing to Canada following the repercussions of the last war had opened a small design and print firm, VN graphic and Printing.
As a younger man (16-17) I was bored after high-school so my Father suggested I help my grand father lift paper boxes until I figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I soon discovered one of my passions was business and great design. I went to college studying graphic design and graduated within 2 years. During that time, I worked side by side with my grandfather, Victor Mallouk, learning 70 years of business tricks and the ancient art of life.
I soon realized that my artistic skills where more defined as a DA/critic than an actual artist. So I then hired a graphic artist. The years went by and when I took over, we re-branded the company as Phoenix. Today, we are Phoenix the Creative Studio, a marketing agency that specializes in branding, interactive solutions and visual communication in all its forms.
My name is Fouad Mallouk and I'm president and founder of Phoenix The Creative Studio in Montreal. I believe that the key to effectively leading a design agency is to always feed your inspiration as well as the inspiration of the team you grow with. I am here to bring tangible benefits to Phoenix The Creative Studio, including the ability to motivate employees and align them with the company’s vision.
I take my responsibilities seriously and find out what is needed to bring out the best in everyone on our team. I love what I do and I’m good at it. I happened to be doing my dream job for the past 15 years, and it’s what I do best.
I've been working in this industry for over 18 years and collaborated on many projects and brands ranging from start-ups to multinational to A class celebrities.
What do you do for inspiration?
Movies, Music, traveling and yes, I’m an on-line junkie.
Also, we are constantly polluted with awful logos, publicities, billboards, websites and the list goes on. Being manipulated to buy this and that with poorly designed mediums makes me sick.
SO I guess this also inspires me to rectify this and not only put an end to manipulation driven publicity but make it more enjoyable, fun and DESIGN oriented.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Don’t you just hate it when someone asks you, if you where stuck on a desert island, and you had to pick 5 cd’s, what would you pick. Well that’s that kind of question. Mozart, Pink Floyd, oh. wait, you said favourite sites. Behance, Youtube, Wikipedia, Amazon, Wolfram Alpha…
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
As my career goes, I am in between 2. Having done quite a few years back, the visual communication of the first nation of Cree in Quebec that led to the historical accord between the first nation and the Quebec government or just recently, one of the most decorated design firm of Quebec, gave us their website to do.
One is very sentimental, the other a very honourable one. In both cases, most of the work would be impossible without my team of heroes behind me.
How many hours do you work each week?
I have not worked a day in 15 years. Yet, I haven’t really slept since. Hum… I’m in dire need of a Ouija board all of a sudden. But to answer the question, probably 70.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I would be either in astrophysics or an astronomer. My greatest passion lies in the stars and beyond.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
What I enjoy most in what I do is the versatility of my job. Being able of touching every aspect of life. One Day, we are working on a packaging design for a shoe start-up business, the next we are re-branding a multinational company. From fashion to high tech, olive oil to underground majestic events, we have the privilege of working in all spheres and by doing so, learning.
Also, being part of the process of the success of our clients if very exiting. Connecting with others, sharing ideas and constantly challenging ourselves is equally glorifying.
The hardest part is traffic, bad weather and clients that do not understand the value of good design.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Believe it or not, I once did exactly 60 hours straight 6 months ago. We were winning so many awards, therefore getting so many calls during the same time we were moving our offices, all that during the holidays, and we only had 2 weeks to finish.
Suffice it to say Red Bull stock went up a few points that week.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
Once I decided that the client is not always right and decided to re-evaluate and rebrand our company towards our employees instead. Everything after that is magic.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
We are currently negotiating with a Canadian firm that developed user experience technologies that would allow us to add a few senses to what we design. Stay tuned.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
There is no doubt about it. Being good in our industry and having a great team is crucial. But having it confirmed with a few FWA’s solidified that statement. It makes our closing pitch a whole of a lot easier. And makes my team very proud and higher their self esteem, which in turn creates better results, which gives us more FWAs… You know what they say, it’s your first FWA that’s hard to get.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
Well, more than 12-13 years later, Louis Paquet is now one of the most prominent web designers in Canada, My Creation Director, and is my partner.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Not yet, but I have material for a trilogy. Part of my goals would be to write one on the industry and one on leadership/business.
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?
I always found that we were limited with the technology we had. My guys would create unbelievable web ideas but was impossible given the technology at the time.
Finally this is a thing of the past now. Sky is the limit and yes, using most mediums is important.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Be open-minded Ford once said “ If I would have asked people what they needed, they would have said a faster horse”
Avoid Fast Food
Never stop learning
Always Inspire and be inspired by everything, specially in the places you least expect
Learn how to give and learn how to RECEIVE
Don’t drink cheap coffee, drink great espresso.
Never EVER say it’s not my job. President’s clean toilet bowls too.
Always have a mentor
If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
One word: Holodeck!
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
Augmented reality – wearables – added senses – Mature Voice command – Combining technologies to reduce items. Perfection is obtained not when there is nothing else to add, but nothing else to remove.
I dream of a world where you can strictly walk around with one piece of wearable that would replace phone, computer, storage, keys, pins, cameras, TV’s, consoles, barometers/thermometer/radiation sensor device, medical detection, data analysis, data recording, wait.. Am I talking about the tricorder?
DAMN YOU GENE !
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
Well, funny you would ask, during F1 weekend here in Montreal, I had 3 beers and fries. Cost me 106$. I should have asked for the price first.
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
When it comes to fashion, I like to bring it up a notch. I love how men used to dress 100 years ago and I like to combine the past and the future. For instance, my entire shirt wardrobe uses cufflinks. And I have more than my share, from vintage, to modern to actual antiques.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Love what you do and do what you love. There are only 2 days in a year you cannot pursue your dreams; yesterday and tomorrow.
Feed your inspiration and your motivation. If it does not exist, create it.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thank you so much, the privilege has been mine.