1First, tell us about yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
My background is in art and design, I majored in graphic design and grew up with a passion for all types of design from architecture to product design and advertising. My first job, out of school was actually not in design at all, it was in marketing for a luxury real estate brand. Something I felt so unqualified for, but the CEO really took a liking to my personality and thought with my creative background I’d be better off in the marketing department, not the design department. I was hungry for a job and I figured I’d be up for the challenge. Fast forward 2 years later, I became the company Marketing Director and I was managing 3 branch offices and overseeing about 150 different real estate agent portfolios. It was a great learning experience, in addition to growing professionally, I really learned the business value of brand positioning, marketing strategy, and execution. The things they don’t teach you in “art school”. I think every design student should take a series of business classes with an emphasis in marketing. I didn’t know what a SWOT analysis was, until I was asked to do one, in the real world. I guess learning by doing was the best way for me to gain the experience. Of course, there were failures along the way, but that just added to my experience. I think that time I spent in marketing made a huge impact on my career as a Creative Director today.
2Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
I eventually left my marketing job to pursue my original passion in design and took a position as a Creative Director at a branding agency and spent nearly a decade working with consumer and lifestyle brands helping create their brand identity and advertising campaigns. I did everything from logo design to website development. Working in the agency world, I eventually realized what was missing within a lot of client-agency relationships… the idea of creating real business value for the brand, as opposed to just making things “look good”. In my experience, many engagements were based on “projects” – we need X so we would deliver Y and then on to the next one. Therefore agencies (like the one I worked for) quickly turned into “production shops" I wanted to be seen as someone who creates more than just “deliverables” as I believed designers can add more value to a business than just creating what is seen. I wanted to create an agency that partnered with clients and focused on solving business and marketing challenges first with strategy and then executing on ideas with daring creativity that put emotion and personality into the brand that ultimately created bonds with audiences. So, when every other agency focused on using latest trends, vanity metrics like “engagement” and “impressions” while putting the business goals secondary, we specialize in combining creativity with critical analysis to help brands stand out and move forward. I actually started our agency with my former marketing professor and collaborator, Freddy Nager who has mentored me throughout my career. We spent so many hours discussing on how to improve brands and develop winning strategies over our weekly coffee sessions, that we just decided why not work together and start our own agency. The time was right, and that’s how our agency Ad Victorem (from the Latin “To Victory”) came to be.
3Congratulations! As the winner of the 2018 Muse Creative Awards, what does winning this award mean to you and your team?
I’ve been fortunate to win many awards for different projects throughout my career and they’ve never directly brought us more business, but that’s not the reason why winning matters to us. It’s more about what that trophy represents. They’re reminders of the efforts we put into our craft. They do a lot to improve morale and company culture. My team and I were really thrilled to be recognized for our work and creativity by such a great organization.
4Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I really see branding playing a crucial role when developing a product or service. It’s actually happening now, where designers have a seat at the table when new ideas are forming and business decisions are being made. Designers bring creativity, vision, style, and insight into how visual representations affect human emotions, which in turn creates meaning and value. It’s time designers are embraced as the business innovators that they are, and not merely tools in the process.
5What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
The ability to express ideas that compel people to take action.
, for quality design and execution.
The emergence of technology and how that can take creativity to a new level.
6Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I’m really inspired by heroic stories of individuals who persevered to overcome economic and situational challenges and became legends based on their talent and creativity such as Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Elvis Presley, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and even Rocky Balboa (he’s real in my mind).
7What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
America is the land of opportunity, I truly believe that if you come here with determination and a fearless work ethic, you will find success regardless of talent. Especially here in Los Angeles, it’s traditionally known as the “entertainment capital” but it’s also the idea and creative capital of the world. One of the reasons I came here, was because I felt this was the best place to pursue my craft in art and design.
8If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in creative industry, what would it be?
Find a mentor. Stay hungry. Embrace failure. Challenge your comfort level. Focus on the details but never lose sight of the bigger picture.
9What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the advertising industry?
Amazon.com – buy books and read them. Never stop learning. If you have to, go to your local university or college and enroll in an accelerated certificate program.
10Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
It’s okay to work for free.
11Finally, what is your key to success?
You become what you think about most of the time. Free yourself from negative emotions. Replace fear, envy, jealousy, and anger with love, peace, joy, and enthusiasm. In order to be a success, you must believe you ARE a success. Set a goal, put some self-confidence with a bit a faith behind it and keep moving forward.