Posted 18th Mar, 2013

by Andrew Savchyn

by Joyce Byrne

For Ad Week 2013, I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion panel of creatives for the Edmonton Advertising Club of Edmonton. They were:

Howard Poon, Design Director, DDB @howpoon
Sarah Jackson, CGD, Sarah Jackson Creative, @raspberrysarah
Cam Service, Principal, ONST Creative @camatonst
Ryan Kelly, Creative Director, RED the Agency @ryan_d_kelly
Kelly Mellings, Art Director, Pulp Studios @KellyMellings

Me: Joyce Byrne, Associate Publisher, Venture Publishing @joyce_byrne

The discussion was lively and the participants agreed to share some of their answers with us after the event for this blog. (At press time we did not have Ryan’s answers, but will add them if we can.)

Joyce Byrne: Who are your design heroes?

Howard Poon: Tibor Kalman (1949 – 1999) – an American graphic designer/thinker who started out doing window displays for a NYC bookstore which later became Barnes and Noble. I love the wit and humour in his work. Max Huber (1919-1992) – a Swiss graphic designer.

Kelly Mellings: Milton Glaser — This video has the quote about not typecasting yourself as a designer or an artist. Style-wise: James Jean, Dave Mckean, J. C. Leyendecker and Alphonse Mucha are heroes.

Cameron Service: This list is constantly changing for me but right now: Jolby – Josh Kenyon & Colby Nichols, Jon Contino (mostly typographer), Aaron Draplin.

Sarah Jackson: Frank Chimero, swissmiss, I also mentioned Mike Monteiro’s podcast Let’s Make Mistakes.

JB: How to you tackle a creative block?

HP: Caffeine always helps. If I’m stuck, I often approach the problem from an opposite point-of-view and look it from a fresh perspective. For example, I might restate the challenge in a different way. Or if I’ve been focusing on visual solutions, I will shift to typographic solutions. The key for me is not to get on one track of thinking or too married to one idea.

KM: Reference morgue files and my Pinterest boards. Dive through the studio’s huge library. Read/reference industry and art magazines e.g., juxtapoz, Computer arts, Imagine FX. Go to the art gallery or take in visual art.

CS: Everyone and every stage of the creative process has different ways to draw creativity. Around our office: Library visits, offices pacing, talking out your thoughts, getting a 2nd eye, switching up the project, collection of tabs from online publications, simply taking a break for lunch of a walk.

SJ: I stop working and experience the world – you know, hang out with the real people instead of my computer. OR I set a deadline that I can’t get out of. Nothing spurs creative output like a deadline! “Necessity is the mother of invention”

JB: If you could go back in time to your first years in an agency, business owner or a student, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

HP: “Step out of the woods (or weeds)” and look at where you are from higher place. When you’re ‘on the ground’ in a forest you’re surrounded by trees – this is where we normally operate on a daily basis. If you rise up 1000 feet you can see the treetops and get a better sense of where you are and how big the forest is. At 2000 feet, you will see how your forest ‘fits’ into the rest of the environment. And with this new knowledge you can anticipate challenges or look for opportunities.

KM: Utilize your time better, spend more time honing your craft, as you’ll never have that same amount of time again.

CS: Overall I’m pretty fresh still, but make sure you figure out what you enjoy and really matters, before you chases something to heavily.

SJ: Find out what you love to do, then do it, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Also, no one knows what they’re doing! That’s the secret!

JB: What advice do you have for the job searchers and the next generation?

HP: You are not your job title. Don’t limit your contribution to your employer or your clients based on the job you’ve been hired to do. Roll your sleeves up and make yourself indispensable.

Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. You will not be learning or growing when you stay within your comfort zone.

KM: Self evaluate and be honest about your work. Pay as much attention to your communication skills as you do about your portfolio. Great working relationships are built on good communication.

CS: Showcase yourself as much as your skill-set, we’d rather work with someone who is hardworking, passionate and with lots of initiative then someone who is technically sound. And get out there! Places (like us) aren’t always looking for people, and reaching out, so take it upon yourself to seek them out.


JB: Bonus answer from Sarah Jackson: What new delivery channels are you excited about?

SJ: I wanted you to ask this question because I’m serious about my answer: I think everyone needs to spend less time developing iPad minis and more time on teleportation. This is the benchmark that I rate all new technologies against.

Share this article with your friends

Leave a Comment!

blog comments powered by Disqus