Creatives to Know – A Solid Approach

by Jonathan Marshall

I found this great interview of Up-and-Coming Creatives featured in the top stories/news section of Creativity Online, a blogosphere featuring the Best in Advertising, Design and Digital Creativity. Katie McCarthy, an Art Director, and Jessica Shank, a Copywriter, both of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Creativity Online
Creativity Online

The interview starts with some background info on the two, and then gets into the Q&A. I like the way both McCarthy and Shank answer when asked the question: “What was their biggest challenge in the last year”?  It’s easy to get caught up in the hype, whether it’s for iconic brands, or for the latest Facebook application. Sometimes when you are dealing with enormously recognizable brands, the history, previous campaigns and detail-management can really intimidate and take a tole on your creative output. Other times, when you are always trying to one-up a long and frankly unnecessary list of social media applications, it can also become counterproductive. The answer is just stepping back, re-evaluating, and looking at the project from the consumer’s standpoint, which is so obvious, yet so easy to forget. It all became so much easier when Shank asked herself the simple question, “Would I use that?”  This is a simple, yet extremely useful way to approach your projects amongst all of the crazy advancements in the industry, because ultimately, it’s all about the consumer, not the hype. Great entry guys, check out the article by Creativity Online below.

Hometown: (McCarthy, pictured left) Minneapolis, Minnesota; (Shank, pictured right) Lyons, Colorado
Previous Jobs: (McCarthy) Facepainter, Barista, Beer Table Attendant, TDA Advertising and Design; (Shank) Bennigans (server), nanny, ManiaTV (now de-funct internet television network), TDA Advertising and Design
Recent Projects:, White Gold campaign and for the California Milk Processors Board (CMPB)
Career Landmarks: and; documentary for Häagen-Dazs to tell the story of their “Scoop Flavor Search Contest;” (Frito-Lay)

What was your biggest challenge in the last year?
McCarthy: When we were working on, and we were faced with the challenge of completely overhauling the iconic brand’s website. The site was extremely content heavy, and there were so many details to manage from day to day that it could get overwhelming. It was easy to get too myopic with the whole project, but when we learned to take a step back and look at the bigger picture it helped our creative process immensely.

Shank: Everyone wants to create a Facebook app or do something freaky deaky with Twitter, but this past year, I often found myself critiquing all of our ideas with the thought, “Would I ever use that?” And the bottom line is that, when I’m just a Facebook user, not an ad person, I like Facebook how it is. I think the challenge is, how do brands create dialogues with consumers in a way that everyone benefits? Occasionally, Katie and I have endured self-loathing moments where we fear we’re just going to pollute the world with more clutter. But on our optimistic days, we really just try to figure out what would entertain us and add value to our lives.

What are you excited about in the wider world of creativity?
McCarthy: Artists are increasingly empowered to see and be seen by others. The barriers to entry are breaking down and it’s really become an open playing field. Instead of relying on art galleries, a painter can now sell their own work online, and an aspiring filmmaker can post their work on YouTube and have an instant audience. It’s inspiring to see the abundance of tools and information available to the general population that used to only be available to a select few.

Shank: It seems like a lot of people don’t give themselves permission to be “creative” because they don’t think they’re emo-art-student enough to pull it off. Lately though, perhaps because of the DIY trend, I see more accountant and lawyer types throwing off their self-imposed shackles and dabbling in creative pursuits. Ten years ago, my friends called me a grandma for knitting in my dorm room. Now those same friends are making up knitting patterns on their lunch breaks. Creativity shouldn’t just be reserved for people who get paid for it.