What would Sha typically be doing on a day off of work?
Something outside of the home. The wife and I enjoy going to events, baseball games, and Costco apparently. We’re heading into what looks like to be a pretty fantastic snow season, so with any luck you can find me weaving between the trees down a mountain.
What motivates you in advertising?
Good people. Both on the client and agency side. Working with and for people who appreciate your expertise and value your opinion is unparalleled. Having mutual respect makes the project a team effort and gives you the secret motivational ingredient, empathy.
If you could work with any brand right now, who would it be and why?
Any Certified B Corps. These organizations have to go through rigorous vetting to make sure they meet many goals of sustainability and philanthropy. They have a clear vision, aspirational goals and strong ethics to guide them through a changing business frontier. I believe all B Corps inherently have an edge and are ahead of the curve. Millenials and Gen-Z alike are far more favorable of companies that have a genuine story, are environmentally responsible and/or cause oriented. B Corps are pioneers and are setting new standards for businesses.
What are three things that people thinking about going into design or art direction should know?
1: It’s not a hobby. If you want to be successful, you must be committed and genuinely interested in the industry. There is no off – it’s waking up with creative solutions, noticing poor kerning on a windshield, regularly identifying typefaces, taking note on how they were used, questioning the perceptions and standards advertising is propagating, etc. If design is your side bae, you’re not a designer, you’re a hobbyist.
2: Designers are like Whiskey. The best whiskeys have a solid mash bill encased by an interesting barrel. In this metaphor, the mash bill is composed of all the traits inherently unique about the designer and the barrel is made of their influences and inspiration. As a designer/art director, you should continually be adding to your mash bill by being open to new approaches, challenging ideas and potential failures.
Also, always look to build yourself a better barrel by opening yourself up to new interests and experiences. Watch Japanese Pro Wrestling one night then Dancing With the Stars the next. Know how to snowboard and how to sew. The more diverse your barrel, the more appealing you’ll be to agencies and clients. A lot of the job is about making brand stories relatable. Varying what you’re exposed to and understanding why others might enjoy it will help you tell relatable stories.
3: It’s not about you, but it is. Your job is to help the client tell their story. Ultimately, it’s their problem you’re trying to solve, not yours. Keep the focus on what is best for them. However, they hired you not someone else. Your influences, approach, and style are important. Don’t discount that.
What do you like to listen to while you work?
Lately, metalcore has been in heavy rotation (pun intended). The genre fits well with the pace I’ve been moving at. Fit for a King, Beartooth and Architects released new albums this year that are all pretty killer. For some extra aggression, I recommend Knocked Loose.
I do float between genres depending on the mood or project. While working on Moriarty, a small, cowboy town outside of Abq, I listened to 90’s honky-tonk. Rounding out the rest of my Spotify would be alt-rock, blues, reggae and hip-hop (check out Vince Staples “FM”).
You have an entrepreneurial side, what got you interested in finding different side-hustles?
Student loans. All kidding aside though, a love for creating things – even if no one else wants them. The nature of this industry is 90% of ideas will die on a hard drive somewhere. Those odds dramatically improve when you are your own client. I realized during a concepting session a burrito blanket would never get approved. But it was too ridiculous of an idea not to pursue. Thus, Seraparito Supply Co. was born, a company created to celebrate all things uniquely New Mexican. In addition to Seraparitos, we also have Green Chile Air Fresheners and Green Chile Candles.
I also blame the Cartoon Network show Ed, Edd, and Eddy for the entrepreneurial side. Eddy was the king of unsuccessful, entrepreneurial efforts. Like Wile E Coyote, he was fearless and relentless. I respected Eddy’s unbridled ambition and recklessness when it came to his schemes. Regardless of opinions (and sometimes physics) he pursued his endeavors, all to get something as trivial as jawbreakers for he and his friends.
Is there anything really egregious happening with design right now that you would like to speak out against?
The “Like” culture in design is poisonous. Platforms like Instagram and Dribbble are toxic for a designer’s mental health. Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s easy to be consumed by desire and envy when mindlessly thumbing through countless artists. The more you chase the likes, the more you lose sight of why you’re making work.
Can you give us one essential piece of advice for working in any part of the advertising game?
Find your solace. This world is fast and furious with a lot less Vin Diesel. When you’re immersed in it, there’s a high demand and relentlessness that exists. Find something that removes you from the world and recharges you. For me, I unplug from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. Doing so allows me to stay connected with my wife, family and other interests.
What would alternate-reality-Sha be doing for work right now?
Good thing there’s infinite realities. In one dimension, I’m an astronaut. In another a master distiller. In some others, still working on completing this questionnaire. In most others, non-existent.
Who’s going to win the World Series this year?
Dodgers of course. (Editor’s note: He was wrong. So very wrong)
This is a weird question because I’m writing about the future that’ll be read in the present as the past. It’s an interesting thought that words are written in the present but become the past when read in the future.