What features made you pick the University of Texas for your undergrad and masters work? What other schools did you consider?
UT was actually the only school in Texas that I applied to. I was really interested in going out of state to get a different experience, but in the end I realized that UT had the best program for what I wanted to do out of the schools I had originally applied to. After changing my major a few times (Studio Art, Art History and Advertising) I ended up loving the Texas Creative sequence so much that I decided to take another year and complete my masters. This ended up being pretty good timing, considering the economy when I graduated in 2009 and it gave me more time to work on my portfolio and find a job.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UT?
No matter how great an execution looks, if the ideas not there, the ad is weak. UT taught me how to build a solid foundation around a good idea with just a pen and a piece of paper, then to start executing.
How important are internships to those hiring at advertising agencies? What role did your internships play in landing you a job at GSD&M?
When searching for a job or an internship, the most important thing is going to be your portfolio. It does not matter if you interned at the most creative agencies in the world if ultimately your book sucks. Your portfolio is the best way to show people that you can think. But, if you can squeeze an internship or two into your busy school schedule, I would definitely recommend it. You can get your foot in the door, make some valuable networking connections, and learn what agency life is really like while building your portfolio at the same time.
Interning at GSD&M played a big roll in landing a job. It gave the agency a chance to see that I could think as well as test out my work ethic. I worked really hard as an intern and put in as many hours as I could while taking 15 hours or more of grad school classes each semester. It was hard and I didn't sleep very much, but in the end it was definitely worth it. Don't do an internship just to have an internship on your resume, you'll get nothing out of it and neither will the agency.
What is the biggest difference between school and the real world? How would you tell those about to graduate to prepare for this difference?
Although the transition wasn't night and day since UT does a good job getting students involved with real clients and I had been interning at GSD&M for a while, the biggest difference for me was getting used to having tight deadlines pop up when I'm not expecting them and estimating the amount of time it is going to take to complete a project.
In school, you get a syllabus at the beginning of the year that outlines everything you'll have to do for the rest of the semester. I was always the type of person who would perfectly plan out my schedule so that I would have my projects done and turned in 24 hours before it was actually due just to be safe. In agency life, you don't always have the luxury of time. Working late is nothing new, but working up until the very last minute still makes me pretty uncomfortable. I'm still perfecting my time management skills.
As an AD, where do you find your inspiration? When and where do you feel the most creative? When are you in the zone?
I always feel most creative when I haven't thought about the assignment in a few days after I've already spent one or two rounds of thinking on it beforehand. I guess my brain just needs time to subconsciously stew on the idea, which makes the return flight home from any trip a particularly good place to start concepting again. On an airplane I'm relaxed, headphones are on, and I try to get a nice window seat so I can stare into oblivion and just focus.
GSD&M is also pretty lenient on what creative's do with their hours, but I can't take two days off all the time, so my partner, Charlie, and I often resort to playing Wii in one of the conference rooms to give our minds a break. It's amazing what 10 minutes of sword fighting can do. Otherwise I find inspiration reading blogs and surfing through websites. I also paint in my spare time, which is a refreshingly physical process compared to being on a computer all day. But, I do miss the command + z button.
What do you do to unwind after a long day at work?
Well it depends on what you call a long day at work. On the really long days, I go straight to sleep because it is probably past my bedtime. But on a normal day, I'll go run the trail, hang out with my roommates, catch a happy hour or watch some of my favorite TV shows.