CREATIVE DIRECTOR, COMMON GOOD, DENVER CO
I started my career as a graphic designer, then became an art director, then became a creative director. And all along the way, I have experienced the highs and lows of working with clients that do — or don’t — share my values. The former drives me to put all of my energy into creating conceptually clever, smart work that pushes my clients to success via creativity and emotional connection. The latter left me feeling hollow and sad, no matter how groundbreaking or clever the work was — or how successful the client became.
I’ve been lucky to have predominantly worked in the world of music and social good (things that excite me) for the majority of my career. I’ve worked in bigger shops, smaller shops, record labels and freelanced all over the map. But the one thing that really brought me the most happiness was feeling like my work could make a difference. Not just financially for my clients, but socially, as well.
That’s why I joined forces with Common Good. We call ourselves the “Health & Happiness Agency,” and our aim is to magnify the good brands can do in the world. Through the power of creativity and human insight, we craft work that not only drives our clients’ success, but simultaneously pushes positive impact (at a time when we need it more than ever). The indication we’ve done work that matters isn’t just about getting the biggest, shiniest awards — it’s about making change.
Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.
I had a job for a large part of my career in a small agency in Denver that focused on doing really conceptual and unique work. We worked on a lot of government accounts that were dedicated to positive purposes. For a lot of my time there, I was focused on how smart and clever our work was — I thought that was making me happy. Then, I realized what was really making me proud was that the work was actually achieving its goals: we were getting people to stop smoking, to seek help for meth, to use less water. And that’s when it all became clear for me — creativity really can heal the world.
Since then, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work on really fun initiatives, but the one that will always live as my favorite as a designer/art director would be Denver Water’s ‘Use Only What You Need’ Campaign. Recently inducted into Obie’s Hall of Fame, that campaign really made an impact. In Denver, water is a scarce resource and the work met the goals every year. So it was truly magical to help build a strategy that worked to convince people to reduce consumption — and then to craft award-winning campaigns year-after-year that always preserved a precious resource. Hats off to a fearless client on that, as well a great leader in my CD.
Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does this moment in time present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?
In the last three years, the world has changed more than it has the rest of the years I’ve been alive combined. The way we work has changed, the climate of the world (literally and politically) feels more tense than ever. And all this just motivates me to push our mission at Common Good forward even more. I love to embrace the changes, to find new ways to work and thrive in what is our new normal. We cannot look back, but must welcome where we are today and as an industry unite to use our powers to make a positive impact.