EXECUTIVE DESIGN DIRECTOR, DROGA5, NEW YORK NY
In the past 17 years, Rob Trostle has journeyed from NYC to San Francisco and then back to NYC, all the while pushing the boundaries of design in both academia and business. Since 2015, he has been building a design department at Droga5 that works across all the agency’s clients. Droga5 is Adweek’s 2016 Agency of the Year. Previously, Rob founded Golden Arm Inc. to explore the relationship between business and design and to implement design thinking to maximize creativity within an office culture. Before that, he spent 15 years working with a range of clients both independently and at Mother, Anomaly, BBDO and other agencies. During this period, Rob spent two years investigating failure as a way of generating better work. While earning an MFA from the Yale, he wrote an excerpt titled “The Power of Leaving Things Half Done” for Steven Heller’s book Design Disasters: Great Designers, Fabulous Failure, and Lessons Learned. All of this experience has helped Rob tackle his biggest challenge yet ‑ teaching students advertising concepts and campaigns at Parsons School of Design.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I was born in Arlington TX and now live in the Financial District in NYC.
DID YOU GO TO DESIGN SCHOOL?
I did not go to an undergraduate design school. After working for approximately 10 years, I decided to get my masters and teach. Both of degrees are from Yale.
LEFTY OR RIGHTY?
Both. When it comes to writing, I’m definitely more right-handed. Other activities, like cutting vegetables, I prefer to use my left-hand.
MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
Definitely a night owl. Although I wish I was a morning person because that’s when I feel most creative.
FICTIONAL OR HISTORICAL CHARACTER YOU’VE ALWAYS IDENTIFIED WITH?
Charlie Brown because he is constantly trying to come to terms with the world around him, all of the confusion that arises from that, and his best and most reliable buddy is his dog, Snoopy. The one he doesn’t have expectations from and can escape the reality of Lucy always pulling his football away.
ARE YOU MUSICAL AND/OR DO YOU PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?
I’m more a dancer than a music player but I like to listen to music and dabble in some lo-fi beat making.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TV SHOW?
LAST BOOK YOU READ?
The Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
My plants, which I’ve stopped naming
WHAT LANGUAGES ARE YOU FLUENT IN?
English and I can get by in German and Spanish … CSS … and Emoji, barely.
Dark Crystal, Rushmore, Casino, Dances with Wolves
FAVORITE FINE ARTIST?
Bruce Nauman, Maurizio Cattelan
I sit on the board of Global Camps Africa, which provides education to children in South Africa.
FAVORITE FREE TIME ACTIVITY?
Looking at Tumblr or Pinterest
WHAT’S THE LAST COMPLIMENT YOU GOT?
Not good at receiving or remembering
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
Yes, View-Masters stereoscopes and reels
COLOR USED MOST OFTEN IN YOUR DESIGN?
TYPEFACE USED MOST OFTEN?
DO YOU HAVE A DESIGN MENTOR OR INSPIRATION?
GREATEST STRENGTH/WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER?
Weakness is finishing a project. Strength is selling a project.
ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
It’s more important to know how to talk about your work than to make your work.
IF YOU WERE NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
A self-sustaining person – someone who can produce everything you need, understand how things work, and if you don’t, you can figure it out. You don’t need the idea of earning more to get more, there’s a certain amount to say enough.
A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
Everything is an opportunity.