No matter the industry, earning the coveted title of creative director is a great accomplishment. Not just because it provides you with a broad sense of creative freedom — any creative person’s dream — but also because getting the job requires an enormous amount of work. Creative directors must possess a very specific and well-honed skill set in order to inspire others to make their vision a reality. And, given how desirable the creative director position is, the competition can be pretty stiff.
We reached out to three inspiring creative directors from varying backgrounds to see how they landed the role, what their day-to-day looks like, and what advice they have for others aiming for the same gig.
1. Page Hudson, Creative Director, Second Story
Paige Hudson, 35, is the creative director of Second Story, a network of experiential design studios that help elevate the art of storytelling through various media.
How She Landed the Job: “Second Story found me and recruited me. We spent about two months having exploratory conversations, during which time we talked about the company, my concentration, and what kinds of things we could make together. What sold me was having the opportunity to build experiential environments you can physically walk into. I wanted to make spaces that deeply engage people and go on to live in the world for longer than two to three days. To me it is so much more rewarding to make things that allow people to play, connect, stay curious, and question the world around them.”
Her Day to Day: “My day-to-day involves eating scoops of peanut butter as fast as possible in between meetings. More seriously, I usually have a mix of client meetings, new hire interviews, new business pitches, one-on-one walks outside that double as mentorship meetings with members of the creative team, public speaking opportunities, and strategy meetings to think about everything from our studio process to our business approach. Also, I’m often traveling — as in 14 plane rides in the past month.”
Her Best Advice to Aspiring Creative Directors: “Don't force yourself to fit inside of a box. The industry wants people who are breaking the mold. Diverse talent and diverse voices are going to build memorable stories and innovative cultures.”
2. Mark Prommel, Design Lead, Pensa
Mark Prommel, 42, serves as the design lead at Brooklyn-based product design firm, Pensa. The firm’s mission is to help other companies improve products and user experiences.
How He Landed the Job: “My current business partners, Marco Perry and Kathy Larchian, are two brilliant, talented, and creative people with whom I had worked with years earlier. We went our separate ways, then about 11 years ago they had started Pensa while I was at another design firm. When they presented the opportunity to join them, I quickly said yes. Over the years, it has been tremendously exciting to build a design firm together that collaborates with such a wide variety of innovative clients.”
His Day to Day: “It varies quite a bit, but typically my time is split between leading and working with our creative team to design product innovations like these, and cultivating both existing and new client relationships. It is a constant balance between keeping an eye on the big picture vision of the company, while diving into the details of our work to push things forward.”
His Best Advice to Aspiring Creative Directors: “In your early design career, there are two major things to remember that go a long way: work hard and be humble. This may sound cliché, but I have found it to be universally true. Being talented is a given, or you wouldn't have an opportunity, but you must master the skills, craft, and processes needed to achieve consistently stellar results in your chosen creative field. It takes years of grinding, learning, and practice to truly become a great doer in design.”
3. Jenny Yoon, Founder and Creative Director, Kinn Studio
Jenny Yoon, 33, is the founder and creative director of Kinn Studio, a jewelry boutique that specializes in modern pieces meant to be passed down as heirlooms.
How She Landed the Job: “My parents' house was robbed a few years back and all of our family heirlooms were stolen. My intention was to replace what was lost, and thankfully I met a few great bench jewelers in Los Angeles to help me make some of the most beautiful pieces. It was just a matter of time before my friends started to ask to make them custom pieces. Fast forward a year and a half, and there are supporters of Kinn's story, value, and our jewelry. I enjoy my role because I get to make pieces that I love, work with people that I respect, and most importantly, share our story with thousands of people.”
Her Day to Day: “My day usually begins early. I like to walk my St. Bernard in the morning and listen to a podcast to spark ideas, thoughts, and insights. Then I look at my calendar to block out things I want to absolutely get done for that day. Once I'm in the studio, my day is pretty planned out with tasks and meetings, which can be anywhere from visiting the manufacturer, interviewing someone for our Muse Monday Series, or building out a mood board for the next campaign. My day winds down with some sort of a workout and a really good night of sleep.”
Her Best Advice to Aspiring Creative Directors: “Ask questions and ask for honest feedback. I used to shy away from asking for feedback, whether that's because I wasn't confident in what I was doing or because it wasn't perfect for any feedback yet. I quickly realized that people are very open to sharing their feedback, and it not only validates my own ideas, but also helps spark new ideas that I didn't get a chance to think of myself. All the while, don't forget to stay true to yourself and trust your instincts.”
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