Learnings from my experience as an Art Director

Between 2010 and 2014 I’ve been working as an Interactive Art Director at the digital agency Hinderling Volkart AG in Zurich and the digital production company UNIT9 in London. My work included projects for companies such as Google, Ubisoft, MSN, Fendi, Lexus and many more. Thanks to the trust of the management at UNIT9 I had the chance to run the design department by the young age of 22 years.

When I co-founded the company Y7K just recently, I tried to sum up all the learnings from my experience:

  • A very detailed planning of projects helps people to focus on their work. Also you’re able to detect resource conflicts before it’s too late.
  • Working at one project is easier than working on several. Try to manage them one after another rather than simultaneously.
  • Don’t split developers, designers and account managers physically in different sections. Seat them in teams how they actually run projects. That means designer, developer, account manager all next to each other.
  • How your office looks like has a big influence on both clients and yourself. Create an atmosphere that you’re proud of and where you’d like to go to work every day. You will spend most of your life in that room.
  • Use the knowledge of your co-workers and ask them for their opinion. It makes them feel more important and helps yourself to improve your quality of work.
  • Reward people before they ask for it. Everybody that does great work asks for a pay raise sooner or later. If you approach them first, it will show that you recognise the persons efforts.
  • Credit people for every little thing they do.
  • Miscommunication and chaos is the worst. You loose immense amounts of time. Try to have a well organised company from the beginning on.
  • Push and challenge people to get the best results.
  • If you think somebody’s work is great, let them know. Show them that you’re very excited about it.
  • Always be as friendly as possible. Even if you have to say something negative, say it in a nice way. It will have a big impact on the atmosphere.
  • Respect if somebody asks for holidays, a part time job, flexible working hours or working remotely. It’s your task to make it work. It really pisses you off as an employe if you don’t get that free day you’re asking for.
  • Every person counts. Only hire people when you feel very very good about them. They need to have the skills you desire and equally imporant they need to fit in your existing team. Don’t be shy to let somebody go during the probation period.
  • Be proud of the people working with you. Don’t hide them. They only get stolen if they’re unhappy and this is exactly what happens if they don’t get enough attention.
  • If you get a compliment, recognition or even an award for a project, share it immidiately with every person involved.
  • Don’t think about awards, think about your clients.
  • There are shitloads of shit awards out there. Only enter the ones you respect.
  • Awards are a great promoting tool but they cost a lot of money and time. You probably could invest that more efficiently elsewhere.
  • Either work for free or fully paid — don’t do the projects in between.
  • There is always something more to do at the end of the day. It’s really all about self control how much you work.
  • Your own corporate identity says a hell a lot about yourself. Make sure everything you show to the clients looks amazing. This is what you sell.
  • The exectution is equally important as the idea.
  • Don’t be scared about sharing ideas. Give them the chance to grow by other people.
  • Don’t work with friends just because they’re friends.
  • Be aware that your people are not capable of everything. Try to work with external talents if you feel like a task can’t be well done by one of your team members.
  • Swallow your pride to get the best results. Admit if somebody’s idea is better than yours. It’s fine.

If you’re interested in my work have a look at my portfolio or the website of my agency.

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