FoxFuel is always looking out for the young guns. Mostly because a lot of them terrify us. Believe us, you wouldn't want to see a student in a dark alley. If you turn your back on them, they will certainly attack you, take your job, your clients, empty out whatever is in your pockets, and leave you alone, with a bruised body and ego. They are heartless, soulless harbingers of death and destruction.
Well, maybe that's too far. But, the point is that you need to watch out for them because they are watching you. That’s why our creative director was happy to sit down (he was threatened) and take ten questions from a young gun who is currently interning with us.
- How do you stay inspired?
When I first started out, I only looked at communications arts and Lürzer’s Archive, but it left me a little discouraged. Honestly it wasn’t keeping me inspired to only look at the finished product. Sometimes, you need to be inspired on the thinking or the process itself and not just the execution. Also, reading articles and blogs has always been a way for me to open my mind up.
- What is the difference between fine art and design?
Simply put, the difference is who makes the decisions. If it’s design, you are most likely getting paid to solve a business problem for someone else. In art, the creator can make all the decisions. I think there is a lot of power in getting as close as possible to making something done for business purposes look like it had no compromises. That’s when advertising and creative work can be artful.
- How do you balance work and life when working at an agency?
It is a day-in-day-out effort. The biggest for me is the communication of everything you have going on—your commitments, schedule, and constraints. That’s the best way to avoid stress. There have been lots of times when I have committed to too much and it ran me down and then everything suffers. I have found that paying attention to those close to you, and listening to them, is a way to keep your commitments both in and outside of work in balance.
- Why have you aged so much in the past five years?
There are several things that can turn your hair gray. Running a business. Having kids. But mostly, managing interns. Thanks guys.
- Do you have any advice for young creatives trying to stand out in a job search?
I would say don’t rely purely on emails. Get out there and meet people. Build your network. And always bring your work to an interview. Get creative with presenting yourself and your work. Showing something unique and effective in your first impression shows an ability to do great work for an agency’s clients.
- How can emotional intelligence help the process of creating work?
Empathy is necessary, and true empathy only comes from knowing yourself well. Emotional Intelligence will change the way you interface with your team, your boss, and especially your clients. That means you get your work sold more often. Who doesn’t want that?
- What should be our focus in school vs. when we graduate?
In school, you should focus on how to work. When you graduate you should focus on working hard. I also think building a network of peers and contacts is very vital, especially in a city like Nashville.
- What do you think is the most important thing to look for in a first job?
It might be very cliché to say, but you need to find a great boss. Someone that you want to emulate sure, but also someone who wants to teach you. The learning never stops. I think designers and writers really progress when they become self-reliant learners, not experts. I'm aware how hypocritical this is to say. Deal with it.
- Do you think that all this self-deprecating humor isn’t transparent?
Look, we all cope in different ways, let me have this.
- What’s something you wish you would have been told when you were still in school?
I wish I knew that design is not just a craft. I think schools still educate like it is, and that can be very limiting. Your ability with programs and apps isn’t as important as your ability with concepts and ideas. You should learn how to use all the tools expertly on your own time and focus on the thinking and possibilities while at school. If done right, you will see everything differently when you graduate.
Michael is the Creative Director and co-founder of FoxFuel Creative. He loves British music, vintage German cars, and American history, and his sarcasm knows no bounds. #DreamBig