Q&A With Ignacio Oreamuno, Executive Director, Art Directors Club
New York is a great city, but it's not a great city for networking events. There are just too many things to do, too many places to eat and too many people to see, and it’s hard to stay focused. When I do an event, a hugely important focus is always networking. I like to think of myself as a social networking lubricant and a human Facebook of sorts. I love to introduce people in my network to each other, and help them make connections that have the potential to become money and opportunities. My entire career was built on contacts when I was a young creative; contacts whom I met at pools, karaoke bars and beaches.
Basing the Annual Awards and Festival in Miami Beach allows us to centralize everyone in one, big beautiful hotel and encourage this very important networking element. We also purposely scheduled in socializing free time each afternoon so that our attendees can converse and get to know each other at the gorgeous W South Beach pool.
I also hate to break it to you, but Miami Beach has sun, sand, pools and mojitos (all very important relaxants that are key for people to detach from work and be able to see things in a new perspective). I designed the entire Festival to transform everyone that attends. Many of us are tired and scared of all the changes happening in our industry, but attending our Festival will fill you up with creative energy, and make you see your career in a completely different light. I banned advertising speakers from this Festival so that we could source inspiration from truly creative artists outside our field who are exploring art, design and creativity at a level way, way higher than we are able to do in our day-to-day.
Miami Beach is also easier and more affordable to get to for our international travelers. I expect more people to attend from Latin America, Europe and Asia than we’ve seen in the past.
All in all, we are launching the only beachside creative festival in North America, and we created something completely different from Cannes. I'm not moving from Miami Beach, and I plan on growing the Festival intensely over the next few years. We'll be making an announcement at the Festival this year that will show just how ambitious we are about this plan.
We understand you once climbed a mountain so high you could see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans at the same time. When was it, where was it, how high was it, and did your feet hurt the next day?
The mountain was Cerro Chirripó in Costa Rica. It was a very important day in my life. I don't like doing things alone and yet one day I got it into my head that I wanted to climb this massive mountain. So I got some gear and left by bus into the middle of the country to climb this 3,800-meter mountain. It was very, very hard. Along the mountain road they put motivational signs of all kinds as you are going up. They also put de-motivational names for sections of the mountain to make fun of you, like a part where you seem to climb forever, called the "path of illusion," because every time you think you're finished you find more steep road.
The most intense experiences in life are free. The things that make you happiest are when you try new things you were previously scared to try. And life always finds a way to take you down a new path once you let go. I made great friends going up that mountain and I learned so much about myself. When I got to the top, it was 5 am and I could see the sunrise on both the Atlantic and the Pacific. It was very humbling and it's tattooed on my brain.
Every time I'm doing something hard, I remember that the view from the top of the mountain always pays for the pain you experienced going up.
What is there about the industry you think could use a firm kick in a new direction?
The entire industry needs a massive cold bucket of water. I'm making it my personal job to dump that bucket on the industry.
Despite the fact most creatives wear funky t-shirts and glasses, and ripped jeans, they are the most conservative bunch of people in the world. Agencies do not like change of any kind and everyone within is terrible at adapting to change. The way agencies handled the rise of the internet and then the introduction of social media was really sad. Everyone always gets taken by surprise, and the only reaction from holding companies is to buy companies that are capable of the new techniques.
If you are an agency full of traditional creatives, and you hire a social media expert and a creative technologist, it doesn't make the agency any more integrated. A real integrated agency would train all of its creatives on the new things that are coming in our industry. Yet sadly, agencies and creative professionals do not dedicate any significant amount of their time to train and upgrade their skills. Most creative directors think they understand the new technologies, but really they haven't dedicated time to educate themselves. We have a lot to learn from the medical, architectural and engineering industries, all of whom are constantly working to stay current and dedicating resources to educating their staff.
The most important thing that I'm crusading at ADC is a recommitment to art and craft. It's the most important part of the Club’s mission this year; at the core of the ADC Annual Awards and the one and only thing creatives should be focusing on right now.
I could write an entire magazine on this. We have spent the last decade obsessed with technology, and in the process we have all lost touch with our artistic side. Pure craft and reverence to typography, design, color and visual direction has been lost amongst young and old creatives alike. We cannot beat consumers on the technology front, when 12 year-olds are building better apps than most agencies, and amateur filmmakers with DSLR’s are shooting better films than we are doing with money from the client (peruse Vimeo if you don't believe me). More importantly, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each hour. We don’t stand a chance at competing with the volume of visual communications being created by the consumer. The only thing left in our arsenal is our expertise in art and craft. Creating a piece of film, or a photo, poster, app, event or experience that is so beautiful and gorgeous that consumers cannot do anything but be touched by it is our differentiator.
We must return to our roots or we will become marketing technologists, not creative artistic professionals.
You’ve done IHAVEANIDEA, Portfolio Night, Giant Hydra, the ADC, and Tomorrow Awards. What’s next?
ADC is a 92 year-old start-up. It touched my heart. I love the roots of its foundation, and I have learned and changed so much in the last 9 months that I owe it my focus and dedication for some time.
Life is very short. If you are not in this game to change the industry, to make world-changing work, to break with the past and get acquainted with our future, then it makes no sense to be in this industry. I'm passionately in love with it, and I intend to keep focusing on the future of where things are going. I’ll drag along any and everyone who is excited to see what is coming, and not trying to stay rooted in the dusty mausoleum of the past.
Before I took the Executive Director position, ADC had lost a lot of energy and direction. I completely tore down the old ADC and started from scratch, blending an ADC Global Network that comprises the best of ADC with the energy and strengths of IHAVEANIDEA, Portfolio Night and Tomorrow Awards. I'm focused on making it a world power and the number one champion of art and craft. I also intend on having a lot of fun, which has always been at the core of my professional philosophy and the basis of the culture of my companies.
Who would win in a fight, The Avengers or X-Men? Why?
X-Men has more ladies in tights, and women are way stronger than men in many ways. So yeah, they would kick the Avengers’ ass.