Creative Couples: Fangchi Gato & Felipe Ferreira

There's no right or wrong when it comes to creativity.

Fangchi Gato & Felipe Ferreira are both proud ADC members who know the secret to any long lasting creative relationship is…food. Half-kidding aside, this talented Creative Couple chews the competition with wide-brimmed smiles, sans spinach. Take Fangchi who is currently an Art Director at MullenLOWE NY on Harley Davidson and Remi Martin, and is the only Chinese creative who can read Nietzsche in German and hold a 16-pound tabby cat at the same time. Felipe has his share of skills too. The Brazilian Creative Director is making magic at SID LEE NY for Apple, Facebook and Stella Artois, and formerly at R/GA NY for Nike, Samsung, Beats by Dre and Google. Plus he skydives. Having met in Beijing while at BBDO, we wanted to know more about them. Read our Q&A below!

Names: Fangchi Gato & Felipe Ferreira
Ages: Both 29
Working Titles: Art Director & Creative Director
Location: New York, NY
Company: MullenLOWE & SID LEE


Felipe Ferreira

Instagram Felipe_01

Fangchi Gato


Tell us a bit about yourselves. How did you get here?

Felipe: Born from a Brazilian-Italian painter and physiologist mother and a civil engineer dad in Brazil, I grew up in an environment that allowed me to comprehend the intersection between the emotional and rational lifestyles — in other words, to appreciate the curiosity of an artist like Salvador Dalí and the iron fist of a leader like Darth Vader. Jokes apart, I have always been interested in meeting people from diverse backgrounds in order to make my own life and work richer. It’s more interesting to look at the world through many lenses rather than assuming that there is only one answer for everything. This search for “the new” directed me towards Design and Art Direction on a professional level. On the other hand, curiosity also led me to amateur skydiving back in the day. Some people find it brainless, but jumping from 11,000 feet above ground can make you rethink your next steps. (Please don’t tell my mom.)

For the past 12 years, I have been on a mission to reinvent some of the world’s biggest brands. I started working at São Paulo-based creative hot shops Grïngo (WPP) and CUBOCC (Interpublic) for Coca-Cola, Doritos and Absolut. It wasn’t long before BBDO Proximity invited me to run their office in Beijing as Creative Director on Volkswagen. Moving to China was quite an interesting life challenge since I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was determined to embrace the culture and use advertising to express my ideas.

In 2013, I had the pleasure of joining R/GA’s New York headquarters to work on Nike, Google and Samsung. The digital powerhouse allowed me to fully flex the creative muscles in one of the most multicultural agencies I have ever seen. In early 2016, I joined SID LEE New York as Creative Director to bring global perspective and relentless spirit to brands such as Facebook, Apple and Stella Artois.

Fangchi: I was born in the Siberian area of China with boiling blood to survive the extremely cold winter. This hot blood is the source of my passion, which I developed for art, film, music and philosophy. At the moment, I am obsessed with Michel Foucault’s structuralism. One big pleasure of mine is to discover the profoundly hidden connections between art, ideas, cultures and individuals. In other words, I love “connecting the dots” to see all these connections lead to the same humanistic core, the “primal oneness” as Nietzsche referred. For this reason, I always knew I’d move to another country to live in another culture. It happened to be here in New York.

In the past 7 years, I have worked for many brands. The clients I have served would fit in almost all brand categories, from automotive, liquor, personal care to sports and medical care. I was lucky to work with such variety of brands, which makes me feel a complete as an art director. It seems, there are not many Chinese art directors living and working in New York, probably because marketing and advertising is a rather recent thing in China. I hope my presence would add a touch of exoticness to the field.

Tell us how you met.

Fang: We worked at BBDO Proximity in Beijing at the same time. It was like any office romance, except that I have a cat.

Felipe: Two art-driven minds working and drinking (a lot) together can definitely lead into a love story. A Chinese-Brazilian relationship can sound quite exotic, but the truth is that we both have a lot to exchange — from watching Nordic noir movies while eating Brazilian BBQ to traveling to Fangchi’s Siberian hometown to see the ice sculpture festival. We try to enjoy a bit of everything.

Did you travel together from Beijing to NY?

F&F: Yes! Kind of. We were both looking for a next challenge after spending years in Beijing. Also, we were looking for a new home for our cat.

What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on to date?

F&F: In 2012, we had the pleasure of working together on a campaign entitled “The People’s Car Project” for Volkswagen, which democratized the design and building of VW cars for communist China. The effort garnered more than 40 awards at international festivals, including Cannes Lions, New York Festivals, CLIOs and Effies, and helped catapult our office to become the most awarded in Asia.

Felipe: I was able to do some of my best work at R/GA New York. I helped led the Nike and Samsung accounts to drive dozens of highly-successful product launches and create famous work that placed the brands at the center of popular culture. Most notably, “ANTIdiaRy,” a collaboration between Samsung and Rihanna, re-invented the album launch by creating an episodic, multi-platform narrative that allowed fans to dive deep into the psyche of a cultural icon. The campaign effort played a major role in helping Rihanna’s “ANTI” album to become the fastest album to go Platinum in history according to Forbes and Billboard Magazine.

Samsung x Rihanna ANTIdiaRy Case Study:

Videos throughout the ANTIdiaRy mobile experience revealed the backstories of a cryptic cast of characters. Watch them here and here.

Fangchi: One of the most interesting experiences for me was working as an art director for a Rémy Martin interactive mobile experience. It was a project created to introduce the cognac’s heritage. The female lead is very elegant and drags you into the story, which can be controlled with the movement of your mobile phone (through the accelerometer). Coming up with a story arc and making sure that there was a solid visual direction was an interesting challenge for me.

One Night / Live Them

What is the best thing about working as creatives in this industry? And the most challenging?

F&F: We believe that there is no better time to be a creative in history given the vast number of mediums and techniques for craft available to date. The best thing about working as a creative is that we got to inspire millions of people with visually-driven stories for international brands. We love the fact that our point of view makes all the way through the final work.

The most challenging? The skepticism of advertising professionals, clients and brands. There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to creativity. It is all subjective. But sometimes it’s hard to convince people around you about a story (or solution) in order to make everyone satisfied. It requires some salesmanship skills to sell the best ideas 🙂

When you’re working on something and you come to a disagreement, how do you usually resolve it?

F&F: We count to 10, drink some coffee and chat! Nietzsche wrote “Knowledge kills action”. Not having the complete knowledge normally leads into an emotional reaction. So we always try to keep things open and collaborative by digging for the most cohesive answers. This exercise allows us to find the most interesting ideas by comparing multiple thoughts. In other words, we try to focus on the complete work rather than on isolated ideas.

How does working in agencies differ from a freelance life?

F&F: We believe that it all depends on the moment of your life.

Working in agencies can allow you to consistently deliver work that will see the light of the day and build a deeper relationship with the people around you. You have to be willing to build a strong team and navigate through the rules if you want to create killer work in large scale. The more you work together with people, the better the team gets. Also, it’s more stable from a financial standpoint.

On the other hand, a freelance life allows you to dictate the pace and manage your life a bit more. The tricky thing about freelance life is that you have to accept the fact that your work might or might not be published.

How do your differences make you compatible? Professionally and personally?

Fang: Professionally, it is like “Brazilian Carnival meets Chinese Zen”. I’ve been brainwashing Felipe with some Confucian notions on constraining the self, not to be too harsh on the others, and sorts. But Felipe makes me realize that sometimes the best way to do things is to keep it simple and do it straight away.

The whole point is that we are not that compatible! We like different things so, every agreement comes with a twist. In our opinion, Creative individuals are attracted to one another because they aren’t completely compatible. They complement and learn with one another. It wouldn’t make sense to have a relationship with someone who thinks like you because things would get boring very quickly. We like seeing things from two or more different perspectives, and perhaps unlock a third way of seeing the world together.

That’s really cool about running creative through the ADC’s own president! Can you tell the world why being an ADC member is nothing short of amazing?

F&F: We can’t measure how much we respect ADC as an extraordinary organization that recognizes the best work and professionals of our industry. It’s a distinct pleasure to be a member of ADC and contribute with this incredible network in an international level. It’s apparent that everything ADC does has a bigger purpose — not only showcasing the best work through award ceremonies but also acting as a bridge between industry leaders and upcoming creatives. We love the fact that ADC cares very much about its members.

Besides reading Nietzsche in German, holding tabby cats, and skydiving, how do you guys unwind?

F&F: Food please! Having a proper dinner together is definitely the key to understanding one another. We only have one rule: we try to escape the routine by going to new restaurants every week, if not every day. Also, we love watching as many independent movies as possible, and playing Diablo on Xbox. (Sometimes we keep killing monsters until 3AM.)