Member News July 21, 2015
by Brett McKenzie
When Ignacio Oreamuno moved to New York in 2012 to take on the role of ADC Executive Director, he was tasked with brushing some of the dust off of a near century old creative institution. With a focus on ADC’s founding principles of artistry and craftsmanship, he transformed the Club in many different ways.
As he steps down from his role to pursue some open road soul searching, we caught up with Ignacio to reflect on ADC’s past three years.
Dude! What’s going on here?!
(laughs) The last three years have been some of the most incredible years of my life. We took a club that needed a rebirth, and we pushed it to a level, a speed, and an intensity that I think was unique to its 95-year history. The importance of community and of craft in our trade is something that we took extremely seriously, and we took it all across the globe, to let the world know that we were the guardians of these ideals.
Over that time, I pushed myself very hard, and I also learned new things, about the industry and about myself. I saw a change in the industry, one that has been going on for more than a decade, and one that made say that it was time to step out and grow as a human being. I’ve been trying to change the industry ever since I got into the industry nearly 15 years ago, and I felt that it was time for me to just unplug myself, and to figure out what my new direction in life should be.
Let’s step back in time a bit, more than three years ago, when you were first offered the job to lead ADC as Executive Director. What made you want such a role, such a challenge in the first place?
If you go back to the very beginnings of ADC, you’ll find that its foundations are based on love. Here was a group of people who got together as a community to value the artistry of the business. That’s something that I strongly identified with.
“If you go back to the very beginnings of ADC, you’ll find that its foundations are based on love.”
Once in your life, you get that opportunity to come to New York City. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” This was that opportunity for me. I wasn’t expecting it, and I’d never been particularly attracted to New York as a city, but it wasn’t about me or the Big Apple. It was about this beautiful place called ADC. Whether I knew it or not, my career was building towards such a position. Everything I did in my past, from being an art director to creating IHAVEANIDEA, was training for that moment.
So you came to New York, there was a big to-do at the Blind Barber to welcome you and your vision. What do you feel your mandate was when they handed you the keys?
Simple: to go all out, or not go at it at all.
ADC stands for something extremely important, and I felt that this was the moment in time where what the Club stands for is what the industry should stand for. In the past, artistry and craftsmanship were a given. To create design, to create advertising, it had to be beautiful. But in recent years, there has been a shift. There are so many talented and intelligent people in the industry that weren’t making beautiful things anymore, and I wanted to change that.
The first ADC event in the Oreamuno era: the welcome party at the Blind Barber, July 2012
“ADC stands for something extremely important, and I felt that this was the moment in time where what the Club stands for is what the industry should stand for.”
Changing the industry can be a tough road to hoe. Looking back, what do you think was the biggest obstacle to change?
The biggest obstacle for ADC, and for other similarly minded organizations, to put it bluntly, is money. We’ve become an industry where creativity has been replaced by marketing. It’s run by different people with different ideals and agendas, and for many of those people, supporting creativity is no longer seen as a necessity. It’s not where they move their money.
Despite that admittedly big obstacle, ADC has created some pretty remarkable things, in your era, from the ADC Festival to the Let’s Make The Industry 50/50 Initiative. What are your thoughts on such ventures?
Everything we created at ADC was done for the industry as a whole. The 50/50 Initiative is a great example of this. In the course of a week, we put our foot down and said there was absolutely no reason why we couldn’t have equal gender representation on our award show juries. No more lamenting about how there weren’t enough women; we just did it. Other award shows joined us in doing so, and even the ones who wouldn’t — Cannes Lions, for example — they had to at least look at our direction and take it upon themselves to create something to address it in their own way. I’m very proud of that.
The ADC Festival was another proud moment for me. We created a festival that celebrated artistry and craft, a festival designed for true creatives, not for the number crunchers. It was beautiful and emotional to experience, and only the hundreds of attendees each year know how magical it was.
But beyond that, to look back at all of the things we’ve done over the past three years, it’s mind-boggling to think it that it was all created by a handful of people in New York and abroad in support of our community.
“… to look back at all of the things we’ve done over the past three years, it’s mind-boggling to think it that it was all created by a handful of people in New York and abroad in support of our community.”
Speaking about that handful of people, of course you didn’t do it all by yourself.
The past three years have been a 110% group effort, from every single person at the Club. When I arrived at ADC, I warned everyone that I would be pushing them very hard, and I did. But I never wanted to be the conquering hero; I wanted everyone to work with me, and to be better at their tasks then I could ever hope to be.
I’m particularly proud of the fact that we had many young people on staff — some of whom have never had an industry job before — and we worked hard to foster change. (laughs) I don’t know if they even realize how many great things their passion and dedication built.
I’d also like to acknowledge the ADC Board of Directors. We have some incredible board members want nothing but the best for ADC, and I know that they will be more actively participating in the Club in the future.
But as great as everyone has been, I would be remiss if I didn’t single out our Director of Operations, Olga Grisaitis. Olga has been with ADC for more than twenty years, and her spirit lives through everything we do. I don’t fear leaving the Club because I know it will be in her capable hands.
Just a glimpse of the ADC events over the past three years
So… what’s next for you? What’s this about you getting an RV?
(laughs) I’m hitting the road! I’m putting everything in storage, and I’ll be traveling with my girls for as many months as I can. No home, no definite plan or destination. We’ll go up to the Canadian Maritimes, we’ll go through Quebec and Ontario, through the Midwest, through Montana and Utah and Colorado. We might even drive all the way to Costa Rica. Who knows? We’ll just be on the road, living a simple life.
Ultimately, this is about learning things about the world and myself. It’s time for me to be a human being again, to find my place in the world.
“Ultimately, this is about learning things about the world and myself. It’s time for me to be a human being again, to find my place in the world.”
If you could impart wisdom on the world after these three crazy years, what would it be?
I think everyone needs to remember to not be a passenger in your own industry, in your own life. If you don’t take care of things, nobody will. Young people: take the reins. It’s your fire and soul that can change things. Slow down, and take care of the world around you. Examine if your skillset is being used to its capacity and in the right way. Is this the best use of the life you have? Stop the insane race to nowhere; reflect on what makes you happy, and act accordingly.
I’m doing just that, and I am not afraid.
Tags: Ignacio Oreamuno