Oreamuno Answers to an ADC Member

Just a few weeks in to his appointment as Executive Director of The Art Directors Club, Ignacio Oreamuno sat down with Brandon Burns to answer a few tough questions. Brandon, a long time ad man and ADC member since 2008, recently launched Favorly, a unique new on-line peer-to-peer volunteer network.

Curious about the new direction of the ADC, Brandon dropped by the Club to ask Ignacio what his goals and plans are, his vision for non-advertising initiatives for the Club, and his Open Door Policy and what members can expect from him moving forward.

Brandon: So, tell me about your first couple weeks at the ADC.

Ignacio: They’ve been incredible. I’m just absorbing information like crazy, finding out what has happened in the past, what has been implemented to date, and where we want to go from here. We are not going to mirror the past. We’re refreshing everything from the events we put on to the value we provide to members, to the core of the vision of the Club and the purpose of its existence. We’re igniting a new electricity and new energy in the Club, and a lot of new initiatives are brewing that will be announced in the coming weeks and months.

Brandon: As you have been getting up to speed, what are the biggest complaints that you are hearing?

Ignacio: Organizations around the world, like the Art Directors Club, can fall prey to repeating patterns that worked well in the past. Essentially, they can become risk-averse, which is ironic seeing as we’re in the creative industry. The Art Directors Club has the oldest history of any ad organization in the world, and while it already has exceptional content and offerings, it needs a little more innovation. That’s what I want to bring to the table.

Brandon: What should an organization like the Art Directors Club be to its members, in your opinion?

Ignacio: The definition of what an advertising and design club should be is two-fold.

First, it’s a place where you do most of your networking. In the creative industry, there’s a constant flow of hiring, firing, moving on to new opportunities and changing clients; in short, many people are switching jobs on a yearly basis. The Club needs to be the place, that neutral ground, to network and to connect with other amazing people in the all aspects of the creative industry.

The second thing that the Club needs to do is challenge you professionally. When you come to an event at the Club or if you read something on the site, it should “upgrade” your thinking and teach you new things. If you go to most advertising events or you attend conferences, are you really being pushed to the next level? If the answer is no, then the Club is failing you. Moving forward, the answer is going to be yes. I’m making changes so that the moment you walk through our door, go to our website or interact with the Club in any capacity, you’re growing professionally.

Whether you’re a creative, an art director, a designer, an illustrator, a photographer or a videographer, it doesn’t matter. You will be exposed to new things and grow, and your ADC membership is going to be the one thing that keeps you moving forward in your career. We want to be ahead of the game—ten years ahead of the agencies and ten years ahead of the industry, to figure out what’s coming next. A clear vision of where things are going will be the main responsibility of the Club.

Brandon: So how are you going to start to give your members more know-how?

Ignacio: We’re going to become a content machine. In the next few months, you’re going to see all of the websites change, integration with IHAVEANIDEA will be more evident, and the Club will be pumping out a lot more editorial. We will share why awards won, who the ADC members are, the stories behind the laureates stepping into the honor of the Hall of Fame, and more. We want to get to the bottom of it all and share a glimpse behind the scenes whenever possible.

Brandon: Cool. In my observation, it seems that the Art Directors Club has always been different in comparison to the other clubs because of the presence of non-advertising agency people and non-advertising work that’s represented in the show. Are you going to embrace that more and capitalize on that potential?

Ignacio: Absolutely. Advertising is my background, but while in the past campaigns were solely made by art directors and copywriters, that’s changing more and more each day. A campaign can be created by a designer, an interactive guy, an art director, a copywriter and/or an architect that designs the store. We can no longer hang out in silos with our own creative director buddies.

We all have to expand to other things and embrace the non-advertising for inspiration and partnership. In all of the events that I have done in the last ten years at IHAVEANIDEA, I have always pushed to invite other segments of the industry, so we can grow and learn about things we didn’t even know existed. I will be bringing that same sensibility to the Club. For example, this week we met with several photographers who are doing great things and want to work more closely with the Club. As members, they will have the opportunity to do just that.

Brandon: What kind of opportunities?

Ignacio: Well, the events we’re going to announce very soon will not be about advertising and design at all. They will be about something radically different that will make you think, “Whoa, that’s not supposed to be happening at the Club!” We want to be talking to those people who are creating cultural movements and bring more external culture into the advertising and design industry. In every other industry, that’s how it works. If you’re an architect, you might go hear David Suzuki speak and think, “Maybe I should start making more environmentally-sound buildings.” Mr. Suzuki is not an architect, but he can provide inspiration. We need to do a lot more of that, instead of listening to our peers talk about the same old things.

Brandon: What are your plans for the ADC Awards show?

Ignacio: Our show is incredibly unique because it started so long ago (we started in 1920, so we’re going on our 92nd year). The history here is impressive, and the fact is that the Art Directors Club was basically the first to say, “Hey, you know what? Advertising and design are art, and as art, we should have an annual award ceremony that celebrates all creative work.” We are essentially going to keep on building on that level of craft, but we now have two award shows: The Tomorrow Awards and the ADC Awards, which are two very different types of award shows filling two very different niches.

Brandon: How will you get this all done?

Ignacio: Everybody that has worked with me in the last 11 years knows that we’ve built IHAVEANIDEA, Portfolio Night and Tomorrow Awards with minimal resources. At most places, a person has one job: “Hey, you’re in PR, you’re a writer, you’re a creative director, you’re a manager.” In our world, one person did the job of five. I like to work with people like that, that count for five. A small team could do the work of a huge team if you love what you’re doing. If you’ve met anyone at IHAVEANIDEA, like Brett McKenzie and Nat Salguiero, people that have been with me for more than ten years, or have attended an event like Portfolio Night that started with four juniors, no money, and no sponsors, which just happened in 18 cities across the world, you’ll see that love for your industry can build anything.

Brandon: What’s being done right at the ADC?

Ignacio: The ADC has exceptional heart and soul. When you look at the annuals up there (points to a full collection of ADC Awards Annuals) and think about the Hall of Fame, the amount of love, sweat and tears that has been dumped into making the ADC what it is, and keeping it going through the years is incredible. It’s been done by enormously passionate people— dreamers that wanted to help their industry— and you can’t break that spirit, no matter what. I’m like that— I love what I do, I love this industry, and this is my blood— so that passion resonates with me. The frequency of the Art Director’s Club and my frequency just match. The past, and the vision of what the ADC founders had, is an inspiration that cannot be ever broken. We have a fantastic space, we’ve a history of great events, but we’re not looking back in any way.

Brendan: What can ADC members expect from you now and in the future?

Ignacio: Members should expect that the Club is now more open to them than ever. Meaning that they can come in, make an appointment and get access to me and to all of our resources. If you’re an art director, copywriter, designer, creative director, producer, filmmaker, artist, architect, digital creative…whatever it is that you need help with, well, we know everybody. We’re in the middle, we’re the neutral embassy, and we will connect people. My door is open to all our members, so if you make an appointment, I’ll sit down with you for a café Cubano or mojito, and I’ll make it my business to help you.

When I was just beginning as an art director, I went to my local ad club having just built IHAVEANIDEA and asked them for help. They basically snubbed me. They didn’t respond, they didn’t do anything, and it really bothered me because I had paid a membership fee that, as a student, felt like a lot of money just for a card. I never forgot that.

That’s not what I would ever want to do here. I want our membership card to be so valuable, to both local members and international members, that you have it in your wallet all of the time.

But the open door policy is bigger than just saying, “Oh yeah, come by and make an appointment.” Like I said, my background is advertising, so I want to have conversations with people outside of advertising as well. It’s a give and a take: I can help you, but I can also learn from you. If the Club is growing and our members are growing, I will be, too. If the Club is really yours, then you should be able to have an impact on what the Club is creating. I’m an email away and I always reply to all of my emails.

So keep me growing, keep me curious and keep me learning.