Read our conversation with Marta Szmyd, our new Creative Director starting in 2022. How does she compare her experience working at a smaller studio, and what is the most difficult aspect of being a creative director? Keep on reading to find out.
You joined Admind at the end of 2022, coming from a smaller design studio. How would you compare these two experiences, and did anything particularly surprise you in Admind’s approach to project management?
If I were to identify the primary differences between managing projects at a boutique design studio and working at Admind, I would first highlight the task completion pace. Our clients at Admind are predominantly large brands with robust structures and dedicated personnel for collaborating with a branding agency. This streamlined collaboration ensures clear deadlines and efficient work planning. Conversely, smaller studios, typically dealing with smaller brands, often face unresponsive clients, flexible timelines, and potentially significant delivery delays. These factors complicate planning timelines, designers’ capacities, and budget management. Another noteworthy point is Admind’s emphasis on structured development, career path planning, and goal setting for designers. This approach allows our team members to visualize their career progression and concentrate on their desired professional direction. In contrast, smaller design studios usually address this process more sporadically, without structured support or a clear plan.
From a personal perspective, the scale of the clients is the main distinction. At this stage in my career, I am particularly drawn to working with intricate design systems and large global brands, welcoming the challenges inherent in such collaborations. Reaching clients of this size, let alone delivering the scope that these clients require, is nearly impossible for a small studio.
Along with your experience in project and team management, you’ve spent many years teaching at the university. How has learning in art school evolved over the past decade or so? Are current students more informed about what branding entails?
Significant changes have indeed taken place in recent years. Students today are more cognizant of the opportunities awaiting them, have easy access to global design trends, and can acquire knowledge and experience not only from their instructors but also from a wealth of online and offline resources. This presents a considerable challenge to academia. In an ideal scenario, all academic teachers would stay abreast of current trends, actively engage in design practice, and serve as career role models for their students. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While progress has been made, and academia now better prepares students for professional challenges, there is still much room for improvement. To achieve this ideal state, teaching roles must be made attractive – financially and in terms of prestige – to design professionals, thereby encouraging them to instruct future designers with commitment and conviction.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge in the role of a Creative Director?
As is often the case when juggling project management with people management, the latter proves more challenging. As designers, we excel at creating, executing, and delivering outstanding designs. We are adept at showcasing our team’s work and conveying our ideas to clients – this aspect of a Creative Director’s job is enjoyable. However, team leadership presents an entirely different set of challenges. It calls for abundant empathy, a personalized approach, and the ability to identify each individual’s growth opportunities and foresee potential risks that might impact the entire team. As Creative Directors, we must always stay a step ahead in the process, consider the bigger picture, anticipate outcomes, and prepare our team members for what lies ahead. Therefore, our role is deeply embedded in process management, workflow optimization, planning, and building a business around creative services to ensure the success of the entire organization.