Ivan Raszl Founder and Creative Director, Ads of the World

TRUST talks to Ads of the World’s Ivan Raszl about thinking creatively, living internationally, and setting a good example for his kids.

Tell us about your background in design. What kind of work do you enjoy making, and do you still get to work on projects of your own? Does your current work allow you to be as creative as you would have been if you had continued on in design or academia?

I was originally trained as an engineer, but at my first job at GE Lighting, a colleague and I came up with a design solution to a business problem and the experience was professionally very satisfying. From then on I was ready to work in the creative field.

GE Lighting had a serious problem: too many broken lightbulbs during shipping and handling. At the time they were packed in cardboard boxes with paper inserts. We wanted to find a better solution, so we brainstormed and went to many places. Finally, we found a self-evident solution that was cheap, environmentally friendly, and an effective protection: molded paper pulp. The same thing that protects eggs. This new insert instantly reduced the waste, increased profits, and improved customer satisfaction. And all it took was rethinking design.

Later, I did a Masters in Arts. And I worked as a designer, art director, creative director, and general manager. Lately, I build websites and I’m planning to go into programming more. A few days ago with two friends, we started a project about tattoos and the stories behind them: http://inkntell.com

You’ve lived on at least four continents and speak five languages. What have been some of your favorite places to live and what do you think has driven you to be such a nomad?

I love to be surprised. Who doesn’t? And the best way to have culture shock is to live in various countries. It’s good to take short visits to a new place, but it takes a few weeks to get to know people well enough to visit their homes and be part of their lives. That’s when you learn about their values, their thinking, and their customs. Also if you take your time, you will discover places and events that are not normally visited by tourists or even most locals.

It’s good to take short visits to a new place, but it takes a few weeks to get to know people well enough to visit their homes and be part of their lives. That’s when you learn about their values, their thinking, and their customs.

From the places I have visited so far, I think the best two places are Singapore and Gold Coast, Australia. Both have civilization and wild nature side by side. They are clean and free with lots of stuff to do. I found people to be very friendly and open too. But I really like a lot of other places too for various reasons.

Most advertising websites are very regional – focusing on a particular city, coast, or country. How does Ads of the World attract and maintain such a diverse international audience? 

There is value in all models. I want to create a place that inspires in addition to being a reference. Therefore, next to the work of markets traditionally strong in advertising, I occasionally post weird and unusual stuff and student work. I believe if you want to stay consistently creative for a long time, as is required from creative professionals, you need to feed your brain with new experiences and be exposed to new work from around the world.

Dozens of readers told me in various ways that after a few months of reading AotW every day, they somewhat unexpectedly reached a new level in the quality of their creative output. That is usually also followed by a promotion and salary increase, not to mention a newfound joy in their profession. Because of this they see a great value in continuing to spend a few minutes every day checking out the posted material.

I think there are two very good reason for this effect. The most obvious is that seeing good work occasionally gives you new hope and inspiration to do good (not just acceptable) work yourself. The less obvious but more important reason is that being exposed to new ways of thinking gives you lots of references on how to approach a creative problem. I’m not talking about specific creative ideas, but strategic approaches. For example you learn that if you have to advertise a controversial brand, one good way to handle the situation is to be self ironic. You learn hundreds of such strategies which are useful in real work situations.

Which countries do you think have been delivering the most interesting creative this year?

I think Brazil consistently brings great art direction and illustration work. Australia brings new approaches and humor. Canada is doing great work overall. Israel is coming out with lots of decent work and they are somewhat new to the party. But it’s really hard to generalize by country, because in every country you find mediocre agencies and some really good ones. Even within one agency you can see waves of creativity coming and going. For example I’m missing the old CPB, but I’m confident they will rise again. I love what Fred&Farid is doing. Also, brands and agencies are becoming more global every year, so borders are becoming less important. Some of my recent favorites:

Brazil Print: MASP Art School: Dissected, Dali
Brazil TV: Flying Horse: Gatorrada / Cat-Toast
Australia Outdoor: Fantastic Delites: How far would you go? – Delite-o-matic
Australia Ambient: Shake It Up Parkinson’s Disease Charity: Shake Up Sydney
Canada Outdoor: Science World
Canada TV: Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation: Messages
Canada Print: Quebec Automobile Insurance Society: Seatbelts, Red
Israel TV: BBR Saatchi & Saatchi Tel Aviv: So what is Integrated Advertising?
Israel Print: Wrigley Orbit: Chicken
Russia Ambient: URA.RU: Make the politicians work
USA ambient: Memphis Redbirds Baseball: Dirty Car

You have two young children who have recently exited the toddler phase and are becoming/have become full-on “kids.” What are some interesting things you’ve learned from these tiny, newly dexterous people in your life?

Hah, really great question. I think the most interesting is that all your own character flaws bite you in the ass once you have kids because they mirror you in every way. For example, if you can’t handle failure you will have kids that scream after the first fall too. They are a great motivator to improve yourself because you don’t want to be a bad example to them. Although, a friend of mine told me his alcoholic father used to say: “My son, a bad example is still an example”.

Having kids also focuses you immensely, which is kind of counter intuitive because most people would think they must be a distraction. But actually, they are a great motivator to keep your shit together. Before kids most people just live without any well defined goals. I know I did. Once you have kids you know exactly what you want, which is for them to succeed and be happy in life. This clear goal puts everything into a new perspective and allows you to zero in on what’s important.

I admit I immensely enjoy having kids because I can blame all the toy purchases and time spent in fresh snow on them. It’s like a second childhood except that I can buy and do almost whatever I want. It’s truly great to be in the zone with them and switch off everything else.