What is a creative director?
In advertising, a creative director is responsible for leading a creative team or department—the writers and artists who create the work the agency produces. My background is in copywriting, so I understand the importance of developing a meaningful message as the foundation for any advertising/marketing campaign.
Where did you attend college and what did you study?
Loyola College in Maryland (now Loyola University Maryland). I was an English major with a business minor because I loved reading, but I also knew I needed some business skills to make myself marketable. I graduated in 2001 right when the economy tanked and it felt like the world was falling apart, so I decided to dive right back into the safety net of school and pursue my MBA while I was job hunting. I completed by MBA with a concentration in management from Loyola in 2003.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Well, for most of my childhood, I was hard-core committed to being either a fashion designer, a movie star, an astronaut, or the first female president—I had a lot of confidence before puberty hit. But all throughout my childhood I would write stories and “newspapers” for my family and friends. In 9th grade, after hearing me read one of my essays aloud in class, my best friends told me I should be a writer. I’d never thought of it as something I was actually good at, so I’m grateful to them for seeing something in me that I did not.
Who inspired you to be a writer?
Roald Dahl for creating worlds that I desperately wished as a kid were real.
Toni Morrison for inventing entirely new ways to put together words and sentences and still say something completely true and relatable.
Magazine writers, too. I’ve been a magazine reader my entire life, and from Seventeen to Entertainment Weekly to Vanity Fair, these writers have taught me how to retell facts as compelling stories.
Did you have any favorite writers or books growing up/now?
Aside from those mentioned above, I love and adore Stephen King and JK Rowling, the best story-tellers ever in my opinion. I’m always genuinely sad when their stories end.
What jobs and experiences led you to your current position as creative director?
I stumbled into advertising. I had interned as an editorial assistant/writer at magazine and was looking for a paying job as a writer. I applied for a job as a copywriter at an ad agency, truly not knowing what a copywriter was, but being really intrigued by their “we have an office pool table” vibe. I am forever grateful to them for teaching me the ropes of advertising. Since then, I’ve moved up the ranks through three other agencies, each time under great mentors. Copywriting is definitely a unique form of writing, and like everything else, it requires lots of real-world practice and learning from those who’ve done it before you.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Understand that there are many avenues for writers beyond being a struggling writer. The world needs copywriters, content writers, website writers, grant writers, proofreaders, editors, science writers…the list is long. Also, read as many different things as you can (fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, junk mail, billboards, plays, song lyrics, product packaging, etc.), because it will make you a better writer and feed you new ideas.
Is there any advice you were given that really stuck with you?
I’m grateful to my freshman year advisor who told me to study English over journalism. She said to use those 4 years to study what I loved, and that an English degree would give me endless opportunities, and she was right. An English degree teaches you how to think critically and imaginatively, and I use both those skills every day on the job.