"Show the work you truly love."
From Flywheel print ads to quirky animated videos, Tyler Maxson has (art) directed it all! Now, he's spilling the deets, including the blogs that keep him motivated and his best advice for moving ahead in your career.
DesignRush: Take us through your morning routine.
Tyler Maxson: I'm not a morning person. I wake up, shower, and I'm out the door in 30 minutes. I have about an hour long commute on a bus where I catch up on news and watch YouTube. Until recently, I had never utilized YouTube subscriptions, but now, I follow people who make cool things that interest me -- it’s a very inspiring way to start the day.
DR: What makes a great work environment for you?
TM: For me, a great creative environment requires great people. And T-shirts. I don't think it's possible to be creative while wearing a suit. When you feel relaxed, you can be yourself and show your sense of humor. I think every great idea starts with someone laughing and saying, "wouldn't it be funny if..."
DR: Tell us about your first big project. What did you wish you knew before you started, and what did you learn on the other side of the project?
TM: I'll tell a story about a recent big project that included a lot of firsts for me.
The back story: Over the last year, I've become interested in film. I shot and edited some clips I took while I was traveling and decided I wanted to tackle a bigger film project. I wanted to do it outside of work -- no clients, no creative directors. But I needed an interesting subject matter. While I was unpacking some boxes from my old office, I found an old Cannes Lion. (It was given to me at a liquidation sale with the purchase of a mini-fridge. I used to display it as a joke.) Finding this Lion was the ticket, the only reason I even held onto it in storage was that I knew I would find a good use for it one day. The company I work at now has an open floor plan where no one has an office and we don't even have a trophy cabinet. So I thought, "if you win a lion, you have nowhere to display it?"
I came up with a bunch of different ideas and bounced them off of some friends. I decided on melting it down to make cufflinks as a way to show off winning a Lion (who doesn't love bling?). I contacted about 50 different metal casting companies around Manhattan trying to find someone who would be willing to take on this project with me and allow me to film the whole thing. Of all the people I talked to, there was only one company who was willing to play ball. So the choice was easy. It took about five days spread out over four months to make this come to life. The website is live at CannesCuffs.com, and you can find all the process videos there about how we actually made them.
I'm really happy with how they turned out and was excited to make something physical for the first time instead of digital. I sold a few pairs and they were worn on the red carpet this year. They were even mentioned on Cannes official YouTube page.
Here's what I learned from the entire process: Designing, filming, editing, and recording is EASY (for me). The hard parts? Scheduling and managing all the parties involved in the process. Even though I was paying this company to help me develop the cufflinks, I would show up on a filming day to find out that they had to cancel, or forgot to do things we agreed on. I think they had become so comfortable with me being around the factory and being so friendly, that they forgot I was a client. I eventually had to have a serious conversation with them to set expectations. Everything worked out after that. I learned not to be afraid to speak up when things aren’t going the way you want them to, especially if it’s your project because at the end of the day it’s you who will be the most upset later on.
I also shot everything on a Sony camera that cost about 300 dollars. But, it probably could've been shot on a cell phone. That just goes to show we should never say, "I can't make a video I don't have an expensive camera."
DR: Which blogs, websites, or apps to you check every day and why?
TM: I have an app on my phone called appygeek, which aggregates news and culture from lots of different websites, and makes it easy to see what’s going on in the world at a glance. And YouTube, which I talked about earlier.
DR: What designers or brands speak to you and why?
TM: I love Old Spice and Arby's. Brands with bold personalities really speak to me.
DR: Any final thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom you’d like to share with someone in the industry?
TM: I believe in only showing work you truly love. Take the brief and attack it. I start by thinking, "What can we do that's press-worthy?" or "What would the headlines be?"
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