Q&A with Pierre Lipton:
Tell me a little bit about yourself, who you are, and where you are from.
That depends on the minute. I could tell you I’m a father or a husband or a gamer or a creative or a writer or a New Yorker born and raised, but how could any one thing tell you who I really am? And how many of us really know, anyway? All I can say for sure is that I’m happy to be here.
How do you describe yourself as a creative and the kind of work you do?
I’ve always hoped to be a writer’s writer, at least in the world of advertising. I love the craft and rhythm of writing. Going from long to short. Finding memorable and true and punchy turns of phrase.
I’ve also really tried not to have a definable style. I believe that in advertising your style should meet the assignment, and if anyone can tell you’re the one who wrote it, you’ve failed.
That’s led me to seek out work beyond my specialization or discipline, and to attempt a lot of different kinds of work: print, radio, television, banners, digital activation, social, PR plays, experiential pieces, app builds, site redesigns, media innovations.
Everything is an opportunity.
As the Chief Creative Officer of 360i, what does your job entail?
More than can be listed, but it all falls into three categories: work, talent and business.
How do you manage other creatives?
I don’t like policing people, because I never liked being policed myself. In order for that to work, you have to surround yourself with people who find the work personally important. You need hustlers. And you owe it to them to weed out the people who are holding everyone back. It’s a hard part of the job, but a necessary one.
How did you figure out what you wanted to do creatively?
My uncle was in advertising, and regaled me with romantic tales of the business. And by romantic, I mean untrue. He was in Research but told me stories of how he spent the week thinking up The Kool Aid Man or redesigning the outfits for Snap, Crackle and Pop.
How did you get to where you are today? What has been your career path?
I always took jobs that frightened me a little. And I attacked each one, mostly because of a deep-seated paranoia that time was running out. I think this was a function of two things: growing up in NYC and getting into the business a little later than my peers (at age 27).
Has there been anyone who has helped steer you along on your professional path? Did you have a mentor?
I have tried to learn from each one of my bosses along the way, and paid close attention to what I thought they did well and not-so-well. I won’t share those lessons until I retire, as I’d offend too many people.
As for mentors, I’ve had many. Sal DeVito gave me my first break. Wayne Best encouraged me to be crazy. Ari Merkin made me interested in everything that was next. Gerry Graf was a walking lesson in the power of huge balls. David Lubars showed me that one person could master both creative and business in equal measures. Rei Inamoto demonstrated how much power there can be in a well-crafted and perfectly delivered presentation.
What is one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on and why?
Oh, man. Too Sophie’s Choice.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on making great work in every medium. There’s a huge amount of opportunity here, and we have a fantastic roster of clients. The only enemy is time.
Where are you most creative? When do the best ideas come to you?
On the subway. Or in a café. Or anywhere else where I’m surrounded by strangers. I have no idea why.
What is your creative process for conceptualizing and starting to work on a new project?
A lot of reading (briefs, research, background), a notebook and a pen.
How do you make great ideas happen?
The best ideas are the ones that surprise you. And so you have to put all the work in until that epiphany shows up. It’s not dissimilar to fishing. Get up early, get on the lake and row around until the fish hits. Then land that m*****f***er.
Where do you find inspiration?
My children. They attack each day without preconceptions and lose themselves completely in all the things they do.
Please describe how your creative brain works. Do you have any routines or rituals? Something that gets the creative juices flowing?
I need loud music playing. Very loud. Usually hip-hop.
Are you working on anything creative outside of your job at 360i? Other passions or interests?
I have been writing the most offensive and disgusting novel you could imagine for the past 12 years. It’s 700 pages, spans 400 years and contains approximately 900 d**k jokes.
How do you define success? What has helped you to become successful?
Coming up with work you’re proud of.
As for what’s helped any successes I’ve had, I guess the truth I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. Didn’t grow up with a ton, and always felt the need to prove something because of it.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received in general, or about how to be more creative?
To be present.
What advice would you give to someone in a creative field or someone interested in following in your path?
Work your ass off.
Don’t let anyone tell you no.
Admit your mistakes and always fix them.
Never stop hustling.
And keep your eyes open.
To see more from Pierre Lipton, go to https://twitter.com/pierrelipton