I was extremely excited to chat with Ian Spalter, our first profile, today for Peeps of the Web. He is currently the Creative Director of the Mobile and Emerging Platforms Group at R/GA an Interpublic Group agency. The agency recently expanded its emerging media practice to focus on the creation of mobile applications that tap into social media. While Ian is returning to R/GA he had also previously worked for Community Connect. We Im’ed for about half an hour today and he was able to share more about what he does, how he got in the game, and a little about who he is. Peep the transcript:
(11:58:46) BW 2.0: So how did you get started?
(11:59:23) Ian: Well I guess professionally it goes back to 1996, when I went to work for a company called New York Online, founded by Omar Wasow
(11:59:32) Ian: NYO was a pre-web BBS system
(12:00:05) Ian: Omar founded it in ’93
(12:00:40) Ian: by 96, the internet/web was moving – so I came on to do design work for NYO’s web clients
(12:01:35) Ian: I was still in school at the time, so I worked for Omar during the summers, winter breaks, etc. until graduation – worked f/t for about one year out of school
(12:02:15) Ian: after that Omar decided to join Community Connect, and brought a few members of the old NYO over with him, including me
(12:02:57) BW 2.0: Did you originally start out as a designer or is your background more so in business?
(12:03:11) Ian: design, some scripting + html
(12:03:36) BW 2.0: Very cool
(12:04:28) BW 2.0: As a Creative Director what do you do on a day-to-day basis, other than the obvious ?
(12:05:29) BW 2.0: Many people only see the surface of what Creative Directors do, and some don’t really see the difference between a CD’s role in different mediums.
(12:07:08) Ian: well my role at R/GA is a bit different in that my background and strengths are in the product development realm
(12:07:33) Ian: so I tend not to work out ‘campaigns’ and more tools/applications
(12:09:05) Ian: on a day-to-day that means collaborating with visual designers, interaction designers and developers – a lot of zooming out and seeing the macro view on a project, then zooming back in to pixels etc.
(12:09:14) Ian: looking for opportunities to push our thinking
(12:10:11) BW 2.0: Interesting, I am noticing designers and CD’s being more involved in product development on the web lately, do you think this is a trend since many companies are trying so hard to be design-centric or do you feel like their role in that realm is warranted?
(12:10:44) Ian: well I guess it depends on the type of company
(12:11:05) Ian: for agencies, etc – CDs are always involved
(12:11:23) BW 2.0: right
(12:11:44) Ian: for other businesses such as media companies, it may be a new thing in some ways – because these companies are just learning to do product development
(12:12:02) Ian: so they are going through a transition period, trying to figure out roles and process
(12:14:00) BW 2.0: You were previously at BlackPlanet.com however what has been your experience with diversity in either the design or interactive industries as a whole? If you have experienced a lack of diversity how do you think this can be changed or improved?
(12:18:16) Ian: I think I’ve had some amazing experiences working in design, and working in interactive, however these industries are not what I would call ‘racially diverse’. But often, they are industries where your ideas, thought processes and creativity matters more than racial or ethnic background.
(12:19:29) Ian: The goal is always to be undeniable at what you do. In some contexts, the bar is raised a bit higher based on characteristics that have nothing to do with your intellect, talent or expertise– but I’ve found this to be true everywhere in life.
(12:19:55) BW 2.0: great outlook!
(12:20:32) Ian: The thing is, I would not be where I am if ppl didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt at various junctures in my career.
(12:21:09) BW 2.0: What advice would you give to our readers who want to transition into a design role or product development role?
(12:21:58) Ian: I think if you are new to the industry then you must obsess about it
(12:22:25) Ian: Stay hungry to learn, and hone your skills
(12:23:21) BW 2.0: What about for individuals who are maybe…mid-level?
(12:24:02) Ian: Well I think then you need to test yourself, find the largest stage possible to display your skills, and don’t allow yourself to half step
(12:24:14) Ian: find places where you can be surrounded by people who will push you
(12:24:19) Ian: and kick your ass
(12:24:46) BW 2.0: Ok, now for some more fun questions
(12:24:54) Ian: haha uh-oh
(12:25:00) BW 2.0: Fave color?
(12:25:10) Ian: blue?
(12:25:22) Ian: or maybe like #666666
(12:25:38) BW 2.0: LOL, omg I am using #666666 right now
(12:25:54) Ian: see – always a good place to start
(12:25:59) BW 2.0: Fave desgin- trend/style?
(12:26:42) Ian: hmm “simplicity”
(12:27:00) BW 2.0: Who are you listening to right now (music)?
(12:27:26) Ian: ( checking ipod )
(12:29:40) Ian: Tv on the Radio, The Roots (75 Bars!), Santogold, Celebration, MF Doom, Ghostface, Diplo mixes, MOP
(12:29:51) BW 2.0: 3g iPhone or Gen 1 iPhone?
(12:30:31) Ian: neither. I got an iPod Touch.. nice and slim – but given the app store I am tempted to go 3G
(12:30:46) BW 2.0: LOL
(12:30:48) BW 2.0: last one…
(12:30:56) BW 2.0: Favorite website?
(12:31:24) Ian: overall? Come on – I have a couple hundred feeds in google reader right now
(12:31:33) Ian: hmm
(12:31:33) BW 2.0: ROFL
(12:31:38) BW 2.0: ok…
(12:31:41) BW 2.0: most used?
(12:32:51) Ian: gmail, google reader, facebook. – combined they are often like an information refrigerator.. I open the door again and again looking for something good.
(12:33:12) BW 2.0: Thank you so much for participating!Category: Advertising, Design, Diversity, Peeps of the Web, web 2.0 | Tags: AdWeek, diversity in design, diversity in internet, diversity in new media, diversity online, Ian Spalter, Peeps of the Web, R/GA