Simon Endres is creative director/partner of Red Antler, a branding and design consultancy that specializes in launching technology startups. In addition to his nearly fifteen-year history in advertising and branding he's also an accomplished sculptor and his love of ping pong inspired him to spearhead the development of a clothing line for ping pong players.
Simon has 14 years of experience in advertising and branding, including work for Target, Sony, Tommy Hilfiger, Citibank, Royal New Zealand Ballet and Amnesty International. Before Red Antler, he was a co-founder of Team ProAm following a two year stint as senior designer with Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners, New York. A New Zealand native, Simon lives in Red Hook, New York with his wife and two sons and plays a mean game of tennis.
If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BFA in sculpture from a great art school in Christchurch New Zealand.
Which designer or design studio (other than yours) do you most admire? There is so much good work out there. The web has made it very apparent that despite social and political unrest across the globe we human beings are very interesting, intelligent and freakish creatures. I love what Yves Behar is doing at FuseProject, incredibly smart innovative work that mixes a social consciousness with new materials, processes and thinking.
In the sphere of branding I think the people at Wolff Olins have been doing excellent work; it’s always fresh, insightful and at times polarizing. I think it’s a good sign when people feel uncomfortable about a new branding effort. It means that you’re creating a brand for the company’s future, one that they can grow into and that people can discover over time creating a deeper more genuine engagement.
What’s the strangest request you've received from a client? Make the logo bigger.
If you weren’t working as a designer what would you be doing? I’d be making art again for sure. When I was making art full time I’d spend a lot of time in the studio by myself but what I loved most was working with tradespeople and professionals from a wide spectrum of disciplines—welders, casters, plastic experts. They opened up the process and made it less about executional details and more about how to express a larger set of ideas.
What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign? Verizon is the first that comes to mind and is probably on the top of many lists; it’s an unavoidable eyesore if you live in New York.
I was also pretty disappointed by the United/Continental merged livery. I guess in their minds it was an easier transition for customers and was probably convenient internally but I think it was a golden opportunity to create a fresh voice that could compete with modern airlines like JetBlue, Delta and Virgin. Travelers are jaded by the old school model of air travel and yearn for something more human and just plain cool. Make us feel good after we’ve endured the security process please!
From where do your best ideas originate? I’m a firm believer in both Jack Donaghy’s “The Shower Principle” and Emily Heyward's “Desks, Where Creativity Goes to Die.” I also manufacture situations that let me play around, make mistakes and generally just DO something… anything. For me that’s when unique and unexpected relationships occur between ideas, images and objects that can take the work in a whole new and interesting direction. Sometimes you just have to put the hard yards in and force the idea to the surface.
How do you overcome a creative block? Code Blue: Breathe, don’t panic. Code Green: Turn it upside down. Code Yellow: Do something ugly. Code Tangerine: Look away from the work! I close my eyes and try to develop a vision for what I want to realize. Code Orange: Go back to language. At Red Antler everything we do is based around the foundation of a strong and resonant strategic idea. It’s a creative idea that addresses a true consumer insight. I go back and pull apart the language to find other ways to think about the challenge. Code Poppy: Go for a walk. Code Red: Go to bed.
What’s your dream project (not client, but project)? I created a long list of specific projects, but, really, my answer comes down to having an awesome team working without (apparent) ego towards making the project the best it can be and then shipping it out into the world and, if you can, to be there to help it take on a life of its own.
Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design? I’m always making art in some form or another. Either that or I’m playing bass, listening to music, getting my head down building with Lego and smack-talking with my oldest son Curtis.
What’s your approach to balancing work and life? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...
What product/gadget can you not live without? Pen and paper.
What's your favorite quote? “Me. We.” Muhammad Ali’s deceptively simple poem delivered to a class of Harvard seniors has always resonated with me. I also have a terrible memory and it’s short.
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Learn to draw very well. It’s a great way to quickly communicate to yourself and to others. Pull inspiration and knowledge from a wide variety of sources and influences. Learn to have fun while maintaining intensity. Don’t be an asshole.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? That I was going to have a career.