Stephen Niedzwiecki is the founder, owner and creative director of YARD, an advertising and design company based in New York City. Stephen has produced award-winning print and television advertising campaigns, cosmetic and fragrance packaging, graphics and brand identity programs, and music supervision for clients in fashion, retail, beauty, and entertainment.
Stephen's early creative work included advertising and design at Estée Lauder, packaging for Origins, and brand image advertising for Nautica. He worked at Gap as a creative director, providing both musical and visual direction to the team responsible for some of the brand's most memorable advertising campaigns in the late '90's. After consulting in London, Stephen returned to New York where he provided creative direction for clients ranging from Ralph Lauren to Virgin Records.
Respect Yourself Before Opportunity
Do you have a degree and in what field is it in? I have a BFA in Graphic Design from R.I.T.
If you could choose one person to work with (outside your own agency), who would it be? John Hegarty because of the amazing early work he did out of the BBH London office - especially for Levi's Europe.
Who was the client for your first advertising project? YARD's first advertising project was for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? A chef, a baker or a candlestick maker.
What do you consider to be the greatest headline of all time? I want my MTV!
From where do your best ideas originate? Great ideas are everywhere; you just have to pause long enough for them to find you.
How do you overcome a creative block? Brain-O unblocks clogged creative brains. But in realty, I try not to try. I try to breathe deep, long breaths and then listen to a great record.
If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? Triumph. Because no one has created an ad for the brand that has stood out and is memorable. It's also just an amazing product with a lot of heritage that should have greater with people today.
Do you have creative outlets other than advertising? Yes, my son who's almost 4 years old. He looks at the world as a blank slate and notices things that most don't take the time to see and enjoy. He is teaching me a lot about creativity.
What's your approach to balancing work and life? You just have to do it. You have to learn to focus your mind on both work and life. While at work, you think work. When you're at home, it's family time. When I'm at home, I make sure that I'm truly present for my family.
What product/gadget can you not live without? My iPhone is one gadget that I absolutely cannot live without.
What's your favorite quote? "Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck." —Dalai Lama
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Chase your creative heart—not the money. Your heart always wins.
What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? No matter what opportunity comes along, always respect yourself, your dreams and your ideas before accepting the challenge. The grass is not always greener.