Originally from Montreal, Josh Fehr is creative director at Tribal DDB Vancouver. He began his career in interactive after graduating from Dawson College's graphic design program in 1991—back when it was called multimedia and the Internet didn't yet "exist." Josh eventually found his way to San Francisco, where he lived for seven years while working in the digital space for a purely interactive shop, Arc Worldwide, and advertising powerhouse, Goodby Silverstein & Partners. After the birth of his first daughter, he decided it was time to head home to Canada; he became creative director at Blast Radius in Vancouver and in 2008 joined Tribal Vancouver. Josh's work has been recognized by Communication Arts, The FWA, The Webby Awards and Applied Arts. Among other things he loves motorbikes (he currently rides a 1994 Ducati 900 SS) and making quirky videos.
Looming, Unfinished Problems
If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a diploma in graphic design from Dawson College in Montreal.
What’s the best site you’ve seen lately? What's so great about it? Tough one. I like the stuff the National Film Board of Canada is doing; I love that they’re exploring digital ways of evolving storytelling.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? Something that combines the smell of wood and fresh cut grass.
Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? Design. They both require great creativity to be successful but it’s not just what something can do, but how it does it that gives it its meaning and relevance. When done well, design can take technology beyond utility or even its original intention and change how people do things as well as how they feel about doing them.
From where do your best ideas originate? I think my best ideas come when I have a great insight to work against and I have someone to jam with. I don’t like working in isolation. I also love having lots of reference material and I find that often the best material comes from random stuff I’ve stumbled across, been inspired by and somehow managed to store in the back of my brain.
How do you overcome a creative block? It’s easy to say “walk away and take a break from it,” but that’s not always easy to do and sometimes deadlines don’t allow it. That being said I think having a life that’s not just about work helps a lot. It creates a rhythm where you occasionally check out because something like your children’s bedtime story forces you turn things off for a bit. But, an unfinished problem is always there looming in the background and until it’s cracked I’ll just keep hammering away at it.
In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project? Excited.
What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? eBay.
Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? I used to take a lot of video of anything I found beautiful, things like jellyfish or ice forming on the tip of a plane's propeller; now it’s more photos and they’re mostly of my kids.
What music are you listening to right now? Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane over The Sea.
What product/gadget can you not live without? You can take everything except my motorbike.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve bought online? My wife does all the buying :). She bought the leg lamp from A Christmas Story as a gift for her brother; I don’t think it made it one night before suffering the same fate as it did in the movie.
What’s your favorite quote? Not the most profound lesson or insight to pull from the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but there’s a line something along the lines of, “you can’t make anything of quality if you don’t care.” It’s such an obvious statement but I love the importance it places on needing to care about the things you do; it’s easy to walk through life cynical and not trying too hard at anything, but if you care then you must put in the effort to make that thing you care about all that it can be.
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Know that if you stick it out you will make it... but, approach your career as if you’re entitled to nothing and must earn everything.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? Everything happens for a reason and the path is a winding one.