[photo credit: Tiffany Findley]
Chris Robb is partner and chief creative officer Push. With more than 25 years of creative direction and branding experience for clients like Starbucks, United Airlines, Saturn and HP, Chris returned to his hometown of Orlando in 2003 to join Push and oversee all of its creative work. He's helped build Push into one of the country's most diverse and innovative brand, advertising and digital agencies. His awards include Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions at Cannes, CA Advertising Annual, The One Show, The Art Directors Club, Clios, MPA Kelly Awards and Gold Effies and his United Airlines campaign was named best campaign at the AICP show and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Nothing Comes Easy
If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BA in graphic design from the University of Central Florida.
If you could choose one person to work with (outside your own agency), who would it be? I’m really interested in modern day multimedia artists like Mike Mills. He's working in art, graphic art, film, writing and his movie Beginners is amazing. I like the model he’s putting out there. Why limit yourself? I’m also a fan of what Andy Spade is doing with Partners and Spade. It’s an interesting mix of branding studio, storefront and exhibition space and he’s quietly leading and showing an inspiring approach to the business. It’s not about being big. It’s about finding ways to make interesting work.
Who was the client for your first advertising project? My first real ad job was at Macy’s in-house advertising department in New York. It was a great start. Like boot camp for a young art director.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? I might just rearrange my titles a bit from creative director/designer/painter to painter/designer/creative director. And maybe add filmmaker into the mix. I can’t really see myself doing much else... except maybe surfing.
What do you consider to be the greatest headline of all time? I’m a pretty big fan of the recent Patagonia ad with the headline “Don't buy this jacket” and what it’s advertising—Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative. I wish more corporations were as mindful about their impact on the environment.
From where do your best ideas originate? Good ideas are the product of great preparation and hard work. Nothing comes easy, you have to put the time in. Once I spend some time with a problem and it’s soaked into my subconscious, things start to bubble up to the surface.
How do you overcome a creative block? I usually have lots of things going at once so sometimes you just have to walk away from it. Move on to something else. Also there’s nothing like going for a surf to clear all the junk out of your head. Then again that works for all parts of life.
If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? The Museum of Modern Art.
Do you have creative outlets other than advertising? I’m a painter. And a graphic artist.
What’s your approach to balancing work and life? Life is all about balance. It’s all about the decisions you make along the way. I got off the big agency wagon when my kids were entering middle school and high school so I would be home more during those years. I’m really glad I did. I’ve got a great close relationship with my wife Cheryl, our son Christopher and our daughter Cameron. And next April Cheryl and I will have been married 25 years. In the end that’s what’s important.
What product/gadget can you not live without? Like many people I would say it’s my Apple MacBook Pro. It really hit me hard when Steve Jobs died (another great multimedia artist by the way). His products changed my life. Getting on a computer changed my whole career.
What’s your favorite quote? “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” —Chuck Close
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Always be the person who worked the hardest and is the most fun to work with. Never do anything for the money. Surround yourself with great talent. Keep things interesting. Try new things. If you don’t like something do something else.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? It’s OK to fail. To bomb. To make work that nobody likes. Just have confidence. Chances are you’ll eventually make something great.