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Carmen Soubriet is partner/creative director at Soubriet Byrne Associates, an international, boutique, full-service advertising, marketing and design firm, with clients in travel, financial, arts and non-profit. She met Philip Byrne, her business partner, while working on the same creative team at a financial marketing firm where they were both art directors. While there they realized that, in addition to having a very symbiotic design approach, they shared the same set of personal and professional values and eventually decided to start their own company. With a very clear vision about what they would never do again, they created a list that became the backbone of their company. Their approach is a straightforward one: They know their clients understand their product better than anyone, but they bring to the partnership an "outside" perspective, a set of well-honed creative tools and a great team of professionals.

01.25.11

Observation And An Open Mind

If you have a degree in what field is it? Growing up in Barcelona, I never knew that graphic design was actually a profession. Everyone around me had plans to become doctors, lawyers, engineers or nurses. I had always enjoyed art, but thought that the only two outlets were to be a fine artist (and I’m horrible at drawing) or an art historian/critic. I opted for the latter and enrolled in the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona. When I came to the U.S. I happened upon a graphic design class and it changed my future; I eventually got a degree in commercial art at Johnson County Community College in Kansas City.

If you could choose one person to work with (outside your own agency), who would it be? I wish I had the chance to collaborate more often with photographers. I miss the days of walking into a photographer’s studio with the basics of an idea and coming out with an incredible image made possible by the creative collaboration on the set. Ever since the advent of stock photography and Photoshop, those occasions rarely present themselves.

Who was the client for your first advertising project? I wish I could remember. There were many quirky little projects at the beginning, but one that stands in my mind was designing a brand for plastic musical toys for Menudo (the boy band where Ricky Martin got his start). I remember wondering if I’d chosen the wrong profession. Our first client as Soubriet Byrne Associates was Austrian Airlines; we’re proud of our fourteen-year relationship and the great work and results that we have accomplished together.

If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? I’ve given up on becoming a prima ballerina, so I guess I would like to be an architect.

What do you consider to be the greatest headline of all time? “Where’s the beef?”

From where do your best ideas originate? I wish I knew, it would make work incredibly easy.

How do you overcome a creative block? By trying to stimulate myself visually: going to a museum, the ballet, walking around the city or looking at colors, shapes and textures while shopping for shoes and clothes.

If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? Champagne. And I would insist on doing very thorough research.

Do you have creative outlets other than advertising? I dance Tango, cook, read, travel and the moment the temperature rises above 70-degrees, the beach becomes my sanctuary.

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? In order to be a good professional I first have to be a well-rounded individual, so I try to live life as fully as I can. I love to travel and observe and let my mind be open to all kinds of possibilities.

What product/gadget can you not live without? A glass of Classic Coke as soon as I wake up in the morning. And my iPhone.

What’s your favorite quote? “God creates, I do not create. I assemble and I steal from everywhere to do it—from what I see, from what the dancers can do, from what others do.” —George Balanchine

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Good clients will always inspire you and allow you to create great work. Learn to recognize them early on, and don’t waste any energy trying to change a bad client.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? There will always be the chance of things going wrong; what will differentiate you is how quickly you react and your ability to fix things.