Author: Emily Hunt
Image courtesy of Emil Asmussen.
Emil Asmussen, Creative Director at Virtue Northern Europe, the creative agency by VICE, recently spoke to Webamp about leadership. Asmussen is both a Creative Director and writer working in both advertisement and entertainment. His work has been featured by CNN, BBC, Fox News, World Economic Forum, The Guardian, Wired, and Fast Company.
Asumussen did not start out with the intention of becoming a creative director. At university, he studied language and communications. He shares that he became particularly involved with political communications and thought he was going to be working somewhere such as City Hall. However, after a while he found he was bored and the suit and tie world simply was not for him
He knew some people working in creative jobs and thought, ‘It looks like they have the most fun job.’ Asmussen describes his eureka moment recalling,
“I had a moment when I was in the library writing my thesis when I looked to the wall and noticed an advertising book. I took it down and started flipping through it. I was particularly drawn to copywriting. I thought, ‘I guess I could be a writer.’ I had always done blogging and writing for magazines on the side, so I thought ‘let’s give it a go.’”
Soon after, he helped a friend by doing some writing for a Ford advertisement which ended up being nominated for various awards shows. Then, Asumussen naturally became a copywriter which shifted to a position as an associate creative director to his current position at Virtue as the head Creative Director in Northern Europe. He shares the importance of his foundation in studying language saying,
“Copywriting and Creative Direction are about simplicity and cutting everything away. So, the better understanding you have of language and grammar the easier it is to determine what is essential for communicating what you have to say.”
Image courtesy of Emil Asmussen.
Asmussen shares that in a COVID-19 world working internationally feels natural because everyone is always meeting via call anyways. Although he works with other offices in London, Berlin, Zurich, and Sweden it doesn’t feel any different than working with someone who is 20 minutes away. He emphasizes,
“I think a key thing is to remember is to keep the creative work fun and to find ways of keeping the process of creating something interesting for the people who are involved. Oftentimes, if the process of creating is not fun, then the chances are that it will not be a fun creative project for the viewers. A lot of my work now is figuring out how to keep the creative spark burning when I am not sitting in the same room as the people I am creating with.”
Asmussen shares his team has definitely been working on how to replicate the natural flow and exchange of energy that is so integral to creative collaboration over video calls. He states,
“The creative process is about both insecurities and confidence. When creating collaboratively it is important to have feedback from those you are working with from body language and other subtle cues. That is much harder to cultivate in a digital space. Questions such as, ‘Did this joke land?’ or ‘Was anyone else touched by this thought?’ are much harder to figure out when communicating digitally. These sorts of explicitly human interactions are very different now.”
Asmussen shares that letting go of formal meetings and having time to simply hang out on a call or take a socially distanced walk together can help a lot. Allowing people to have time to think creatively on their own and collaboratively before meeting formally about a project can help foster creativity.