Jon Jackson: “Differences drive the process forward”
Brooklyn, March 9, 2015
Jon Jackson speaks with such enthusiasm and energy that you don’t have time to blink. Moving his hands with excitement, he explains how much he enjoys new experiences: he is convinced that good ideas emerge from cultural differences and diverse points of view, which explains his passion for travelling and exploring new ways of living.
With his roots in traditional design, Jon never imagined he would be designing web pages. Today, he is the Global Creative Director at leading digital agency Huge. When asked where he’ll be in 10 years, he imagines himself as a father and expresses the hope that his design work will be even better than it is today. We’ll see what happens; life seems to bring good surprises to this genius of digital design.
How does creativity help you solve your daily personal problems?
In my personal life being a creative director, can create more problems than it solves. I can over think even the simplest solution, and dig myself into a bigger hole. Always thinking about how to improve is great at work but sometimes your wife does not want constructive criticism about how the books should be arranged on the coffee table.
When did you decide that you wanted to get involved in this field and why?
From middle school I new I wanted to do something creative but did not really know what. Having more skills with computers than a paintbrush, I ended up studying graphic design in college but I never thought about web design. I didn’t even have an email address at the time! I was offered an opportunity to work at Disney Online designing digital products right out of school. Slightly apprehensively, because of my lack of experience, I took the job. I learned so much in the first six months I wondered if I should have been paying them, but ended up having some success there working on sites for Toy Story 2 and creating the action sports brand EXPN.
What does the word creativity means to you?
In my opinion, creativity is simply finding different solutions to similar problems. An awareness that differentiated thinking allows you to stand out in a crowd. As seen on the game show the Family Feud, if you ask 100 people the same question, you will receive a majority of similar responses. The interesting answers are not the ones that everyone came up with it is the ones that the people who think differently came up with. That’s creativity to me. Good concepts are achieved when you combine the different opinions, ideas and backgrounds that will give you those few exceptional answers. That’s why I’m convinced that if you hire people from diverse backgrounds, you will get differentiated ideas.
What’s the most challenging aspect of leading a team? What do you do in order to unite different ideas and give space to each member’s creativity?
The most challenging thing is getting teams to agree on and get excited about a shared vision. Everyone starts the project with his or her own ideas of what the final product should be, and we need to get all those ideas out and let the best one win. To create the best products I encourage people to strongly challenge ideas, a good idea will hold up against a lot of scrutiny. Good ideas do not come easy and if you do not seriously push them they will be average. At the end of the day, I want my team to go home feeling excited about what it is they are building and that they are making a difference for our clients and more importantly the people that use their products.
I saw great pictures of your trip to Africa. Does traveling help you to find new ideas?
Of course! There’s nothing better than having new experiences. Traveling and meeting people who think differently always makes my work better. We think of so many things as the way things are, but when you have the opportunity to go someplace new, you quickly understand that there are countless ways of doing things. And there is no “right” way, but rather another way. Bringing this thinking to work is great because it allows me to really push on what is possible in design. And even more simply Botswana is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, experiencing all the colors of the savannah is something I will never forget.
Digital communication is constantly changing. I would like you to take a risk, and predict which important changes will take place in the near future.
The future of digital to me is all about speed. The speed of the processors and the speed of bandwidth will create a richer more connected experience. This will allow our mobile devices to do more with a smaller physical footprint. So hopefully as our devices get smaller and smarter they will be more integrated with our daily lives and be less of a distraction they way that our smart phones are now.
What project/client represented the hardest challenge for you? Why? What project made you feel fulfilled?
I’m incredibly proud of all the work that we have done in so many different disciplines it makes it hard to select just one project. But one project that has been really fulfilling is the recent work that we have done with Morgan Stanley. The reason it’s great is the same reason it has been a challenge the diversity. We just launched www.MorganStanley.com that has become the inspiration for all the marketing initiatives we have with them from print to pre-roll we are truly creating an integrated experience.
What advice do you often give to people who are starting to work in your same field?
This works for all fields but it is especially true for design. Don’t be limited by what someone asks you to do, take the smallest opportunity and see how far you can push it. Making things should not be limited by what someone asks you to make cause that might not even be the right question. Like with anything just doing the minimum leads to minimum results and limits creative thinking.
Thank you, Jon.
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