I work full time on a number of ventures and also go to school full time. As absurd as that sounds; I'm currently enrolled in a full course load at Queen's University and also regularly do photo/video shoots, editing, writing, design, and promotion work for up to 10 companies at a time (at pretty much all times). I reached a point in my career not too far back when I thought I wouldn't continue with the school since things were starting to go well. However, after a long discussion with my parents and much justifying on my end, I decided that I would have my cake and eat it too. I would continue working on all my professional endeavours while completing a course load for the 1-2 or so years I have left of school. I figured as tiring as this would be, when I accomplish it, it will be super rewarding. Plus if things continue going well career-wise, I'll be at a great place by the time I get out of school and ready to take on the world. I recognise the fact that I'm very young. I'm only 20. Even though I have an absurd amount of experience for someone my age, I still want to take what I can out of the university experience. Even if that's a few glances of the hedonistic displays on the streets out my window while writing, or going to the odd party every once in a while. I enjoy doing it all. This is pretty indicative of who I am as a person. Very black and white, hyper-logical. If I decide I'm doing something, I do It full out - and I like to apply this to as many parts of my life as possible.
David, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Creative Director?
I have a few big creative pursuits that I want to get off the ground within the next five years. I have a clothing line I'm building (Art Hoe) in place of Merch, I have a video art piece that I plan on getting produced, and I hope to direct a lot more Music Videos and commercials in the next few years. I also recently started working on a TV show which I would love to actualise at some point in the next 5 or so years. While I love working in short form media, I ultimately would like to make a switch to adding traditional long-form media (mainly TV and movies) into what I direct. I'd like to move to LA when I'm around 25 so ideally this transition would happen in and around then. However, I will always hopefully be involved in music videos and commercials; I think they are the most creative means for video artists to produce their work within a commercial context. This is a big part of why I started getting into this line of work. I could create art films and work of the like, but without a large audience, I would be shouting into a void of nothing. Music videos, commercials, fashion, all these areas give me the springboard to integrate my creativity and artistry, and I hope to continue along this vertical in my creative direction work.
Who is your inspiration in life David? How do you keep inspired?
I admire quite a few people. I would love to pattern myself after Andy Warhol and Truman Capote. Both were gay artists who created a volume of great work and also became celebrities who were celebrated not only for their work but their personalities. I would very much like to accomplish something of the sorts and look to make this no secret. I keep inspired by constantly thriving to one up myself. I love looking to the next project and now being in some demand makes this process quite easy. I'm always plotting something of my own as well, and I think the combination of being involved in so many projects while constantly creating my work keeps me inspired and fueled creatively. I also love to seek inspiration from the past. Books, movies, documentaries, music, art; I consume it all liberally whenever I can.
We all make mistakes David; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about time being a Creative Director; you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
I don't know if I would take any of my actions back. However, I've been known to be rather unforgiving when it comes to discrepancies on the part of the talent. If a model doesn't show up or the show's up late, or a crew member isn't helpful, I feel as if my third eye is always watching. I always remember those kinds of things and am quite relentless about it. I've ignored people and not responded and things of the like. I don't feel great about doing that, but within the scope of professional work, it's justified (at least I think).
David, when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Creative Director, how do you go about prioritising your clients’ needs?
Being someone who often has a number of clients at the same time, I think a big part of handing everything is intense time management. I make sure to get all deadlines and expectations upfront, ideally in writing. Also, I'm quite blunt about contracts and payment, and since I only really do pay work these days, if I do a top shoot it will rarely get priority when I have a lot of paid work to get to. I respect my clients and their timelines and get work in promptly and as expected. I'm also quite flexible and believe that the customer is always right. I will always offer my creative input but will ultimately respect their choices.
Please tell us, David, about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities as a Creative Director?
I once had a client, whom I won't name, who put me in a bit of a pickle. I had directed and edited a music video for them as a favour - cast the whole thing and gotten free location and equipment. I submitted the video and woke up to an altered version posted on youtube that didn't credit anyone involved who worked on it for free. So this didn't fly with me. I called my lawyer and verified that the fact that I never signed rights away meant that it was still my creative property (the video that is). I called the artist, and he refused to take it down, as did his management. I contacted everyone in the video and got them all to report the video since they were in a version that they didn't consent to and after one thing leads to another got the video taken down. This was a situation where I had to be very tactful as I didn't want to harm my reputation as the product that was put online was not the product that I made, and it represented me in a poor light. The original video is actually up now sometime later, but this dispute is one of the experiences in my work that had helped me develop a tough skin.
David, please give us an example of a time when you were able to persuade someone to see things your way at work successfully.
When I was running my influencer agency, I had a meeting at vidcon with a very important client - the manager of a number of big livestream/musical.ly stars. This was a super viral and largely untapped market, and I wanted to have these kids on my roster to present to my clients for brand deals. I took their manager to coffee and realised that he was just a simple guy from small-town Florida and didn't even realise the goldmine he had on his hands. He had only been making them money through tours and within the 20 minutes we spoke I had outlined a whole strategy to get his kids brand deals that fit their demographics. He didn't realise how easy it was and that day I got his full roster of 16 top influencers on my roster as well. The great business moment for me while I was in that line of work. I can attribute a lot of my affection for the casting process to being an agent for that time.
David, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Creative Director. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you want to share with everyone. What is it and why?
This past summer I self-produced a gallery show of my photography. I did this all myself, and it was an absurd amount of work, but I think the fact that I put this amount of work in made its success mean so much more to me. The event was rated one of the top 10 art shows in Toronto that summer and praised by a number of magazines, papers, and blogs. I got interviewed and nearly sold out my large prints, selling multiples of a number of them. I also launched my "Art Hoe" Hats at this event which sold out twice and were picked up by Untitled & Co. This transformed into the brand that will be launching in the new year. This show also exposed me to a lot of producers I am currently working with on a number of projects that are going to be released this fall. It was also a great way for me to stake my claim within the Toronto creative space on my own. I liked the rebellious nature of not having to ask permission and simply exhibiting my work and letting people know. All together an awesome experience.
David, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
I think getting to be creative with my work at the venture capital fund I was working at is what brought me back to doing creative work. The fact that I was excelling at things like design, editing, video production, ideation, marketing. I realised that all of these were skills in and of themselves and the more I worked on them, the better I got at them. This is what helped me make the most of both my time at the VC and my time working as an agent at CTM. There were always a ton of opportunities for me to design social media posts, and write copy, and create websites. I allowed myself to use these to fuel my drive to work hard within this very intrapreneurial setting.
What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Creative Director?
Never stop learning. The more diverse your experience, the more you have to draw on at the moment. You will have to provide informed answers to people at every stage and in every part of the creative process. Do yourself the favour of having the base knowledge to be able to speak fluently to everyone from the makeup artist, to the web designer, to the set designer. The more specific prior experience you have in each respective department can only help you in your work as a creative director and allow you to be more personable with the people on your team.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
Yes! Designers, Musicians, Producers - hit me up! I'm currently looking for more conceptual Music Video + Commercial directing gigs, photo shoots, creative direction gigs mainly for fashion Also if you need help with a magazine, film, launching video in your organisation, or want a fresh video take I'd also be interested in talking! Ultimately very open to new and love new media!
Photographer: David Cash