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15 Questions with Our Email Art Director Andrea “Dr. Dre” Campbell

Andrew Kordek

Tell us about your background and what made you decide to come to Trendline back in 2014?

I was lucky enough to be among the first wave of graphic designers who also knew front-end code, so straight out of college I had the opportunity to work both in some great agencies, as well as in-house at a few major retailers as they developed their first email programs. After 7 years in email, I moved into web apps and quickly found that wasn’t for me. Once I learned about Trendline, I knew immediately I wanted to come home to email. I loved the idea of an agency that focused purely on email. I was wooed by Trendline’s culture and by speaking with the leadership team. I love feeling like I’m a part of a unique group of folks who have a true passion and deep knowledge of such a specialty medium.

What is the hardest part of being an Art Director?

I’d say it’s probably doing all the parts an AD must do at any given time, at 100%. You’re not only doing art direction, you’re also doing design, copy, detective work, people management, and day-to-day administration, all while trying to be forward-looking and planning ahead. I’ve always known this is a role I wanted to be in, but it definitely requires a lot of juggling.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Every day starts with catching up on email and a stand-up with my team to make sure everyone’s in sync and has what they need. Often these evolve into mini-working sessions. The rest of the day, I spend a lot of time answering questions, reviewing work, concepting, and making sure those concepts and output align with the creative brief. It’s a lot of facilitating. There’s also always time spent in the Adobe suite hands-on as well; that’s a must for me.

What inspires you for good design?

I actually like to go to Pinterest, which is funny, because I hated it early on. With Pinterest you get a good mix of practical design (launched advertising) and design for design’s sake, and people I know and respect are often pinning things that I can peek into and get turned on to something new, or old. It’s a bottomless pit.

What programs do you love but think they need help in design?

I think I’m more prone to cherry pick bits and pieces of programs that I like, rather than to be amped about one or another as a whole. That said, one that I do enjoy receiving regularly is Tasting Table–I’m no foodie, but I adore their punny SLs and whimsical copy. Design wise, they’re improving, but still utilitarian. And don’t get me started on their logo. *ducks flying shoe from the Tasting Table logo designer*

What do you think a good email is?

A good email is one that communicates a message clearly and succinctly, with the support of all its parts (SL, visuals, copy, functionality). A good email is one that has a solid strategy behind it. A good email is one that performs well against its KPIs (or poorly, as long as you learn something valuable from it). The most clever and beautifully designed email does not necessarily make a good email if it doesn’t do what you need it to do. Sometimes an email can be ugly, but if it reaches your audience in the way you hoped it would, it’s a good email.

Have you ever made something, thought it sucked, but the client loved it?

Absolutely. I think anyone in any branch of design experiences that situation. There are always must-haves and limitations baked into any project, that you as a creative do not have control over. Those, along with situations like “design by committee,” can send all your best ideas and techniques sailing. At the end of the day, if the client is advised and recommended toward a direction they don’t choose, but is still happy with the work, you’ve done your job …you just don’t tell anyone you did that work.

Have you ever made something, thought it was awesome, but the client hated it?

All the time! This is, again, not an unfamiliar situation to any designer. Design (and really, marketing in general) is a few parts education, a few parts intuition, and a few parts mind control. A good designer can anticipate how the audience will perceive — and act on — what you’re delivering to them. Yet, you’re not going to get every single one right.  You may set a scene in a design of a beautiful kitchen, and a stakeholder may decide the wallpaper reminds them of their great grandma’s potholders she used when she made terrible stroganoff every Sunday. You never know. Design, and everything in it, is ultimately subjective.

What one thing you would love to be doing if money was no object?

Just one? Really?? Well, creating graphic novels would definitely be it. I have a few I’ve kicked around off and on for many years, but haven’t shared out yet. My dream would be to spend my days in my own studio, writing and drawing, and then traveling all over the world to comic cons to promote my work (see what I did there?).

Dog or cat?

Crazy Cat Lady all the way, but it’s no secret I love dogs too. Anything I can give a lion or teddy bear cut. Oh, and squirrels are boss. I’d be very into becoming a Crazy Squirrel Lady.

Beer or wine?

Currently, beer. I’m single-mindedly about IPAs—the hoppier the better. My absolute favorite is made by a local Austin company.

French food or a cheeseburger?

Indian cuisine for life! I’m a vegetarian so I don’t do burgers, and French food is usually either meaty or too bland to my palette. I like my food to burn.

What advice do you have for young designers?

Make sure you study the fundamentals. Type, type, and more type, grids, rhythm, hierarchy – it’s all really important.  Know that you’ll have good days and bad days, no matter how experienced you are. Be aware of the aesthetics of the moment, but don’t follow fads. Don’t be afraid to try things that seem crazy. It’s much easier to reign in an over-the-top design than to make something more of an underwhelming one.

Describe the best day ever.

Sleeping in with my cats, going for a run, and then hopping a plane to London to see a favorite band. Well, I guess that would take more than one day … so I suppose getting some good drawing time in, then getting outside to some fun spots with friends, and seeing a show locally.

Would you rather drink 10 32oz red bulls or 10 cups of Death Wish Coffee?

Whoever writes these questions is a sadist. They should really get checked out.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Kordek

Andrew Kordek is a Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive.

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