Day in the Life: John Kaplan, Creative Director
Sep 21, 2016
Our open job description states that we’re looking for creative directors with a “passion for creative problem solving” as well as a “taste for a new brand of creative communication.”
If that describes anyone perfectly, it’s John Kaplan, creative director at Centerline.
“What I love most about my job is being able to inspire and lead our clients to think beyond,” said Kaplan. “To listen to a challenge, create a plan and then lead our creative teams to make it bigger and better than I even originally imagined is my favorite thing. I love watching others be successful.”
While the backgrounds of our creative directors vary, Kaplan has been working towards this position since his college days.
“I started my path towards being a creative director at Bowling Green State University, where they had a program called Visual Communication Technology (VCT). At the time, the program was very unique in that we studied communication challenges and how to solve them with video, animation, web, photography, design, communications and marketing. Most other programs at the time were creating specialists rather than generalists,” said Kaplan.
“The big idea with the VCT approach was that if you are approached with a communication challenge as a specialist, you’re likely going to think of your specialty as the right solution. But when you have a full toolbox of solutions, you can apply the right solution to each challenge. This is pretty common in schools now, but I was lucky enough to have that training early. It set me up for the way Creative Directors have to think to be successful.”
After college, Kaplan spent time working and building up his skill base before coming to Centerline.
“After college, I was the owner of a small post-production studio for seven years, and was also the co-founder of a tech startup in the entertainment industry. When I reached a point where I wanted to solve bigger challenges with bigger clients, Centerline was the perfect opportunity.”
Our creative directors work closely with clients from the very start of projects. In fact, the ability to deftly communicate complex and often subjective creative ideas to our clients is vital to the role.
“Communicating about creativity is hard. So much of it is abstract, and when you’re coming up with original concepts you can’t just show examples. Being able to communicate with clients, as well as internally with account teams and other creatives, is crucial to making sure everyone has the same vision and is speaking the same language,” explains Kaplan. “Being a good creative director means being able to hear everyone in their respective expertise, but also being able to make the hard decision to keep everyone working towards the same goal.”
With so many moving parts when it comes to projects, it’s important for the creative director to stay on top of everything.
“To me, what’s important for a potential creative director is the ability to lead a team and drive projects. Creative directors have to know when to stay high-level and when to jump into the trenches. They need to be able to communicate with clients, understand impact on budgets, and know how to lead others. You have to wear many hats.”
Want to learn more about our open creative director position? Check out the job description here, and tweet us any questions you may have! You can also reach out to Kaplan directly – he’s @johnrkaplan.