Meet The Drum’s US 50 under 30 honorees from the West

It’s easy to understand why Madison Avenue comes to mind when people think of advertising – after all, New York City is the birthplace of some of the most iconic campaigns of the past century. But the truth of the matter is that creative ideas, innovations and campaigns are being hatched all across the country every day, which is why The Drum will be spending this week spotlighting talented women from all over the US who are putting themselves - and their cities - on the map via their creativity, achievements and dedication to an industry that is changing at a fast clip.

This week The Drum will reveal its inaugural 50 under 30 in the US, beginning by featuring our 10 honorees from the western part of the country. Each was chosen with the help of a judging panel that included MullenLowe Los Angeles executive creative director Margaret Keene, Colle McVoy executive creative director Laura Fegley, Arnold Worldwide chief creative officer Icaro Doria and Barker EVP-creative director Sandi Harari.

After receiving nominations from readers, the judges helped choose the final 50, who will continue to be revealed throughout this week. They will also be featured in the October issue of The Drum's magazine.

Below, our finalists from the West discuss career achievements, advice they’d give to those just starting out in advertising and favorite things about living and working in their respective cities.

Find out more below – and check back tomorrow (August 15) to read about our honorees from the Northeast.

Danielle Delph, art director at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Oregon

Why do you like living and working in Portland?

Portland is kind of like a Peter Pan city; it’s never quite grown up – and I mean that in a good way. People are always looking to collaborate, so you lose the dog-eat-dog vibe where everyone is out for themselves. It also never fails to have something wonderful going on, like the International Cat Show or the Portland Miniature Show. The beer’s not bad, either.

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

A few years back I did a project called If I Had Known My Mother Back Then where I Photoshopped myself into my mom’s old photos to see if we would have looked like friends. The response to the photos came from all over the world in a way I would have never expected, from daughters whose mothers had passed and had found comfort from the images to mothers expressing a similar connection to their own daughters. It was really special.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Read Calvin and Hobbes.

Angelique Hering, designer at BarrettSF in San Francisco, California

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ve had the privilege of living in three different continents and getting paid for doing what I love – so I’d say that’s definitely my favourite achievement!

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

I’m lucky enough to have friends that inspire me constantly. Here, back home in Australia and around Europe, they’re initiating their own projects, starting their own studios, and being pro-active about their challenges. And I love witnessing that.

I’ve also just past my 1-year anno in SF, and it’s been really fun getting to learn this city and see what kind of work is valued here. When everything is brand new, it’s all inspiring, really. I’m spoilt for it.

What brand means the most to you?

When I graduated uni it was around the time the City of Melbourne launched its new brand. It was the first shining example in my mind of how a brand should work, be dynamic and be able to move, so I’d say that project was a big influence on me. I’d love to brand a city one day!

Also, massive, MASSIVE props to whoever rebranded Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account this year.

Tahirah Edwards-Byfield, senior copywriter at AKQA in Portland, Oregon

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

On a daily basis, I’m motivated and inspired by people driven to make change in our industry – those who push to make work that is brilliant, fun, empathetic and challenges the status quo. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by those people, both in my office and beyond. For example, I’m on an international Whatsapp group with 16 bad-ass women in the industry, and every day I wake up to messages from them, about their daily triumphs and challenges – I literally use those messages as fuel.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Find your purpose. There's a lot of great, important work that you will do in this industry, but there will also be late nights, briefs you're not in love with and other challenges along the way. Discover what you're passionate about and keep sight of it. It'll help you make great work, move you through the tougher bits, and keep you having fun along the way.

What brand means the most to you?

I have a much deeper affinity to people than brands, so I don't have a favorite brand (unless Beyoncé counts as a brand!).

Hayley Laban, senior graphic designer at Warehouse Twenty One in Cheyenne, Wyoming

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

This is a hard question! I've had so many shaping moments as a designer, but I think the one's that I am most proud of are the one's that I share with my team at Warehouse Twenty One. One of those projects was for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. We had the task of creating advertising that helped them recruit Correctional Officers. Our challenge was to increase the number of applicants for this more intense, very unglamorous job. To do this, we took a very raw, and honest approach, interviewing CO's who have been doing this for years, and plan to do it until they retire. With a photo and video shoot to fuel our print and digital advertising, we ended up creating something that captured the emotions of the real people who help keep our communities and inmates safe. To see a client tear up at a video unveil, or when they received a book of their photography, blew me away. But really all we did was reflect to them who they already are, and that was what made this a career defining moment.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Hustle. My parents taught me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, but that I had to work hard to get it. Sometimes I think that last sentiment is missing in our mindset. I've worked extremely hard to get to where I'm at by doing the extra work that no one else wanted to do, by taking internships even after college (three of them by the way), by stepping up to help in new ways that were foreign to me, by practicing new styles and ideas in my spare time.

Why do you like living and working in Cheyenne?

I love Cheyenne. I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but Cheyenne has become my new home. There's a life here that you can just feel, that's different than any other place I've lived. The people are kind and patient, and while we do have real cowboys, there's a lot more to Cheyenne and Wyoming. Cheyenne was founded on the building of the railroad, which is still a booming industry. Even today, maybe even while you're reading this, a train will go by our offices, interrupting any conversations or conference calls we're having to blow it's horn and chug by our doors. I think it's awesome, and we always make a joke of it.

Elyse Delaney, junior copywriter at Spawn Ideas in Anchorage, Alaska

What brand means the most to you?

I think the Apple brand will always be dear to my heart. And not because of my killer iPhone 7, but because Apple’s ad is the first ad that invoked a sense of responsibility in me to go out and do great work. In college, when I had just switched to advertising as my major, I was a little unsure what in the world I was doing, as most college students secretly are. During one of my first ad classes, my professor played Apple’s Here’s To the Crazy Ones. I felt charged. The ad made me feel something deep inside, and I knew then “I want to do that!”

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

I would say being selected for the Drum’s 50 under 30 award is a pretty big and humbling achievement. I think a lot of younger creatives feel that they need to hide their age in fear of someone assuming they lack experience. I’m definitely guilty of doing this, and sometimes feeling like I have to play catch-up with some of my amazingly talented colleagues who have been in the industry longer than I’ve been alive. (Not a dig guys. Not a dig.) It’s really liberating to take a step back and say, “you know what? It’s okay to have fresh skin in the game,” as long as you have that hunger and drive to take new challenges, can take constructive criticism and keep pushing yourself.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

It’s not hard to find inspiration here at Spawn Ideas. We’re conveniently nestled in between the Pacific Ocean and the Chugach Mountains. In addition to that, I’m surrounded by an amazing team of colleagues who raise the bar inside and out of the workplace. While all supportive of each other, we have a little bit of a competitive nature here, and when we’re not challenging each other with who can come up with the most creative concept, we’re out on the mountains seeing who has the grit to make it through a 12-mile hike. Working with such a group of talented and passionate individuals with a never settle attitude inspires me to delve deeper and explore what I’m capable of.

Kelly Adelman, vice president and creative director at Trailer Park in Los Angeles, California

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Creativity is subjective. Never be afraid to offer your opinion or suggestion. You never know what will resonate in a room. No voice is ever too small when it comes to creative thought.

What brand means the most to you?

There are so many brands that mean something to me in different ways. If I had to choose one, I would have to say Disney because they curated an entire brand around princesses. It is really hard to compete with princesses.

Why do you like living and working in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is a haven for creativity across many platforms. The entertainment industry has a heavy influence in this city and is constantly accommodating and embracing evolving creative. There is always something new to be inspired by. What could be better than a city that celebrates your passion and is home to your family.

Maria Snell, senior copywriter at CP+B in Boulder, Colorado

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to never take my advice. Or anyone’s for that matter. I mean, I don’t know you. So, ask for advice. Listen to it if it helps, but if it’s not right for you, leave it behind. There’s not one right way or clear career path in advertising. You have to decide for yourself what you want to achieve. But also, work hard. Harder than you think you should have to. But hey, take that advice. Or don’t.

What brand means the most to you?

I’ve been lucky enough to get to work on Domino’s for three years. Yep, three years of pizza-filled lunch meetings. And it’s definitely the brand that means the most to me (not just because of the free lunch). It’s helped shape my career. And working on Domino’s has meant that I’ve been constantly surrounded by bad ass creatives, wicked smart strategists, a collaborative content team and awesome UX tech peeps. It is inspiring to see so many different brains work together. And that includes those working at Domino’s. They’re the kind of client who works as a partner. We bring them crazy ideas, and they say, “Ok, how do we make this happen?” and then we work together to figure out a way.

Why do you like living and working in Boulder?

Because I live in Boulder, I like that I’m never out of breath at sea level. It tricks my friends from lower elevations into thinking I’m really in shape. I also love the no hassle adventuring possibilities in Boulder. Living here means easy access to backpacking routes, climbing gyms, running trails and whatever other outdoorsy phase I might be going through. But on a Saturday morning, I can also walk along the creek leading to the farmer’s market, sample ALL the samples, listen to some live music and enjoy some seriously tasty breakfast paella. Advertising is pretty fast paced so I appreciate the opportunity to slow things down in Boulder.

Laura Petruccelli, associate creative director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, California

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

I really enjoyed attending the 3% Conference last year in New York City. I was lucky enough to be nominated among the top-10 female creative leaders. My creepy headshot got stuck on the screen, though, which was slightly alarming. But besides that, it was so inspiring to be surrounded by other women making things happen in this industry. It’s a really exciting time for all of us.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

Whenever I see a piece of work that redefines what advertising is. I like when people question if a campaign is art or an app or an installation. I like that our industry is forever changing, and I want to make sure I’m part of that.

What brand means the most to you?

Nike. They have managed to insert themselves into culture time and time again. They’re so far beyond being running shoes. They’re above and beyond their own category!

Kathryn Guess, senior copywriter at Wunderman in Seattle, Washington

Why do you like living and working in Seattle?

Seattle never lost its sense of frontier. We're surrounded by such breathtaking wilderness, that sense of frontier has seeped into the culture. Doing business here is all about striking out into new territories and overcoming old challenges with original solutions. It keeps you fresh, humble, and innovative.

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

The best achievements are the ones you keep building on. The greatest triumph of my career is mentoring junior creatives. Within this industry, there's a bit of smug dismissal when it comes to junior creatives – I reject that mindset entirely. When you're first starting out, it's important to have someone who invests in your mind, your growth, and your wellbeing. I know I've done my job when I can look at one of my mentees and proudly say, "They're going to be better than I am."

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

I'm a child of science fiction and fantasy, so I often return to those roots. Within those stories we see mankind at its best: that our potential is limitless, even against staggering odds. I find that inspiration can almost always be found under a dragon's wing or tucked inside a nebula.

Julia Sourikoff, executive producer-VR at Tool of North America in Los Angeles, California

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

Being invited to MIT to talk to students about new formats for storytelling in VR.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

My colleague Sarah who adopts geriatric pugs, my girlfriends that are making amazing work in the VR/AR space, my mom and my brother.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Approach each day like you’re a science fiction writer. Imagination and the ability to envision the future are invaluable skills.

Coverage of the US 50 under 30 list will also be available in print in the October issue of The Drum.

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Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a reporter at The Drum covering creativity and advertising. Based in Philadelphia, she primarily covers independent agencies and B2B marketing. She also oversees The Drum’s “Independent Influence,” a weekly series that spotlights the work, perspectives and inspirations behind independent agencies. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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