Do I need school to be...

a creative director? with Marc Suess

May 05, 2022 Alex Villacís Season 1 Episode 31
Do I need school to be...
a creative director? with Marc Suess
Show Notes Transcript

This week I have for you Marc Suss, business owner, painter, podcaster, creative director, musician and more. In his own words: “A storyteller using images, words and sounds.”
 Marc is based in one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, Hamburg (and I’m not saying that because I lived there for years) where he works as a creative director and owner of his own brand building and design studio. The dream of many design students today! He’ll tell us all about what is job entails and how he got there. Spoiler alert! It took being ready to hear no’s. 

On this interview we spoke about:

  • What is a brand?
  • What he does for his clients and customers? What is the key question they need to be able to answer?
  • His journey through education and why he got a Master’s Degree
  • His experience as a tech start-up
  • Choosing your craft and how to shape your life
  • How he combines all his passions into one experience and more! 

Want to learn more about Marc and his podcast? Here are some links:
Marc’s Personal Website
Marc’s studio, The Sweetspot Studio
Here is my episode on The Sweetspot Podcast
His German Podcast „Fugengold“

 Recommendations from this episode:
Max Frisch’s book ‘Fragenbogen’ (in German)
Max Frisch’s book ‘Fragenbogen’ (in English)
Stanley Tucci’s book ‘Taste, My Life Through Food’ (from Audible)

In an effort to make this podcast accessible, we make transcripts of every episode. You’ll find the transcripts on our website here

Special thank you to Ro Halfhide for the music on this show and to Immaculate Lemaron for proofreading the transcripts and helping this podcast be as accessible as possible.

Want to support the pod?
 Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and support the show on Buy me a Coffee. We are currently looking for sponsors, if you know someone or are a local businesses in the Rotterdam area that would like to know about our sponsoring plans, reach out to us here.

Support the show
Marc Suess:

But honestly, if you were trained designer, you're not equipped for that you have absolutely at least I had absolutely no idea on how to plan the marketing strategy in terms of budget.

Alex Villacis:

Hello friends, and welcome back to another episode of do I need school to be the podcast in which we Alex is going to sit down with creatives and ask them about their journey into the creative field focusing on their education, the teachers who shaped them, the books are shaped in the movies in general what their journey was like, if you're somebody who is thinking about entering the creative field, I hope this show will be a resource to you, and show you that we all have different paths, and they are all valid. So let's go. Welcome back, everybody to Episode 31. Yes, we're knowing the 30s I'm so excited to start this new chapter of the podcast with Mark Seuss. He's our creative director, the dream job of so many young designers and creatives, and he's going to tell us about it. He's gonna tell us about how he got there, the gaps on knowledge he noticed he had and why he went back to school to get actually a master's degree so he could become better at those particular key things. We'll also hear about that teacher that kind of looks like Penguin from Batman. I know. And much more about his philosophy on the connection between technology and education and how he what it's actually a brand this this episode is packed. I'm going to stop talking so we can get to it. Here's my conversation with Mark suits. Yes. Okay. Hi, Mark. How are you today?

Marc Suess:

Hey, I'm great. How are you?

Alex Villacis:

I'm good. It's It's so strange. talking to somebody from Hamburg. I lived there for years. Well, yeah. years, Germany for eight years and a huge chunk in a decent chunk in Hamburg. That's what's it like now today? How? How does it feel the restrictions are letting off?

Marc Suess:

Yeah, exactly. It's coming back to life, so to speak. We're having a sunny day right now. In mid April. So the springtime is slowly kicking in. And Hamburg is so amazingly beautiful. It's rare, but when it's sunny, it's, I think, the most beautiful city in Germany.

Alex Villacis:

So let's do it. That's right. Let's dive right in. For the listeners. Please, Mark, tell us who you are and what you're currently working on.

Marc Suess:

That's perfect. All right. So dear listeners, dear kanessa. Can I call you or do your listeners have a name? Students? Podcasts? Do

Alex Villacis:

I call them friends? To be honest, your friends? Oh, well,

Marc Suess:

that's nice. I call them brands. Sweet people. Because of their studio. I run

Alex Villacis:

Sue's Oh my god. Exactly.

Marc Suess:

My last name. Mark today was Zeus. Zeus probably translate from German to English as sweet. So that's why, yeah, I'm a creative director. I run my own design studio called the sweetspot studio here in Hamburg. And so I might just address the students for today as sweet people.

Alex Villacis:

Nice, they'll love it.

Marc Suess:

Okay, perfect. Yeah. And I mean, being a creative director running a brand building. And Design Studio is a variety of things. It's not just branding, or just a specific type of design. And we can dive into that later what I do specifically, on the side, I also have multiple podcasts and podcast host and producer, and I am a painter. So I do art on the side. So as you already mentioned, it's barely a straight line of I plant this, I executed this, I'm on a straight career path for 1020 years. It's ups and downs, left and right back and forth. And I love it.

Alex Villacis:

That's so cool. And so before we started, can you especially Ella think a lot of people today think brand and they immediately think about the social media brand. They think about creating content I can you tell the audience a little bit? What come what is brand development? Like what are the little pieces that come into a brand?

Marc Suess:

Absolutely. So I we can we can probably define it the best if we talk about the studio for a second because I say that I help artists and entrepreneurs to find and share their brands sweetspot. Which means that I mean in this sentence, there's a lot of things what what is a brand? I think a brand is to make it simple. A brand is the idea, the thought that pops into your head if you hear the name or see the logo or experience any kind of representation of what the brand could be that you have a pretty well defined and shaped idea in your head of what that brand looks like feels like what they stand for what they sell, what they use peers, what you can expect from them. Because at the end of the day, it's always about the client. It's about the customer. So what's in for me, that's the question we all ask ourselves if we get in touch with brands or something. So as well as we can define that that's what your brand is and that's what brand communication is all about. So I think it's yeah It can be a virtual experience, a website, a video, a podcast, it can be a real life experience. You come into a flagship store, how does it smell like what does it feel like? How does unwrapping the the ecommerce gift you just got from the brand? How does the client support talks to you? How does he say hi it as he address you sweet people as it's Mrs. Whatever, a million touch points. And I think you have to just and it's it's diversifying, you know, there's so many new media platforms, so many new outlets, so many touch points that you can force a specific journey that your clients will be on or force some kind of static image on people. So I think you really have to go on a meta level and develop on a very fundamental level, what do you want to stand for? What's your mission? What's your values as a brand, and that's what I help people to develop? Yeah.

Alex Villacis:

That is super clear. And I love how you put it like it has these little components. I love that you said smell. And I think enough people give smell the credit. It deserves. It's I was reading this book. It's called Taste by Stanley Tucci the actor. It's a book, I really recommend people when they don't know what a brand is. I tell him like read this book. It has nothing to do with branding. But like, stay with me for a second. In the book, he talks about his journey, regaining tastes because he had throat cancer. And the radiation and chemotherapy kind of ruined his tastebuds. And he lost everything. And he needed to get back in touch because he's Italian. So food is a very important part of his culture. And he goes back to Italy. And he's like relearning all these tastes and relating the experience. And he said that when he walked into his grandmother's house, it was the smell of it. It was the smell that he could walk into any other house. And it was the smell of it, that he couldn't describe because he wasn't smell food. He was smell of the things he was smelled the environment of the garden all mixed up into one experience. And it's that it's that feeling, it's like, oh, I mean, my grandmother's house now because of this tiny, invisible thing. So I love that you said that. It's not just the best stuff. It's also the invisible things that we can touch upon.

Marc Suess:

Yep. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I also work for perfume clients. So I'm personally also attached to this topic, I love food, I love the the nice things in life. So I think it's, it's yeah, it's also more fun to experience brands like this. And as I just said, I also think it's important, I think, the age of the big corporations and the big logos and the anonymous, huge, weird brands is kind of over at least for a big chunk of entrepreneurs today, I think it's about becoming more personal. Who's the face who's the founder, who's the creative person marketing person, I think we have a big longing for real people authenticity for real stories. So if I'm talking about brands, I'm not talking about legal entities, or fact sheets or numbers. I like to to do you know, this quote by Muriel Rukeyser. The universe exists of stories, not of atoms, I like to translate this into brands brands consists of stories, not of spreadsheets, or numbers or anything. So I think, to build a brand today, you really have to know who you are, what you stand for. And also you need a face, whatever that might be, could be a mascot could be a comic drying, maybe. Or it should, could be the founder, or someone from your team or whoever testimonials, whatever you might pick and whatever fits your brand. But I think you need authenticity and to be in touch with people and then you can find the right outlets for you.

Alex Villacis:

That's a great tip. It's like who is the inspiration for this? Like, how am I telling the story? And I think that comes storytelling. This amazing how do you get here? Like how did you get to owning this week? to creating a sweet spot for people like how did you get here? They drew always know that you wanted to be a designer, an artist, a creative director, like what? Take us back, take us back to Yeah, making that choice.

Marc Suess:

I love to I love to because this is something you mentioned this in our quick pre interview, that they are not always straight lines, not planned out. Artists. biographies are creative careers that you can lay down on paper one on one. And I think that's the most exciting thing, which also comes in a lot of stamina and a lot of Believe in yourself or your talent or the industry or your clients or whatever. So but let me let me start maybe at the beginning because you asked how did you get there and I want to ask what is their you know, I think it's work in progress as always With creative workers. So whether we talk about the brand building studio or the artworks, I do a podcast host, I would say these are entities of what I'm doing. The core of what I'm doing, I think, is creative entrepreneurship. So I combine creativity with experience in finding companies, running companies implementing strategies. And that's, so to speak my sweet spot as a person as an entrepreneur. But to trace it back, okay, I think I have one of my first memories. For this, we want to talk about what the DNA of Creative Entrepreneurship is, I think it was seven or eight years old. And at that time, I was a huge comic book fan. So I started drawing at that age, maybe earlier already. And when they finished, complete masterpiece, solid 12 page comic book of my own, a weird little story, and I was freaking proud of it. And so I took my pocket money, and I went to the coffee shop, and I made like, 25 copies of my little own comic book I did. And I went from door to door throughout the whole neighbourhood, and, uh, sold this comic book, I have no idea why it wasn't driven by a need to make money on this or something. It was just driven by Holy fucking shit. I made a whole comic book. I'm so proud of it. And now we're gonna distribute it. And of course, then people gave me some Give me candy bars and gave me a little money for it. And I don't even know what the impact was. Because I do not really remember what the comic was, I guess at that time, I was into he-man and sword fighting and battles, and I'm pretty sure there were some a little violence in it, and a little fighting and everything, but who cares? Right. So yeah, I mean, that was a very big point in my life, because I understood that from my weird brain cinema, the things that I can come up with. I can have impact and I can have maybe a couple of neighbours actually reading my thoughts. And that was a very sounds like a fun anecdote. But to me, that was a big thing, because it really made me I felt like I had an impact for for maybe the first time with without the not in the inner bubble of your family or friends. But basically strangers or people that you randomly meet that can now participate in one of your brain brainchild, you know, so that was maybe the first creative endeavour I made money off.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, wow. So precocious?

Marc Suess:

Yeah, yeah. Well, well, then, to be to be very honest, I also was very lucky. I think being lucky is a huge part of every creative career. And not meaning being driven by chance, you can try and force your luck and provoke your luck. Let's put it that way. By not making the safest choices by not going down the straight and easiest paths. But yeah, I think I've just been lucky in terms of in my late teens, early 20s, a lot of music. And at my early 20s, I decided I wanted to go into design and arts. And I started working at a creative agency out of the blue. So I didn't have any training or studies or anything. I just took my drawings, folded them up. And I basically went to the phonebook and rang up agencies and like the second agency, I rang, someone picked up and I'm like, Hey, I gotta work for you. I'm a great illustrator. How about I dropped by and show you my stuff. And she was totally overwhelmed. The very sweet. I've worked with her later for years. And she's a very sweet secretary. She was like, the good soul of the agency. And she was like, okay, so I don't know who you are. But why don't you drop by and I'll make you an appointment with our art department. So I just went ahead, literally, I had no idea. I used my computer at home to write songs and play video games. I had no idea on how to work, any software programme, anything. I literally just showed up there with a bunch of drawings, and a painting or something. And I was like, Hey, guys, I think your creative agency, I think you need something like this. Do you have an illustrator? Do you have a comic guy? If not, I'm free. And for whatever reason, this credit director was like, You know what, it's this guy's crazy, but I kind of like him. So they gave me a job. And I worked there for over a year earning some money. And yeah, then one of the bosses was like, Hey, I like what you're doing. And I would totally hire you, like full time for contract. But in my experience, it was great to spend some time studying your craft, because just for your personal journey, it's a great time, you should do this. And I was like, okay, but I want to keep working. It's fun. Because, again, to me, it was always fun to explore ideas in the real world. Just like really selling the comic book. No, not just I also don't like these ads and creative awards, but there's something we can touch on later. As it's from creatives, for creatives, it's like this excuse my French, but it's like the circle jerk of high gloss ideas. It's not connected to the real fabric of what people need, what the world may be needs to any real problems. It's just award show. Bs. I don't like it. Anyway. So yeah, then I went off to, to study it was a, I don't know what that's an international thing. I'm pretty sure it is a dual study. So 50% Work 50% studying, it was actually the first university in Germany that offered this, it was the dual school in the heavens book. No one else. That's okay. It's very down the south at the Bodensee. So I always imagined, of course, to be in Berlin, in Hamburg, live in the big city life. In between us, I would have never finished even my first semester in the big city. So I'm very grateful that I went to the tiny town and really got down and studied there for three years. And I learned a lot in this great, great high school. So yeah, and then I came back, and I was a media designer. And I worked for some years in this agency, took a little more responsibilities, got my own clients, who ended up as a creative director with responsibility for teams, for clients for a lot of money. And I felt like this is maybe another crucial point in talking about creative careers. I experienced at least in design studios, and ad agencies, but also in other fields. If you're not self employed, if you're within a bigger company structure, very often, if you're good at your craft, you get promoted higher and higher and higher. And suddenly you your job changes, fundamentally, you're take responsibility for teams, how to structure teams, how to run people, how to manage projects, and clients and you have responsibility for cash. But honestly, if you're a trained designer, you're not equipped for that you have absolutely at least I had absolutely no idea on how to plan the marketing strategy in terms of budget. Of course, I can do a great cross media channel marketing thing from the creative perspective. But I had no idea on how to build and run a business or your team, which actually was my responsibility. So I decided to do a master's degree in innovation management. And I did this in Munich and Berlin. But before I dive into that, maybe I saw you, I saw you reacting to some of the things I said, so this is your chance to totally disagree with me.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, it's, I mean, I have so many, so many things that really struck a chord with me, especially when you said like, you don't like design awards. And I'm kind of the same way. It's one of the downfalls or one of those something that makes me sad, honestly, about the design industry. I don't want to trash the Netherlands, I really don't want to. But it's hard not to because it really annoys me. It's specifically the fact that I feel like design is sometimes so nose up in the air, we're designing for other designers. And we're forgetting that a lot of people may not understand these concepts, or may not have the time to get invested into this performance art sort of stuff. It's I asked myself, who is this for? It's for people who are highly educated and have reasonably high income. But let's face it, a lot of people are not like that. A lot of people don't have access to that. And then we create this division with like, designers to try to be so inclusive and open minded, but we're allocating ourselves into this whole bubble. Which, and that's the question. So I like to challenge people being like, Okay, who is this for? And they're like, it's for everybody. Is it for everybody, though? Is it? Because would somebody who works construction be interested? Or would they understand it? So I read like, struck a chord with me when you said that about design agencies, because there's no words because sometimes we fall into that trap. It's that that circle jerk of these other people think I'm cool. They understand this colour palette

Marc Suess:

on that scent. And it just reminded me of there's a, for example, the impact that design can have is there's dyslexia typeface, for example. I mean, you can have an impact if it's not highbrow and if it's not designing for other designers. Absolutely. And I mean, you asked, Do I need school to be a designer? Probably. But do I need school to consume design? You shouldn't? Definitely not. Because as a designer, you give answers. Right? You give simple answers to probably complex and complicated questions. So to decrypt these answers, you shouldn't think too much. They should be intuitive. But yeah, I mean, this comes down to A lot of what I think on the meta level you want to talk about in this podcast when it comes to education, and school and training and your craft. Because I think these, I mean, it's I don't want to bash these awards too much, because I know a lot of young designers strive to be recognised with some kind of award or something. But if you ask yourself, what they really, what's the role of these awards, you know, because probably everyone who works in the creative field and whatever way, they experienced the same thing that people get very insecure and judging creative things. And rightfully so, if you come to museum see an abstract modernist painting, and you say, well, I could do this at home, well, you're probably a fool. So if you really dive into those things, and try to evaluate them to the end, especially if you are paying for them as a job, how does this logo? How does this font this colour this imagery? How does this resonate with me personally, with my brand with my, I mean, if you own a brand, you're building a heritage, you have to respect us as a designer, so you have to be empathetic enough to understand that people struggle in evaluating your creative output. So how do you bridge that gap? And I think this is why awards were invented. So well, I don't know if this design is, quote unquote, good or bad. So what can I rely on Customer Quotes, maybe that could work. But also, then we can put little badges on our chest or on our websites, like, Hey, I got these in these design. And this is shiny, and this is a gold button. And this looks nice. So and I think you're just trying to bridge the gap of trust, really, between your client and your own creative talent. And I think there are smarter ways to overcome this hurdle of trust or being on the same page when it comes to creative ideas and sharing ideas and participation in the creative process. There are smarter ways to do this, instead of just circle jerk award shows. Okay?

Alex Villacis:

Sounds good. Hey, friend, it's Alex just interrupting this conversation to remind you that in order to have the optimal experience, and enjoy all the links in the show notes, you can subscribe to the show on any platform you're using to listen to this podcast. And yeah, it supports the show it will improve the algorithm for you. So we will show you more shows like this one you will potentially like. And if you wish to support the show, you can follow us on social media, all the links are in the show notes as well as a link to buy me a coffee. Which Yeah, will help pay for the hosting. And I also love coffee. But enough my Bible, let's get back to the show. The worst thing that can happen is people tell you know, it's sorry, I don't have time. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And that's a thing. It's another learning process. Also building that callus of being like, I'm, I'm ready to take I will take like 10 notes, and then maybe I'll get a yes. And then another. My pitch gets better. It's a process of practising and practising and also getting a no, that's also a way of learning. It's, that's a teacher as well like, being like, Okay, you're not going to die. You didn't die?

Marc Suess:

Absolutely. And maybe this is something that I can if you want to circle back to how did I end up with the studio? Or why and how am I doing what I'm doing today? Because as I said, than I did my master's degree in innovation management. And I've had found out something that I really enjoyed and embraced and finding out that I think there is a big overlap in terms of what you need as an entrepreneur, and as a creative. So they have very lot in common. It's by far not the same, but they are very similar problems to tackle little time, little money. You need innovation. You need newness, I mean, it's the same question like What is good creativity, right? What is what is a good idea? There's always an aspect of usefulness and newness or innovation, quality to it. So yeah, that was really interesting and helped me to find my own positioning in this because I'm guess a by craft. I'm a I'm a creative and also by heart, I would say, but I also have the this entrepreneurial that I should call it fever, I guess because I want to not only do random things and artworks and all of that I need this but I also want to build something and I want to build a team and kind of have an impact in on it on a different level, not just as a creative output. So to come back to my own story to wrap that up. After the studying, I quit my job. And I moved to Hamburg and became a freelance creative director. And shortly after that, I founded a company with a fellow student, we develop digital products, he was the Tech Guide, tech genius, I was the creative guy. And when you develop products and ideas for other people, it doesn't take long until you come up with your own idea. So we founded a startup, full blown software as a service tech startup, which went actually great for I've done it for one year, one and a half years or something, and really skyrocketed, we got so much attention at press. And that was a great journey. Because at the beginning, you really have this founder spirit of sitting in the garage together, and I knew you, you come up with ideas, and you found this thing. And it's very, this business romantic image that you have a founding a company, that's really what it's like in the beginning. And then the reality hits, and you have to scale up and ramp up your business, and you need to talk to investors and everything. And to me, at one point, I had a very, I was deeply conflicted between Yes, it was great for your ego, you were your CEO, you ran your own company, you had a team, you got great press, and all of that. And it's a great story, the tech guy, the creative. And at the same time, there's been a big discrepancy of values, goals, style of the startup world that doesn't resonate with my style of working what I believe I should work for. I mean, I love my job, I'm not just working towards an exit. I love freedom and inspiration, I can go in an 80 hour work week. So I enjoyed the ride. But I found a very good time to leave that company before the next investment round. It was it had a strong brand great marketing idea the product was there and the first version. And yeah, we parted ways. And beginning of 2020, I founded the sweetspot studio, right before the pandemic. And it's been two wild and great years. But here we are,

Alex Villacis:

thank you for that story. I think it has so many insights into that that's the vision that everybody has, I'm gonna develop an app, or I'm going to do this, or I'm going to be a creative director. And it's like, there are a lot of things that come in there that have actually connective tissue with creating, but with design and being creative, but also like all the managerial stuff, it's like, do I want to be this tech startup? What do I want to do? How do I create a business in which I can focus on the things that I want to do, and maybe outsource the ones that you don't like, I've been freelancing for four years, I hate doing my taxes, I can't, it's too it's I outsource that, it's like I found somebody who can do it for me and do it way better than me. And that's also a process.

Marc Suess:

And we've important to know and learn that about yourself. Exactly.

Alex Villacis:

Also be like maybe you suck, like the product that I was telling you about, about make making it like I am part of like I did the research, the concept, the interviews, the figuring out the story of it, but let's face it, I cannot. So it's a real object, and I cannot. So my prototype is horrible. So I'm going to look for somebody who can. So for me, who can tell me when I was making a cheeses there was this, there was this sewing tutor actually looking at me, because I went to a workshop just tried to get the materials. It looks like you're doing it. Why are you doing this way? What? No. And I'm like, it doesn't have to work on a person, it has to tell a story.

Marc Suess:

I like what you just hit there because it's the same, your designer yourself and you experienced the same thing. You've been an apprentice where you learned about the technical side of design, a desktop publishing and how to print out getting things ready to print and all of that. And there's still it's still a very different job to being a quote unquote, designer after studying the whole thing. It's a different process. It resonates on a different level with you one is more crafty one is more artsy, there are so many varieties that go under the umbrella of design, for example. And I think that's also nice, because you're not singularity within yourself, you always have to see where can I apply my talents. And I think we later are going to talk about where to apply your talents and maybe teaching mentoring all of that stuff. And we're going to talk touch that later. But I think to see yourself once you found yourself and maybe your own story or what you want to do and what you're good at and what to me very important what your craft is not only what your what your knowledge base education is, whatever that can be. It can be a, a craft of words of thoughts or whatever. But I think the craftsmanship is pretty much undervalued, at least in Germany and in academia in Germany. And I really enjoy craft you think Things may be painting cooking the craft Sman ship part of designing something by hand, I really appreciate it because it connects you to a different to a different realm. And yet once you found this within yourself, I really think it's important on where do you want to connect yourself to which industry? What kind of people? What kind of lifework balance, all these things are not entirely out of your hand, you can totally decide on where do I want to take my talents, if you have the possibility, and you should really curate that and try that out and don't rush into a may be simple, straight looking career path. You know,

Alex Villacis:

that's the journey of it, because having different experiences and be like, Hey, I am curious about this from here, and I'm gonna take this piece from here, I'm gonna take in, I think that's the benefit of really going for a formal ish education or taking the time to learn even if that's from a mentor, just taking the to having these opportunities to pick up those pieces. And if we go a little deeper into that, since you had a formal education, and you chose to extend that into a master's degree, what do you think the benefits were in that? Did you have any teachers there that you want? Like, the good, the bad, the terrible? And the Yeah, can you tell us a bit of a more like end to like, what your journey was? Like? Do you have any? What were your teachers? Like? Do you have any very inspirational ones? And I say, teacher in the loosest sense of the word, a book can be a teacher, a trip can be a teacher, like anything can be teaching you something. So like, bring us there, take us paint us a word picture?

Marc Suess:

Well, I think there's two, there's two very different words. One is teacher one is mentor. So let's start with the with the teacher, one. I always remember great teachers, bad ones as well. But the ones you like to remember are good teachers. And to me, they always stood out because I'm pretty sure in your podcast, you already touched on the psychology and the personality types of creatives versus other typologies. And with this high openness, different varieties and stamina, and all these specific character traits that come with creativity, even though it sounds like yeah, creativity is such a nice thing everyone wants it, I would like to paint on the weekend. It comes with a lot of baggage in terms of high openness, instability have in a lot of other character traits, so to speak. So I was very, very sensitive towards Is there a teacher that is not going for the regular scientific, let's do maths, and physics, and all the other stuff that's valued so highly in terms of music, or compared to arts. So to me, it always resonated when someone acknowledged your your improvisational or creative spirit, even as a as a child. So I remember in school, my favourite teacher was the one that just gave us writing assignments, no rules, like, usually, for homework you needed, like the whole textbook, and you got to look it up. And it was just like, fill in the blanks. And then you had a teacher that was just like, You know what, let's tell a story about this and this, or you come up with something. And you had to figure out the rules along the way, and make up your own rules. And this is something that I really enjoy is a process in which goes into the craft of designing things all the time, from grit, to developing a, literally a corporate design, where you come up with all the rules and all the all the elements and all that stuff. So I think writing your own rules, and coming up with your own structures is something that really resonates with a lot of creative people, as it did with me. So yeah, I remember in school, it was those teachers that empowered you to improvise, to take the stage literally on a more metaphorically on the page and writing and homework. Yeah, and I think later, University has been great, I must say, a lot of great teachers, because then you kind of find your tribe, and then it resonates with you on a lot of different ways. Again, it's shifted when I studied design, in a sense that everyone was very gooey and very peaceful and very sensitive because they were very aware of the people they were working with young creative people that can be very easily scared or scarred by criticism and all of that. And I remember my favourite teacher was the the absolute opposite. He was a giant man smoking his little frickin cigar in the FDA, which of course was forbidden, but he didn't give a shit. And he it just came in. And he was he was a full blown artist. He was like the only quote unquote real artists in terms of freelance artists. He's a painter. He's a sculpture. He does drawings. He's not working commercially as So he was really free spirited and not a classically trained teacher. So he didn't give a shit how we felt, he gave us an assignment, work with these black and white squares come up with 50, maybe 100 varieties of this specific little thing, it was always astronomical numbers, you always overwhelmed us completely, which I also loved. And then you had to hang it up the wall, I remember this. So this one assignment was okay, you have a white square and a black square, and you cut up this black square, and glue it back on the white square. And whatever shapes patterns or designs you want to do, and you do 50 to 100 variations of this, and then you pick like your favourite two, and of these two, you again, do at least 100 variations. So it's been super labour intense. And then at the end of this two week period or something, he had us all glue our little squares on this giant to the wall. And we assembled as a team as a as a as a class. And he got up there with a cigar, looked at these things and started plucking them off the wall, just commenting like, well, that's bullshit, that doesn't work. What's that crap. And a lot of those and a lot of us were really scared and hurt and everything, but I really enjoyed it because it felt it's like so, hey, if this guy will pat you on the back or say this is good, it really means something. And this is something that I really appreciate. Because I feel like it's good to be sensitive about people's emotions and everything. But if you're within the safe space of your class of your athletes of your studio, or whatever, you really need to face criticism to come up with the best idea because that's what counts at the end of the day, you really have to find the best design, copywriting, whatever it is. So to me, the the teacher I appreciate shifted from the cold, hard world of school and maths and everything, where I love to be appreciated and treated sensitively as a student to Okay, and now in an environment where I really need honest feedback. Now, please take up the gloves and really show me what is good, what is bad, what needs some more work. So to me personally, the teachers I appreciate shifted. And today I'm a I'm a lecturer myself at the School of popular arts in Berlin. So I teach brand design and brand experience and I give podcast classes there. And I'm trying to do the same because they sign up for a creative and Media Studies. And I think they need honest feedback and Tales from the quote unquote, real world. So yeah. That's my teacher experience.

Alex Villacis:

I these in my mind, he's been waiting. Yes. Just without cigars.

Marc Suess:

By the way, do you know who plays the penguin?

Alex Villacis:

I know, we're calling barrel. I was shocked. Shout

Marc Suess:

out to the makeup department. Absolutely amazing job. Yeah.

Alex Villacis:

I'm a huge misconception in non design. So not an article in the traditional school system is that when you go to art school, it's all flowers and then saying and create making up brainstorms and stuff like that, but and sketching is like, it's actually a lot of hardcore feedback. And that's the part that I think it's challenging for people that many come from high school when they were like the best art student in their class. And suddenly you're in an environment, people who are maybe better than you and the fact that you have teachers that are going to kind of push you harder, if they see that you have more to give it's

Marc Suess:

Well, exactly this is there's no resistance, you don't appreciate you can't value the things that go through. Yeah, absolutely.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, totally. It's kind of the same as, and you cannot also not force it there. They're commonsensical. It's, you have to do it. But to us a lecture like you're that kind of teacher like, do you like pushing people but like, pushing them? And how do you stay away from buttons? Because we all have like sensitive spots? And do you ever think about that? It's like, can I put How do you measure that? How you measure how much you can push somebody? Do you have like a sixth sense?

Marc Suess:

Where well, that really depends on what environment we're talking about. Because let me let me expand on this. And then we can we can I want to answer your question. I mean, teaching at the university is one case where I found myself a teacher or a mentor or something. And then I'm also lucky enough that for some of my clients with the studio, I'm also kind of a mentor. Because, as I as I said, what I do with the studio consists of two things. It's on the one hand, of course, it's a design studio. So I help you with design and storytelling and media production. All of this so I help you share the story. You have your brand up you sweetspot but it also helps you find it and this comes with mentoring, creative coaching, a lot of workshops I do And I found my own way of doing them. So of course, you can have like, quick creative team coaching, that's one or two days that just burst your imagination and is problem solving and creative way. But you also have this thing called purpose quest for I found a lot of entrepreneurs or even artists, sometimes along the way have to get in touch again, with their, with their founding Spirit and with the energy that drew them towards what they do today. So it's really like a week long, very intense session that I do with them. And at this moment, I I switch roles between challenging people being there for them giving creative input. So yeah, so to answer your question, I think in a university context, what I experience, unfortunately, is that people are very, very keen on having a incredibly safe space. And I don't mean this in terms of we don't need safe spaces, Jesus, of course, that's very, very good. But I still think you have to make do you have to separate between what is a political and society necessity to change fundamentally, and at the same time, a classroom to me is a safe space for thoughts as well, and for expressing your thoughts. So to me, it's important to have an open discussion culture, if you know what I mean, everyone can say, hey, I appreciate this idea. And, of course, we go with good old improv rule of Yes, and building on ideas, not cutting them down right away, and all of that. But still, I feel a lot of students are hesitant today, because they censor themselves, in their mind so much from being PC from Kancil culture from all of this, and this, which all is rooted in very, very good change we need in society, but it's sometimes it drips down into your own private, creative bubble in terms of what ideas can I come up with? Or are they immediate cultural appropriation, if I want to quote something that's not from my, whatever family heritage or something, so I feel there's a lot of society change happening, which is great, but also impacts your freedom of thinking even not even of speech. But I feel a lot of people are hesitant to really let go and just create in the moment, and of course, you will say something that's maybe, maybe stupid, I'm not talking about horrible things, you know, I'm just maybe someone says, I think that's bullshit. And this actually happened in the course. And people were so offended, and I really had to calm the whole class, because someone just said, it's bullshit. And I was like, hey, people, really, it's it's a debate you can't come up with, you can't get better ideas, if they're not open for discussion. You know, what I mean?

Alex Villacis:

You know, I took this I love, like discussions, and like having open conversations with people listen to this podcast on how to have a creative discussion. And the person said, like, Okay, we have to apply the rules that we apply in an MMA fight. And I'm like, that's, that's an interesting concept. So in an MMA fight, you have a space in which people can beat the crap out of each other. Yeah. But if that happened in any other scenario, now we'll get prime, but it's to people who know what they're getting themselves into, they have trained, they have prepared, and they're going to do this for a limited amount of time, with supervision with clear rules, they all know what's not allowed, they all know what's allowed. They're gonna go at it with everything they have, and then they're gonna step out. And I think that's what you're saying is that creating the space in which you can have tough conversations and ask questions.

Marc Suess:

And I'm not even talking about political statements or anything, we're literally just talking about creative brainstorming where a lot of people censor themselves. And that is a big limitation. And I think this is a very fundamental threat to getting the best out of your education. Because if you're not, if you're not faced also with criticism, and people that think in different ways, and they'd say, Hey, I think this idea is really bullshit to quote my own, my old professor with his fucking cigar coming in there smoking in front of us, and just telling us that's bullshit. And of course, that was kind of offensive, but not in a way that scarred us for life. Quite the opposite. It was like, hey, finally, some real feedback or a space where I can debate ideas, and I can really say, oh, fuck, man, I worked so hard on this and why is it shared? And can we make it any better and really get get into it, you know, and not stay on the surface of it.

Alex Villacis:

And do you think this asking questions and open discussion Do you think that's going to seep into the future of creative education because I think when when we talk a lot about the future, we everybody thinks technology They think like, oh, apps? And like how do you feel about that? How are you? I'm what I cringe whenever everybody says there's a problem is, let's make an app. It's like I cringe at that knowledge that not Well, of course, I don't want to say nonsense. No, that notion, that notion?

Marc Suess:

Absolutely. Well, let's do questions. Let me start with the with the apps or technology part of the question, then let's face the future of creative education. Well, before I got immersed into the startup world, and also technology world, I felt the same as you did. And it's just random. And I mean, it's the joke. Basically, it's like the punchline of a joke. There's an app for that, or let's make an app for that for a good reason, because it's tough, competitive, tricky market. And oh, I think I lost my grill sauces, there should be an app to track them, or whatever silly idea you have. They always think, oh, I should do an app for that. And people underestimate what the market and the development time and the skill also from the design perspective, which I appreciate in terms of UX and UI design, and the morality that goes along with this. Because if you talk about developing apps and technology you are, it's like, it's like an old fairy tale of black and white magic, and that it goes for design there. If you develop software and applications, you can choose to help people solve problems be on the white magic side of the design. Or you can do the black magic part, which is something like habit forming products, which actually means how do we build products that are highly addictive, such as Instagram, Tinder, tick tock, all these things that fire up your neurons, fuck up your hormones and really get you technology addicted, which are totally tested and designed to specifically do this in a way that I mean, that's not news to to a lot of people. But if you watch all the documentaries, and see how people that actually build these technologies, and software's tweet their own kids, none of them gets a smartphone, none of them is supposed to be on social media. I think social media is going to be the new smoking in a couple of years. Because it's really just it's really bad. Even though it's part of my job, and I think you can handle it. Well, if you reflect on it. And if you're aware of it's kind of your media intake junk food section, you have like this whole grand stuff like reading and educating yourself. And sometimes you just need a fatty bag of fries. Let's let's check out some, some Instagram videos or something that

Alex Villacis:

sometimes you just want to call reverse pizza.

Marc Suess:

Exactly. Wow. Okay, if that's what you need. Exactly. Exactly. Yes. Well, I think you need some kind of holy, dirty little sinful things in your life. It can't be just boring, clean. Whatever, you need some. Something that Ruffins up the fabric of your of your existence. May that yeah, sometimes we need a clogged artery things. Yeah, exactly. Makes

Alex Villacis:

you feel alive makes you feel alive. That'd be like like, Oh, my heart is struggling right now. No. I'm alive. Yep.

Marc Suess:

100%.

Alex Villacis:

What was the thing? There? Is this thing? Nothing gets you closer to God that are really bad hangover.

Marc Suess:

didn't love it? Perfect. Oh, that's great. Yeah, well, I mean, that's the that's the first part in terms of technology. I'm interested in technology. I use a lot of it for my clients, because it's part of my job to craft customer journeys, brand stories across all media and channels. From being an artist, I'm interested in NF Ts and what's happening and how they impact the understanding of art, and the whole art market and all of this. That doesn't mean that I'm an enthusiast, or even an optimist when it comes to technology. Yeah, but I'm, I'm in touch with all that stuff. Yeah. And this was the first part of the question, and I forgot the second part already.

Alex Villacis:

It's, do you think in like, because we have this PC culture and like getting cancelled critical education? Yeah. Do you think yeah, there is a chance or like, we should bring more of these open space to discuss things and push and pull to creative to the future of gratification, like because we're now very focused on the technology part, but the content particles are very important.

Marc Suess:

Yeah, to, again, two thoughts about this. First of all, the technology part is pretty easy to answer. Fact technology. That's your that's your that's one way. One limited way of expressing your ideas. Without ideas or creative output. There is no need for technology as well. Also, I think the whole development thing is going to be the next clue. Colour jobs. I mean, of course, you can imagine yourself as the next Steve Jobs. But that's pretty. It's a pretty big bet. We need programmers, it's great. But it's a highly not creative, more linguistically, and mathematically based job. I think the connection of entrepreneurship, creativity, these shiny brands that evolved from the from the world of tech are absolutely outstanding personalities and very, very, very rare. So, yeah, it's like, I want to be a mechanic, I'm probably going to be Ford, well, maybe not. You know what I mean? I pick up a brush and a canvas, and I'm going to be DaVinci. Well, probably not. So that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. But I think to have the right expectations and know what you're going for, again, to put yourself in perspective, and see how your surroundings will resonate with you is a very important step of this. So I think whatever craft you choose for yourself, be aware of where you will end up or where you can put yourself and which brings me to the next thing. One more thought about this, because I see this a lot in trainees, people I work with students I teach. If you are developing ideas visually, for copywriting for whatever realm you needed, I can only highly recommend you to stay away from technology. And use a pen and paper or paper models or cutouts or your hands or clay or whatever you might find. But make it analogue make it non digital, not connected, stay off the web for at least your sacred little creative sessions. I think it's very healthy and really a fundamental step and coming up with unique ideas and good ideas, you can later benchmark them, you can do a competitive analysis, you can jazz it up later, digitally. Of course, of course, all of this is fine. But if you want to be really involved in your work, and be proud of it and come up with original ideas, what I think is important. Get don't start by surfing the web or looking for something or spending half an hour picking the right brush type and Photoshop or finding the right font, it just eats away your time and your energy that you should put in really this weird, interesting, dark little jungle of your brain, that you maybe go hunt for ideas and right, so if you waste this on weird tech stuff, it's gone. It's just it's just a tiny little spark that you can maybe pull out of thin air and if you miss the opportunity, it's it's gonna be gone. You can recreate this, I think so. Yeah, if you go ideas hunting

Alex Villacis:

to it. I love that. I love that. And I think my favourite part of it is that it's very empowering. It's it's not about expecting these creative institutions, or mentors or teachers will work for you. It's, it's about you. And it's not saying like, it's your fault. If you don't succeed, maybe success is gonna look different than you think it's gonna look, you're gonna start in point A, you want to get to point B, but it's not going to be like this straight line, it's going to be a squiggly line. And then B maybe wasn't where you thought it was. It's a completely different place. I love this episode. I think it was so insightful. Mark, and we have made it we have made it to the end. I am so happy that we did this. And this is your space to plug in like do you is there anything you want to promote? Or the recommendations? Is there a movie or book, something that you think the friends the listeners, the future professional creatives would like to know about? Yeah, tell us about you. And what would you recommend that?

Marc Suess:

Well, I love that. Thank you so much. Well, a book I would recommend to the sweet people listening is the book I just mentioned, I can send you a link, you can put it in the shownotes. It's from the Swiss author, Max fish. And he just wrote a book full of questions about life about friends. It's I think it's for at least the German podcasters I know it's the one on one. Maybe it's it's nice for you as well. And I think it's really cool to go into a deeper level of asking yourself these questions or even to get to know your friends better. Next time you sit by the campfire or you go on a weekend vacation with whoever. If you want to get to know them and really reach new terrain with them. You can pull this book out and debate some of those questions. It's really nice. So and I also use this book for for my podcast, which is called the sweetspot podcast. It's the step podcast for my studio, which also is in English since this year. It's been in June. Herman the last year now it's in English. You could find it wherever you listen to your podcasts or on my studio website. sweetspot dash studio.com. So you find more tales from other creators and some creative insights and workflows there. And yeah, if anyone listening wants to learn more about me or the studio or how they can find their sweet spot, same address, also on Instagram and all the other social networks, so maybe I see you on the other side.

Alex Villacis:

Nice. Everything will be linked in the show notes. What? Thank you so much, Mark. And I hope you had a great day.

Marc Suess:

Thank you so much for inviting me. It's been good fun, and talk soon.

Alex Villacis:

And we did talk soon, actually, because we did an episode swap. So Mark was in my podcast, and I was on his podcast, and you can find a link to that episode in the show notes, as well as a link to all of marks stuff. I mean, I mean, this conversation was so insightful. I was so engaged the entire time to what his experiences I really had a picture of that teacher in my mind. Maybe he's not excited the current Coronavirus Penguin, but I had it was there. I really enjoyed this episode. I hope you learned a lot. I hope it piques your interest. And that you're gonna go check out Mark's work because it's really awesome. He's paintings. I was entranced. But yeah, thank you so much for being here with me. And I hope you enjoy that. And as we come to the end of the show, I want to say thank you for joining me on another episode and giving me your time. I hope you're enjoying these conversations. Please subscribe to the show, give it a review or give us feedback. It's always welcome. Are there questions you would like to ask Creatives or do you have somebody who would like to recommend for the show, you can reach out to me on social media or email which is all linked in the show notes. Also special thank you to Anne, Catherine and Marcus for supporting the show through buy me a coffee. Love you guys and I appreciate the encouragement. Also, thank you to Rohit Haida for the music for this show and to immaculately Marin for her help proofreading the transcripts and helping keep the podcasts as accessible as possible to close. Thank you for listening again this week, and I hope to be back in your ears very soon. Until then, keep learning and stay curious.

Unknown:

Bye