Graphic & Web Design
Creative Director at Maiux Marketing
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
I got the best piece of career advice from an instructor at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. He said not to be afraid to hop from agency to agency in the beginning of your career. This has really helped me to learn and climb in the advertising world. Harry O'Brien , Creative Director at Maiux Marketing Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, 2008 , The Art Institute of Philadelphia
Creative Director at Maiux Marketing
Harry O’Brien is the creative director at Majux Marketing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He oversees and manages the creative department, leads new client project direction, and manages/mentors employees and interns on client relations, strategy, art direction and design. He also pitches new work to current and prospective clients.
Harry’s work experience includes teaching English at a technical university in Prague, then returning to the United States to work as a lead graphic designer at a large community art and cultural resource center. “This gave me enough experience to work as a mid-level designer at a design firm called Edgimo, where I was introduced to local clients as well as the medical and biotech side of advertising.” He also freelanced for a New Your City agency before moving on to Digitas, one of the largest pharmaceutical advertising agencies in the world. From there, he worked at Harris Baio & McCullough in Philadelphia—then finally settled in his current position. “Majux started as an search engine optimization marketing company, but with my help it is being reorganized into a full-service ad agency. Majux is now growing rapidly,” he says.
Harry’s typical workday includes finding new employees, conceptualizing and designing ads, fine-tuning developers’ work, and research. He advises current students to freelance while in school to build experience—and a client list.
He explains that the biggest challenge he’s faced in his career involved graduating at a time when many companies were shifting from print to digital design. “Unfortunately, most of what was being taught in school was still print design. So upon graduation, I had to learn the fundamentals of digital design on my own. This involved lots of reading, research, and asking questions. It also involved having a lot of my work criticized and critiqued by my mentors in the industry and learning from my mistakes.”
With technology always changing, he makes it a point to learn other people’s jobs and how they do them. He’s especially focused on technical search engine optimization. “I have to learn how to interpret new analytical data to increase conversion rates in various forms of digital marketing. Setting up and running tests on different designs helps me to understand what is changing in the eyes of a consumer—which helps to focus our designs to increase conversions.”
Harry adds that new designers should be prepared to pay their dues. “This means working at a low-salary job and taking orders for many years from people you may think you have more talent than.” Now that he oversees his own employees, Harry is focused on building a creative environment at work. “[I assign] employees new types of projects and clients. It is a great way to keep people from slipping into a monotonous work routine. I also create a fun work environment to boost creativity and productivity. We regularly sign up for company wide sports leagues, activities, events, and happy hours to increase interaction amongst the staff.”
Harry, who in 2008 earned a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Philadelphia, says that his education provided the fundamentals he needed to transition into a real-world job. “I got the best piece of career advice from an instructor at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. He said not to be afraid to hop from agency to agency in the beginning of your career. This has really helped me to learn and climb in the advertising world.”
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