Visuals & Vibes by Creative Director Amy Osburn
For Amy Osburn, Creative Direction is more than just about the imagery. It's about using visuals to start a conversation in a way that is fresh and unique. She has used her creative eye to add depth to countless campaigns and has helped both small and large companies develop innovative visual branding. In our interview with her, Amy describes the ever-changing intricacies of working in a creative field. It's easy to see that she puts her heart and soul into everything that she does, and is determined to provide a unique visual experience for everyone who sees her work.
Tell us about what got you started in your field. Did you go to school for art or grow up around artistic people?
I come from a photojournalism background and started my career working mainly as a photo editor for various publications. Somewhere along the way, maybe between an extended freelance gig at ABC and my time at Conde Nast, I began to move away from the journalism aspect and more toward the creative side. All of those journalistic skills still fed into what I did, just in a different way. It was a natural progression for me, I wanted to be more in the creator role rather than the role of the recorder and reporter.
Some people find the terms “creative director” and “art director” to be a little vague, can you describe what it is that you do?
It is a little vague! I think purposely so because in truth, it really does vary pretty widely depending on the role or the project. Basically, I see myself as a conduit for expression, I help give visual definition to their brands. Ultimately, they want a dose of freshness or my aesthetic mixed in as well. A lot of times clients are curious to see their brand viewed in a fresh light and reinterpreted, but in a way that they can relate to.
Has your creative style changed over the course of your career or stayed the same? Can you describe your current style to us?
Style is constantly evolving. I think my style has become more refined and at the same moment more accepting of new expressions. I don’t think my style is something that changes of the moment, certainly it adapts, but doesn’t completely morph. But if I had to point to what interests me now — it is basically ideas and expressions that have weight and meaning, an aesthetic that displays a historic understanding of your subject but shown in a new light. I am really bored with the thinness and copycat nature of visuals these days.
What do you want people to see or feel when they look at a project that you’ve worked on?
First I want them to feel. I want them to see the layers, the complications of what I am presenting. I want them to be able to spend time traveling in the photograph or the design. Which particular feelings they feel, I don’t really care to control because imagery is so subjective in the first place, we each take something different from it.
Describe a typical day in the life of a creative director.
Truly there is no typical day and the freedom to be a bit unstructured is a must! Time management and allowing for magic are a fine balance.
“I want them to feel. I want them to see the layers, the complications of what I am presenting. I want them to be able to spend time traveling in the photograph or the design. Which particular feelings they feel, I don’t really care to control because imagery is so subjective in the first place, we each take something different from it."
What are some difficulties that you encounter in your field of work?
Budget and politics (office).
Where do you find sources of inspiration?
For me, inspiration doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s not just a singular trip to a museum or logging on to Pinterest, something that you purposefully seek out. What I mean to say is that you can’t just walk out the door and say today I will be inspired, you have to be open to the moment for it can truly be anything: it’s the perfect flavor, it’s a tile in downtown LA, it’s someone’s generosity.
What’s it like to work with major companies like Levi’s and The New York Times?
It’s wonderful to have your work reach a larger audience by being part of the creative team. But honestly, I love that I have the freedom to work with all scales of clients from independent operations to much larger companies.
Do you have one project that has been your absolute favorite?
Too many to mention but currently, my screenplay.
You have a ton of skills under your belt including publishing, brand building, designing, managing, strategizing - the list goes on! Are there any more skills that you’re trying to learn in order to further expand your career?
I am always looking for new mediums to express different ideas. I am interested in finding multidimensional avenues for creativity. Sometimes to fully demonstrate a concept you might need to use perhaps three mediums whether it’s print, film, or Social Media.
What are three hidden gems in LA?
For me, LA is all about epicenters of energy. There’s a place I love to sit when I'm at my car wash where I can feel this great energy, I imagine it belonged to a great healer centuries ago. You used to able to stare up at the San Gabriel’s and though they have built apartments that have wrecked my view, I can still feel the vibe.
Sunday mid-mornings at El Cid. I make myself a bloody from their bloody mary buffet and wander back inside to watch the banda dancers and listen to the flamenco band. El Cid has been around since the 1920’s, getting it’s start as a speakeasy— it has stories to tell.
Late lunch at the Little Next Door. After/before the crowd, sitting outside or inside, each equally as lovely. A glass of rosé, their lentil salad, and as many of their macaroons as I can eat without embarrassing myself.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH is a celebration of art, fashion, and culture. It seeks to celebrate the women — known or unknown who embody a certain spirit and drive to engage with the world in a wholly new and inventive way. Females who walk their own path, defining it as they move through it.
Who’s your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is and why she’s an inspiration to you.
For me, it is Patti Smith. She moves through this world like a poem, finding her own meaning. Her journey of discovery, her self-awareness, her constant quest for meaning, and understanding are completely inspirational to me. Patti’s treasures are her experiences and her ability to be present and open for the moment, she doesn’t need to orchestrate, or control it. She is completely in tune.