How I got here: Alaa Demachkie, creative director, SPARK*

Demachkie details the background and mindset that has got him where he is today



Education

There have been lots of books and no desks. My real education came from the people and creatives I worked with. Some taught me and others challenged me. Since I never graduated from anywhere, I feel like I’m constantly studying. I believe that graduation gives you a sense of accomplishment that makes you feel like ‘learning time’ is over. I feel blessed that I didn’t continue on this road, and instead forced myself to study and learn from everything around me, as I still do.

My start

When I was a kid, about nine or 10 years old, I used to wonder how products or brands got to be featured on TV. I used to think that Rayovac batteries and Nido were so good that TV channels just decided to make ads for them. That wasn’t how I started though. I just wanted to be a programmer. Computers fascinated me – I was inspired by Visual Basic and Borland, and a couple of months later I discovered Adobe and Corel. They had more colours, vibrancy, fun and that was it. I was hooked and ended up discovering how ads are made in a software development company.

Approach

My approach is to be flexible (my team would be rolling their eyes now). For me, flexibility is not a compromise as some might think. What we do isn’t scientific and doesn’t have a set of formulas that guarantee success or failure. That’s why I believe in being flexible in my views and my thought process, especially when receiving feedback or opinions that may cause some to raise their eyebrows. I’ve been known to be stubborn in the past, but experience shows you that you never know where a great idea or solution might come from. It’s always a pleasant surprise.

Dos and don’ts

Do things that discomfort you. Good ideas should scare you a little – it’s usually a sign of creativity. Think with your heart and execute with your brain because your gut is quicker, and your brain can make sense of anything at its own pace. It’s easier said than done because you will fail – It’s inevitable in this business – but logic isn’t a guarantee to success; an experienced gut instinct is. Don’t blame your team first or second or third for a mishap. If you’re in charge, start by questioning yourself 10 times first because at the end of the day it’s your responsibility anyway.

Highs and lows

I learned the hard way that highs and lows are really all about how you look at things. When you find your true north and stick to it, everything else becomes a journey of ups and downs that make things interesting. I usually look back at my lows and find connections to my highs. It all becomes a balancing act of different intensities of highs once you understand and embrace the process.