Jay Schwartz – President of IdeaWork Studios

Companies of all sizes understand how crucial it is to have tools that will more effectively sell their products, help them compete in the marketplace, aid in developing brand recognition and communicate their messages. Jay Schwartz and his company IdeaWork Studios offer the best tools that a company can use when they need technical expertise, creative marketing strategies and cutting edge designs.

IdeaWork Studios flourishes in its two locations (Santa Barbara and Las Vegas) with a growing number of national clients including: the Harrah’s Corporation, Bally Technologies, Health Net of California, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hooters Casino Hotel Las Vegas, Station Casinos, Inc., Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino, MGM Mirage Corporation, Morgans Hotel Group, Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Tropicana Resort Las Vegas, Cirque du Soleil and Crunch.

Jay Schwartz says, “Our clients come to IdeaWork because they are eager to work with one of the best creative agencies around without any bureaucratic politics.  I like to think of our company as the antidote to the big agency experience. We produce superior results on budget and on time.”

With over 17 years of hands-on design experience, Schwartz commits his time and attention to every assignment, so that nothing leaves the building without his approval and involvement.  Schwartz is so successful because he makes sure that his intricate work always seems so easy to understand. With a hefty return on their investment, the clients’ successes have prompted other high profile clients to procure Schwartz’s services.

Schwartz founded his studio after becoming somewhat disillusioned by the business side of the fine art world. After graduating from art school, he explored professional opportunities for himself where he could best express his creativity. Working as a designer at other companies gave Schwartz a solid technical foundation and prompted him to open a solo graphic design firm in 1995.

Schwartz began his career in design at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Receiving his Bachelors degree in Art Studio with an emphasis in Printmaking and Bookmaking/Typography, Schwartz always knew that he would work in the creative world.  He furthered his education at the esteemed Pasadena Art Center to take Masters’ classes in computer graphics and design to supplement his undergraduate studies.

In addition to being a graphic designer, fine artist and brand pioneer, Schwartz is also a world-renowned street painter.  He regularly participates in festivals throughout the United States including: those in California in San Raphael, San Luis Obispo, San Diego and Bakersfield. Schwartz has traveled as far as Italy to color the sidewalks of Grazie di Curtatone and Florence. When asked what his favorite aspect of street painting is Schwartz replies, “It is the one visual art medium where people can witness its creation.”

Always creating, traveling and discovering new streets around the world on which he may paint, Jay Schwartz splits his time between two of his favorite cities: Santa Barbara and Las Vegas with his wife and three dogs.

What are you working on right now?

I’m a multi-tasker, my interactive agency, IdeaWork Studios, is currently working on several dozen projects. A few of the more exciting projects are:

1. The branding and marketing collateral for Intervention, the Sunday pool party at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. We’re doing everything for the 2010 summer season, including website, print ads, posters, and a bus wrap. We handle all the design, interactive, and marketing for their other two clubs, 207 and Float, but the Intervention campaign is really exciting.

2. Several really cool microsites–for hotels, casinos, and nightlife venues across the country.

3. Several high-profile iPhone and Android apps. They’re going to be really cool, but they’re hush-hush for now.

3 Trends that excite you?

1.  Mobile Apps. The proliferation of iPhone and Android apps are opening up whole new avenues for interactive designers. We have a whole new set of toys to play with and the narrower focus of mobile apps gives us more leeway in how we do what we do. The mobile application doesn’t have to function like a website, nor does it have to be everything to every browser–the more controlled environment of the app allows us to take a more visual approach to web apps.

2. Social Media. It’s good to see corporations take to social media to gain an understanding of who their customer really is, and what they expect from the company. It’s changed the way many of my clients do business, and the continued evolution keeps us all on our toes.
3. The demise of email marketing. The rise in social media as a valuable marketing tool and a way for companies to connect with their customers, coupled with its no-cost and immediacy, will leave the inbox clutter-free. Legitimate email marketing is dying; with the intricacies of CAN-SPAM compliance and deliverability issues, along with the potential lag in open- and click-rate. It’s going to be exciting when we can reclaim the Inbox for important communications without having to weed through garbage.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I start by immersing myself in the client’s product … if it’s a hotel; i stay at the property and experience it as a guest. I don’t tell anyone I’m coming, I don’t look for special treatment, I just show up as a guest and learn about what makes the property what it is–warts and all. If it’s a product, i buy it or try it out. I can’t come up with ideas without knowing what it is that I’m selling/promoting and believing in it. After that, i brainstorm away, either alone or as part of my team. We put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes and speak to ourselves. From there, our process is rather academic — design, build, deploy.

What is one mistake that you made, and what did you learn from it?

Early on, I was reticent to speak up for myself regarding contract negotiations. I let the client dictate the terms because I thought I wanted the work. I never sought out an attorney to write my contract and would rely on prefab forms. I learned the hard way that the business of a creative agency is unique and that just because I wanted the business didn’t mean I had to compromise my principles.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

This sounds stupid, but invest in an online backup system. It’s not that expensive and the peace of mind gained by knowing that your data is safe is priceless. Computer issues happen all the time, and never when you can afford for them to happen. Online backup is easy, painless, and will save you countless hours when something happens. An added bonus in online backup of your data is that some services provide remote access to files, making those weekend dashes to the office to pick up a file a thing of the past.

How did you start out running a creative agency?

I never intended to be in the “business” of being creative. I started my career as a fine artist and gradually fell in love with graphic design. I’ve always been a visual communicator, so it was a natural leap to the commercial side of art, and it didn’t hurt that it paid the bills. As my freelance client base grew, I realized that I couldn’t do it all myself, and I hired junior-level help. Over the period of a couple of years, that evolved into the agency we are today.

How do you stay creative?

Because my business is being creative, keeping mentally sharp is paramount. In order to stay creative, I’m always flexing my creative muscle. When I’m not in front of the computer I can often be found working on a street painting, a mural in chalk pastels on asphalt. This allows me to express myself creatively and gives me an excuse to travel the world and experience other cultures. I also draw a lot, and will never be caught without sketchbook in-tow.


IdeaWork Studios