2 Minutes With … Azsa West, CCO of Wieden+Kennedy Portland

On having a point of view

Clocking in with nearly 15 years as a creative in the industry, Azsa West currently serves as chief creative officer at W+K Portland. Azsa has also worked for Anomaly and CAA. Her client experience includes Nike, Visa, Old Spice, P&G, Instagram and Canada Goose.

We spent two minutes with Azsa to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Azsa tell us ...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in a little seaside town called Ventura in Southern California. I now live in Portland, Ore., with my family. In between these two places, we have also lived in NYC, Shanghai, Tokyo, Berlin and L.A.

How you first realized you were creative.

My mother was a graphic designer and my father was a skateboarder and a surfer. We were always surrounded by creativity—whether that was through art and design, skate and surf culture, or the people in our lives. But, I do have a couple of specific examples. I remember telling my mom one day in pre-school that when I grew up, I wanted to be the person who came up with the names of ice cream flavors at the ice cream shop. Also, when I was in first grade, I created a "body of artwork" and went door to door selling scribbles to my neighbors in a Radio Flyer wagon. On the side of the wagon, I taped a sign that said: CONTEMPORARY ARTWORK FOR SALE. I think I made $20 that day. After that, I kept doing stuff like that and it stuck.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

My mother! She was a graphic designer in the '80s and did a ton of cool surf logos. She inspires me to this day.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

When I was 16, I attended a weekend program at Pasadena Art Center called Saturday High. I took this class on Art Direction with the lead art director from this movie called The Cell. He showed us this book called The Journey is the Destination by Dan Eldon and had us do an assignment that changed my life. He asked us to fill an empty sketchbook with anything we wanted: writing, collage, drawings, photos. Basically a visual journal. I continued to do the assignment for 10 years. One of those books helped me get my first job as an art director at W+K.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Oh man, there are too many to list. But I gotta give my BFF a shoutout: Sarah Lannan. I also recently went to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe and my mind was blown. When it comes to music, I listen to a lot of different genres but quite obsessively. It drives my family crazy. But for whatever reason, the Charlie Brown Christmas album is a favorite no matter the season. It really saved me during the pandemic!

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Book: Klara and the Sun

Film: Triangle of Sadness

TV Show: It's a tie between Succession and FBOY Island

Your favorite fictional character.

No Face from Spirited Away!

Someone or something worth following in social media.

Any Lesbian Meme account and W+K.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

The Art of Engineering / RIMOWA and High Snobiety Press.

A recent project you're proud of. 

Baseball is Something Else.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

I would also say: 

Humble- Kendrick Lamar and ESPN, "Shake On It." 

Someone else's work you admired lately.

I would add: BEEF and Clash from the Past

Your main strength as a creative person.

Having a point of view.

Your biggest weakness.

Imposter syndrome.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Directing. A really good cup of coffee. Going to look at art. The ocean! Whoops, that's four things 

One thing that always makes you sad.

For whatever reason my brain can't properly function when things are disorganized visually. It drives me crazy.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Selling scribbles out of a Radio Flyer wagon.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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