2 Minutes With ... Danny Alvarez, ECD at GUT
Throughout his career, he has worked at top agencies such as Wieden + Kennedy, TBWA\Chiat\Day, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, BBDO and David on brands including Budweiser, Kraft-Heinz and Burger King. His work on Burger King's "Bullying Jr." campaign gathered over 3 billion impressions online in a matter of days, and created one of the most social conversations ever for the brand. The film is also now part of MoMA's permanent film collection.
As an artist, where he goes by Dan Alva, he spends his time creating fine art pieces and has exhibited his personal work at a number of national and international shows, most notably the prestigious Art Basel fair. A Miami native, Alvarez attended the Art Institute of Miami, where he studied graphic design and advertising.
We spent two minutes with Danny to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.
Danny, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Miami. I bounced around a bit from New York to Amsterdam, but I'm back in Miami and here for good. I still haven't lost my Miami accent. It's a real thing.
What you wanted to be when you grew up.
I was actually really into windsurfing when I was younger, and even was a certified instructor by 16. I had this entire plan of moving to Hawaii and going pro—then I thought more about the sharks.
How you realized you were creative.
Film. Before digital, I picked up a used, beat-up film camera and discovered the world of photography, and fell in love with the darkroom process.
A person you idolized creatively growing up.
My old man. He had me at a really old age and was retired, which gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him when I was young. I grew up in the garage working with him on little projects. That's where I learned how to create things with my hands.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I took photography in school and had this one teacher who would rip people apart who shot average and expected photographs. Her push really got me thinking beyond the average shot when it comes to framing, depth of field and content.
A visual artist you admire.
I'm a huge Damien Hirst fan. There are so many strong opinions about him, but from a business standpoint, there is a reason why he is who he is. He is all about the concept; it's irrelevant who actually makes the work.
A band or musician you love.
I appreciate it all, as I have tremendous respect for musicians and what they do. Personally, I grew up with Miami bass and Miami freestyle—it's a genre of sorts.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I'm not really into TV, but I have watched all 32 seasons of Cops, America's first reality show.
Someone worth following on Instagram.
If you ever want some New York nostalgia, follow @sidetalknyc. It's the voice of the streets.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
Since the pandemic started, I've actually experienced a lot of success in my art career since collectors have been at home wanting to upgrade their walls a bit, so I'm thankful for that. And as for my life in advertising, what I really miss the most is the office culture and working together in person with my team.
Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.
Burger King's "Burning Stores" is one of my favorite projects in recent years because of its simplicity, and it reminded creatives that print is not dead.
A recent project you're proud of.
Mid-pandemic, I shipped off a few paintings to Galerie LeRoyer in Montreal. I overpromised on my delivery date and had to pull some all-nighters to get everything done.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
Porsche commercials are what got me into advertising, I've always wanted to shoot a spot for them.
Someone else's work that you admired lately.
Looking back, Coke's Happiness Factory is one of those campaigns that will never get old for me. The art direction blew me away, and every time I watch it I catch something new. Ironically, I met John Norman at W+K Amsterdam years later and still text with him today about art-related stuff.
A main strength of yours as a creative person.
I always like to jump in and support our teams when possible, no matter the role I serve. For example, I still love knocking out some comps from time to time. It helps keep those Photoshop shortcuts fresh.
Your biggest weakness.
One thing that always makes you happy.
The art studio has always been my safe place, but I'm really starting to like gardening and taking care of plants. I always saw it as a retirement hobby, but it's hit 40 years early.
One thing that always makes you sad.
Lint on black T-shirts.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
Designing fashion house window storefronts. I always found it interesting. They are forever rotating concepts and are basically branded art installations.