2 Minutes With ... Devon Hong, Executive Creative Director at 360i
Devon Hong joined 360i last November as executive creative director, leading creative on 7-Eleven. He previously spent three years at 72andSunny New York, where he led the celebrated Etsy holiday work, among many other campaigns.
Prior to 72, Devon rose from art director to creative director over a four-year span at Droga5. His other work over the years has including artful, inventive work for Spotify, Cheerios, Smirnoff and Uniqlo.
We spent two minutes with Devon to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.
Devon, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I was born on Hong Kong Island and now I live on Manhattan Island.
What you wanted to be when you grew up.
I didn't have one specific occupation, but at a very young age I wanted to be someone who said "No" "No" "Yes" "No" to things. I guess it worked out?
How you discovered you were creative.
I don't know if there was one pivotal moment, but I used to be obsessed with making up superhero teams. There was one that was a team of rhythmic gymnasts using their apparatus as weapons. Related: I knew I was gay at a very young age.
A person you idolized creatively growing up.
The late Eiko Ishioka. The best art director of all time. She designed packaging, costumes, sets and an iconic ad featuring Faye Dunaway eating a hard boiled egg for a minute and a half.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I got a job in college working in the Toronto porn industry. It paid for college and taught me everything I needed to know about design and production.
The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.
First concert: Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope Tour. Nosebleed section. Favorite band: Magnetic Fields. Singing confidently and slightly off key is my jam.
Your favorite visual artist.
I'm not sure if fashion design is considered visual arts in the traditional sense, but I love the simplicity and thoughtfulness of Issey Miyaki and the exuberance and whimsy of Elsa Schiaparelli.
Your favorite fictional character.
Divine in any John Waters film. I don't think she counts as fictional, but the line is a little blurry when it comes to drag.
The best book you've read lately.
I will always love reading Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin.
Your favorite movie.
In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai.
Your favorite Instagram follow.
@uglydesign. An endless stream of WTF things from around the world.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
I like to think I'm pretty adaptable as a person, so candidly it hasn't really affected me as deeply as many others. I'm thankful I have a job that didn't put me at risk of the virus, and that my loved ones have remained safe. I've felt rather lucky. The one drawback is that I'm an extreme extrovert. I love the exchange of creative energy between people that you can't replicate on Zoom. But the flipside of that is that it's forced me to get better at providing clear feedback and practicing more patience at work.
Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.
My favorite project is one I did for Cheerios called "Right on Tracks." It's a series of sing-alongs to teach kids empathy, during a time we had a bully for a president. Walter Martin of The Walkmen wrote and performed all these charming tracks and my dear friend Johnny Kelly brought them to life with puppets.
A recent creative project you're proud of.
We just launched a new brand campaign for 7-Eleven called "Take It to Eleven." It was so exciting to build on a brand that evoked so many memories. From hanging out in the parking lot after school to late-night munchie runs, 7-Eleven is a cultural touchpoint that transcends demographics. It's sort of how we got to the work, actually, using all the eccentric people who show up at a 7-Eleven to promote the simple pleasures of a Slurpee, coffee and Big Gulp.
I also feel very lucky to have worked with the most "eleven" of directors, Harmony Korine. I've been a huge fan of his work, and this was truly a dream.
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.
I didn't fall in love with advertising until I saw the Hans Brinker Hotel campaigns by KesselsKramer. Especially the posters by Anthony Burrill. The strategy was to position the hotel as the worst hotel in the world so everything you get is a step up. It was such a playful approach. This prankster energy is something that I try to bring into every project.
Someone else's creative project that you admired lately.
I'm forever obsessed with this bunch of commercials for Sakeru Gummy. To advertise their Long gummy they made the commercial serialized so people actually looked forward to the next ad. Like, when has that ever happened?
Your main strength as a creative person.
I'll be the first person to admit I'm no different creatively to an intern. But if I had one strength, it is the desire to find what people are good at and give them the space to succeed in their own way.
Your biggest weakness.
My biggest weakness is timesheets. Close behind is being more selective about how I spend my creative energy. I'm an eternal optimist, so I have a harder time homing in on the opportunity in front of me. I want to make everything great.
Working smarter, not harder, wasn't necessarily something my immigrant parents instilled in me. So while I love that they taught me to put my head down and get the job done, I have to remind myself to take a step back and reset.
One thing that always makes you happy.
One thing that always makes you sad.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
2 Minutes With is our weekly interview series, publishing every Wednesday, 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.