2 Minutes With … Diego Tórgo, VP and CD at Area 23

On 'Mind's Eye' and always being adaptable

Diego has held senior positions in advertising for 20 years, working on three different continents. He is currently VP and CD at Area 23 in NYC, leading The Refinery, a division specializing in art direction, craft and design. Before that, he worked at FCB Lisbon. 

We spent two minutes with Diego to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Diego, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Before calling myself Brazilian, I would say I'm "gaúcho," because I grew up in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul. It's the southernmost state of Brazil. I'm currently living in Park Ridge, N.J. Now, I usually say I'm a New Jersey dad.

How you first got interested in health.

A few years ago, I started to have an internal conflict about the purpose of my work. I saw the possibility of expanding the scope of my creativity and collaborating more directly in improving people's lives. What could be more rewarding than seeing your work help save lives?

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

Portuguese (Re)Constitution. It was a blackout poetry book illustrated over the text of the Portuguese fascist constitution of 1933. It's an ode to freedom and art made with lots of love, together with Penguin Random House, awesome poets and illustrators, and my friend Viton Araújo. This was my last project in Portugal and was born from the desire to give something good back to the country I was living in.

A recent project you're proud of.

"Mind's Eye" is the first AI art expression tool for people with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). It was a beautiful app project for Smartbox that gave thousands of people with communication difficulties the opportunity to express themselves. And "Everything They Didn't Tell You," where we hacked the most famous pregnancy book and turned it into a powerful health guide for Black moms.

One thing about how health is evolving that you're excited about.

It is clear that the creative quality is improving a lot. There are many projects with awesome ideas, and a high level of craft and technology emerging in health. It's an industry that is pushing creative limits. 

Someone else's work, in health or beyond, that you admired lately.

In health, Tim Hawkey, Tim Jones, Eduardo Tavares, Renata Maia, Viton Araújo, Collette Douaihy and many extraordinary people from Area 23. In consumer, the list is even longer. I will focus on the female professionals that I greatly admire: Bianca Guimarães, Ioana Filip, Natalie Lam, Keka Morelle, Susan Credle, Shayne Millington, Cristina Reina, Luciana Cani and Juliana Paracencio.

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

When it comes to creativity, it's very difficult not to recommend the book The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin. And The Bear is the best thing to see on streaming.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

As a teenager of the '90s, my rock n’ roll roots are strong. Now, I tend to listen a lot to the masters of jazz and soul. In visual arts, I'm the opposite. I admire the masters, obviously, but nowadays I love discovering new artists. Instagram is a good place to find talented people like Sofia Bonati, Julia Lillard, Raymond Lenstra, Ben Ashton, Karolis Strautniekas and many others.

Your favorite fictional character.

Anyone my son is in love with. At the moment it's Spider-Man.

Someone worth following on social media.

Zain Kahn. I also advise you to subscribe to his newsletter, Superhuman.

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

As a Brazilian, I am very adaptable. I worked for years with few resources in the south of Brazil, but was always seeking to do work with the quality of what I saw around the world. That's why I say that the difference between working in an agency in Porto Alegre or in New York is the size of the budget. Plus, I think I'm an easy person to work with. I care a lot about the environment and the people around me.

Your biggest weakness.

Definitely procrastination. But I always deliver work on time, which is important.

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

Consumer advertising. Or working with design. Or retired. I like all three options. 

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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