2 Minutes With … Jillian Dresser, CD at Walrus

On the importance of how to present yourself with your work

Jillian is a creative director with more than 15 years of experience, primarily at Walrus NYC. Earlier, she worked at Silver + Partners and freelanced for Droga5, 72andSunny and Barton F Graf.

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

Jillian, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Wisconsin, but I have lived in and around New York City for so long that my midwestern accent is starting to erode.

How you first realized you were creative.

When I was 3 or 4, I was obsessed with the signage on storefronts. I loved the shapes and sizes of the letters, the design, the colors. I didn't know there was such a thing as graphic design, but I knew I needed to be part of whatever created these images. 

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Jim Henson. I watched The Muppet Show and Sesame Street every day of my childhood. The fact that he was able to create these characters by hand that were endearing, but also really wry, opened up a new world for me about what entertainment could be. 

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

A friend from graphic design class in college asked me to go to an advertising club meeting. We didn't have an ad program at the University of Wisconsin, but this particular club talked about marketing as a career path. The free pizza trumped my reluctance to go. I ended up being enthralled by the speaker. I believe he was a creative director from an agency in Chicago. I thought: "Yes, this is it. This is the thing I need to be doing."

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Billie Eilish. She's so young and yet so sure of herself as an artist. Plus, she made a Grammy-winning album entirely in her bedroom. Also, as someone who is an introvert with a soft speaking voice, it's nice to know that you don't have to be the loudest person in the room to be recognized. 

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


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

Working with director Harold Einstein on a Super Bowl spot for CarMax was a career high. Recreating that spot using puppies for the Puppy Bowl was pretty good, too.

A recent project you're proud of.

We just finished this campaign for Lowes Foods' clean-ingredient line of products called "Brown Bag." The products are super basic, so we used the most natural spokesperson: a girl who is totally basic

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Washington Mutual made this campaign years ago that still has my heart. It confirms that you can make funny work for any client. Every part of it is fun. Even the part where the banker explains the product.

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

Everything that Meow Wolf creates, for me, is everything advertising should be.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I'm terrified of letting anyone down. 

Your biggest weakness.

I'm terrified of letting anyone down. 

A mentor that helped you navigate the industry.

When I was in grad school and getting my book together for interviews, I got some criticism from a mentor in the industry about how I presented myself. I had these little stories and cartoons that I thought were flip and funny. She wanted me to take them out. In hindsight, I should have listened. She said: "In order for others to take you seriously, you need to present yourself seriously." It's a bit of a trap to think that because you want to do work that is funny, you need to present yourself in an unserious manner.

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

I'd be an old lady in the Italian countryside who tends a garden and grows vegetables for a local restaurant.

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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