2 Minutes With … Jouke Vuurmans, CCO at MediaMonks

His 15-year journey and obsession with craft

Jouke joined MediaMonks as the first creative Monk when MySpace was still a thing. After 15 years gaining recognition as an art director, creative director and global executive creative director, Jouke was named chief creative officer in January, leading creative for one of the top digital production partners worldwide. 

He has worked on over 100 award-winning projects across the digital spectrum. We spent two minutes with Jouke to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he'd admired.

Jouke, tell us ...

The town where you were born, and where you live now.

I was born in Nederhorst den Berg, 15 minutes outside Amsterdam. Currently in Brooklyn.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

A pilot. 

How you discovered you were creative.

My mom is very creative, so I think I first experienced creativity from her. And I've always liked drawing—I discovered my own creativity through that art form as a kid. A little later, around age 11, I started taking an annual trip to Spain to stay with my uncle, who is a painter. The solo trip was an exercise of creativity and self-discovery, and it was the first time I was really immersed in the arts—painting, music. I knew it resonated with me, I was good at it, and wanted to pursue it. 

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

My aforementioned uncle! Completely committed to creativity as a constant life journey, he taught me to relentlessly pursue whatever creativity might look like for me. 

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

In high school, I was preparing for my finals before university and there's quite a bit of pressure there near the end, studying for a culmination of classes and programs that had nothing to do with advertising school—math and science. I already knew I wanted to pursue a creative career and had chosen to go to advertising school. Long story short, due to a mix-up in my high school curriculum, it turned out I had missed the one class that would have been relevant for me. So when the school realized near the end, they said, "OK, you can take the exam," but I hadn't taken the class all year, I didn't follow any of it. So I had a week to prepare, and luckily I passed. It didn't change my life, but it could have.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

First concert was Michael Jackson. Current-day favorite is (still) Guns N' Roses ... and more recently Phoenix.  

Your favorite visual artist.

I'm biased, but I love the Monks—check out Deep Thoughts, and @mediamonksanimation and @mediamonksillustration are really nice follows.

Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction.

I don't really do fiction or heroes. I've never been into Marvel. I prefer real heroes. 

The best book you've read lately.

At least in the last five months, I haven't read a single book. I still have to say Miffy by Dick Bruna, my recommendation for parents who are into graphic design. Books are for post-Covid, in a new world … or maybe when I retire. 

Your favorite movie.

Her. On second thought, that's fiction—so maybe I do do fiction. 

Your favorite Instagram follow.

Instagram, another thing I don't do a ton of in Covid. I'm restoring a 1971 Porsche 911 with my brother, so I really like to get inspired or to dream on. If you want to know how the restoration is going, ask my brother. We've been working on it for more than a year. But I'm also fascinated by Olafur Eliasson's Instagram.

How the Covid-19 crisis has changed your life, personally or professionally, in recent months.

What personal life? No, it didn't change my life, but it allowed me to discover that we can adapt, need to adapt, need to grow, need to evolve. The wakeup moment. We have been doing that for years, but it's really good to see that we can evolve and stay relevant and come out of this as winners. 

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.

This is a tough one. It's an old one, but I think I'd have to go with "The Breakthrough" for Desperados—because I think it was actually a breakthrough for MediaMonks. It was our first proper international success. We broke YouTube by mimicking their interface, and we're not allowed to do that ever again—they've updated their terms of use. It's a testament to our ambition as a team, it signaled the start of interactive film for us. It meant a lot to us and gave us the visibility we needed to win a lot of great work.

Desperados | The Breakthrough
Your favorite creative project from the past year.

More recently, I love our work for Aeroméxico. We broke the industry mold by using the airline's app and website to deliver a creatively differentiated experience that drives emotional impact. Born from the belief that traveling is about people more so than the destination, "People Are the Places" lets travelers experience locales like never before—through the people actually living there. It was a great collaboration between Aeroméxico's in-house team, MediaMonks and our partners at Google.

Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

I need to go with The Wilderness Downtown from B-reel and Arcade Fire. But a close second would be Adidas Teamgeist from North Kingdom. Those two companies inspired me in the early days of my career to push our craft and creativity.

Someone else's creative project you've been impressed by lately.

There's not one specific project, but all the work Spotify does—super nice visually, greatly connected, really great use of channels, user behavior and their own product. It's modern and technologically integrated—really does everything really well. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

I identify opportunities in everything. Opportunities to find solutions for challenges, opportunities in briefs, opportunities when creative ideas come up, opportunities with talent. I'm always focused on the opportunity, never the restrictions or the negatives. I'm optimistic. 

Your weakness or blind spot.

I don't have one. 😉

One thing that always makes you happy.

Craft. Professionally, obviously craft in design and creative work. But also personally, craft in food, music, cars, houses, coffee, you name it. I get happy and excited when I see someone putting a lot of love and effort into details.

One thing that always makes you sad.

When people in our industry take themselves too seriously. I think that results in breakdown in collaboration, empathy—all the things that make what we do really fun.

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

Flying a plane or rocking a stage. 

2 Minutes With is our weekly 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.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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