2 Minutes With … Kevin Frank, ECD at LinkedIn Creative Studio
Kevin Frank is executive creative director of LinkedIn Creative Studio. In the past five years, he has transformed his team into a finely-tuned creative machine that made the Ad Age Best Places to Work list for two years running and helped the company land a spot on the Interbrand and BrandZ Top Global Brands lists.
Before LinkedIn, Kevin was a creative director at Apple, where he led the team that created marketing in Apple Stores worldwide: the panels, the posters, the signs, the events, the website—the works. When the Apple Retail Store and the Apple Online Store were merged together, his role shifted to run the team that integrated the whole experience online. He later returned to his advertising roots, creating interactive campaigns around Apple's products and values.
He has also held roles at FCB, Venables Bell & Partners and Buder Engel & Friends.
We spent two minutes with Kevin to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.
Kevin, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts. Which is notable if you're into American history, but otherwise standard suburban fare. After stints in Colorado, Chicago, and L.A., I moved to San Francisco in 1999. It felt like home from the moment I stepped off the plane, and I feel lucky to have found my place in the world here.
How you first realized you were creative.
I've always loved being creative, so I can't say I remember a specific moment. But I do remember when I realized I wanted to be a creative. I was pre-med in college, and did all the bio, chemistry and physics to get ready for med school. I even took the MCAT. Luckily, I decided to take a year (or three) off and got a job as a ski instructor. That's when I realized I could get paid to do something I really loved, and what I really loved was being creative.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
Luke Sullivan. Not just because he wrote the book on how to be creative, but because he wrote me a letter with detailed feedback when I was looking for my first job. I've never forgotten that kindness, so I still always take time to give up-and-comers feedback. And I still have Luke's letter.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
My 9th grade English teacher, Ms. Kineen, taught me the joy of creative writing. One of her assignments was to write and present a dramatic monologue, and I did mine from the point of view of my dog. Instead of coming down on me for not going the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" route, Ms. Kineen encouraged and praised my different perspective. Though, in retrospect, a dog doing Hamlet would have been pretty excellent.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
My bandmate Ari Vais has been pursuing his dream of making it in an indie band for 30 years and has never given up. That kind of persistence is legendary.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I recently listened to an episode of 99% Invisible that explored the origins of The Real Book, an illegal book of jazz standards that you could only buy out of the back of someone's car. I love learning that kind of secret history. Even better, I was surprised to hear my high school jazz teacher Jeff Leonard on the podcast, so I reached out and reconnected with him.
Your favorite fictional character.
Eric Cartman. He is always true to his nature.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
Everyone who's part of the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program, naturally. They're leading conversations about the evolving world of work, and expanding the range of topics that are considered professional.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
I am grateful every day that the pandemic didn't change my life in any irreversible way. My family is all healthy and vaccinated, everyone who wants to be employed is employed, and our mental health is all relatively intact.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
When I led the Global Retail team at Apple, we did an installation to announce the opening of the new store in Grand Central. We built a working solari board out of Mac Minis and Apple monitors, and it flipped through dozens of lines like "Drop your Mac off at 8:42, pick it up at 6:29" and "Only one bar in Grand Central has Geniuses." It was a perfect alignment of technology, media, design and culture. And I'll always have a soft spot for smart headlines.
A recent project you're proud of.
We recently launched a new campaign that redefines what it means to be a professional. Being professional is not just about what you do for work, but how you act at work—how you treat other people, how you show up, and how you prioritize. It's a strategic direction that I've been pushing to take the company for a while, and I believe it's going to lead to a lot of powerful work.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. He effortlessly manages to be simple, clear, emotional, conversational, humorous and a whole lot of other adjectives all at the same time. His style heavily influenced an introduction letter I wrote to Paul Venables, which landed me a job as the first copywriter at Venables Bell.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
Oriel Davis-Lyons. He founded the ONE School, a free program for Black creatives to help them develop their portfolios. Our industry talks a lot about diversity, and I admire that Oriel is taking meaningful action.
Your main strength as a creative person.
I don't push my own ideas on my team. I hired them because they're experts at what they do, and because they have better ideas than I do. I always try to give clear feedback that I believe will make their work stronger, but I never bring my own ideas to the table.
Your biggest weakness.
Taking creative feedback too personally (said every creative person ever).
One thing that always makes you happy.
My daughter. Surfing. Surfing with my daughter.
One thing that always makes you sad.
The politicization of science.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
I've always enjoyed teaching—as a ski instructor, as an ad school instructor, and arguably, as a creative leader. I'd look for opportunities to be a teacher and a mentor.