2 Minutes With … Marcus Liwag, Creative Director at Iris Worldwide
Marcus Liwag is a creative director at Iris Worldwide in New York. He still considers himself a Floridian even though he can technically be considered a New Yorker. He is a Miami Ad School graduate who loves burgers, dogs and superheroes. Marcus has worked on top brands including Samsung, Adidas, Coty, SiriusXM and Jeep.
We spent two minutes with Marcus to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.
Marcus, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Largo, Florida, and currently live in New York City.
How you first realized you were creative.
I think it was around when I discovered comic books (X-Men) and anime (Pokémon and Sailor Moon) and started drawing my favorite characters that I started tapping into my more artistic creative side.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
I was into comic books growing up—mostly for the art, but the stories were also very important to me—and I just remember being obsessed with Stan Lee and the worlds and characters he created.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I discovered Photoshop in high school and it changed everything for me. The possibilities of things I could do and the way I could manipulate images or create something out of nothing was very exciting and set me on the path I'm on now.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
I've always been obsessed with Janet Jackson. Her All for You tour was my very first concert, and it was absolutely amazing. I've always admired her for her music and also the presentation of her music in videos and concerts. I've never missed a concert when she comes to New York, and she is still to this day absolutely amazing.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I'm going to stray a little bit and call out a game I just started playing that I'm slightly obsessed with called Hades. Whenever I play games, I'm always fascinated by the level of detail and thought that goes into the story and the graphics. It's amazing and inspiring when you stop and realize it was someone's job to not only animate the big things but also the small things like the way a wall is destroyed or the way the camera pulls out to show the environment. I really get inspired by that attention to detail.
Your favorite fictional character.
Jessica Huang from Fresh Off the Boat. Constance Wu created such an amazing character, and there are so many things about that character that reminds me of my family and even me. #representationmatters
Someone or something worth following in social media.
@pino.the.corgi. I follow an obscene number of corgis on Instagram because they make me smile, which is exactly what you need in the world we live in.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
I think the pandemic expedited my transition into becoming someone who would rather stay at home than go out. We've all seen the memes comparing going out in our 20s to going out in our 30s, and I think the fact that I couldn't actually go out for two years in New York accelerated the process. Professionally, it's changed the way I look at work. I love going into the office and talking to people in person and brainstorming in a room and all of those things. But I also appreciate the flexibility of working from home and being able to bring people together who aren't in the same space.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
One of my favorite projects was a training program for Samsung where we created an '80s hair metal band named Galactic Lazer Stallion and they sang songs about the new device. We created full songs and music videos, as well as a bunch of training material to help sales reps learn about the phone in a fun way. We had some amazing clients on this project, and it was the most fun I've ever had with my team.
A recent project you're proud of.
In 2021, we created the holiday spot for Winn-Dixie—a grocery store chain in the Southeast—and I'm really proud of how we were able to push the brand to do something different, despite the fact that Covid was still in full swing and everyone was putting out advertising that was focused on pulling on heartstrings. We wanted to make people smile and take a break from the heaviness of the world with a little grocery store musical number. We managed to shoot it all in two days with an incredible cast of twin performers, and I'm very proud of how my team was able to pull everything together.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
I remember being obsessed with what Si Scott was doing when I first started getting into design. His style and his approach to type and illustrations really changed the way I looked at my work and inspired me to want to create art, not ads.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
Field Trip to Mars by Framestore is still a concept that blows me away. The ability to make that experience come to life for these kids is truly remarkable, and seeing the direct impact of that experience on those kids' faces is what I want my work to do.
Your main strength as a creative person.
I'm very detail-oriented, and my head often gets into the logistics very quickly. I used to be told this prevented me from thinking big, but I've learned that one should not be separate from the other, and an amazing idea can fall flat if its execution or experience are poorly thought out.
Your biggest weakness.
I think that my biggest weakness is that I believe I can do it all. So it's hard for me to let things go or delegate.
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.
Owning an indoor batting cage in Florida.
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.