2 Minutes With … Norm Brown, Creative Director at Saatchi L.A.

On self-expression and fighting for Black representation in leadership roles

Norm Brown is a creative director (digital content) at Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles. His projects are oriented to the experimentation and implementation of Swiss design with a personal and contemporary aesthetic. With a background in graphic design and mixed media, his work brings a wide range of artistic craft into the field of brand communication.

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

Norm, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in the South Bay and currently live in Los Angeles.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

I didn't know exactly what I wanted to be growing up. My mother worked in advertising, so I was exposed to the industry at a very early age. I remember hanging out with her at all of the cool ad shops she worked at in the early '80s and thinking, "This is cool." All I knew is that it had to be something creative.

How you discovered you were creative.

I didn't actually think I was creative, but I liked the idea of self-expression. I spent a lot of time alone and lived in my head a lot. I was enrolled to take these teen design classes at ArtCenter during high school, but I still wasn't sure.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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

While in college, I realized I could actually make a career as a designer.

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

Michael Jackson, Reunion Tour. I don't have a favorite band. I listen to a lot of old-school hip hop.

Your favorite visual artist.

Stefan Sagmeister.

Your favorite fictional character.

Spock. I'm a logical thinker.

The best book you've read lately.

The Art of Being Yourself.

Your favorite movie.

Pulp Fiction.

Your favorite Instagram follow.

Design, nature, architecture, furniture.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

Being a Black man or woman in America comes with many challenges. I myself have been a victim of police abuse and dealt with the racial biases of being Black in advertising. Progress has been made, but the work isn't done. I'm fighting for there to be more Black representation not just in junior, mid or senior level but also in leadership roles.

The pandemic has given me a new POV on what is important in life—family, friendship, love, people, and career, in that order. I'm still in the process of growth, discovery, and what my next five years look like. I want to create meaningful work that is positive.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.

This would be my personal work. It's a place I get to self-express my ideas without anyone holding me back creatively. It is things that I want to make and see. It helps me feel inspired and creative outside of work.

A recent creative project you're proud of.

I recently worked on a project that focuses on the deep-rooted issue of racism. This is currently being finalized.

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

Dave Chappelle returning to standup.

Someone else's creative project that you admired lately.

LeBron James, The Shop: Uninterrupted and Emmanuel Acho, Uncomfortable Conversation with a Black Man.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Being humble and a student in your craft. Never feel like you have mastered your skill. There is always room to improve.

Your biggest weakness.

Bullshitting.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Being with my son, connecting with nature, and seeing the world.

One thing that always makes you sad.

To see people who look like me being treated unfairly and abused.

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

Photography, teaching, traveling, living somewhere in the forest.

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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