2 Minutes With ... Robbie Cobb, Creative Director at FerebeeLane
Cobb has produced notable work for brands like Moonpie, Subway, Denny's, Airheads, Mentos, Google, AMC, John Deere, Bojangles, Disney, Verizon, BMW and Haverty's. Born and raised in the South, he honed his skills at agencies such as Tombras, EP+Co and Huge.
Cobb has won numerous industry awards, and he holds a B.A. in graphic design from Anderson University.
We spent two minutes with Robbie to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.
Robbie, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Greenville, S.C., and after bouncing around for a few years, I'm back. I went looking for a better place and never found one.
How you first realized you were creative.
The joke around my parents is that I could draw before I could walk, so it's always been a part of me in some form or another. From being in bands in high school and college to making art for friends, I have been making stuff for as long as I can remember. I never considered or even knew it was a career path until I got to college.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
I think I still idolize this person, but I remember falling in love with Charles S. Anderson's work in college and I'm still in awe. The overwhelming amount of consistency and dedication from one studio to a style is truly remarkable.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I remember walking into a friend's dorm room and seeing a design project mounted to Letramax and asking him what class that was for. He looked at me like I had two heads and said, "I'm a design major." If you had asked me in high school what I wanted to do in adulthood, I would've said—and did say—"I want to make album art for bands." So in that moment, a lightbulb went on and I understood what graphic design truly was. I had no vocabulary for it before that moment.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
I've already expressed my undying love for CSA, so I'll focus on a musician. Josh Scoggin of '68, The Chariot and Norma Jean is someone I deeply admire. I've been a fan of his projects since I was a kid. All of his music is raw, untrained and wild, but incredibly expressive and earnest. It's loud on the surface and clumsy, but meticulously considered. Everything he touches is fully human. I can't think of a better way to be. Give ’68 a listen!
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I'm in the middle of Rick Rubin's The Creative Act: a Way of Being, and that's doing the trick for me. If you're a creative person, it should be required reading.
Your favorite fictional character.
Yorick From Y The Last Man is the first thing that pops into my head. The idea of the last man on earth being a bumbling charismatic magician with a pet monkey still makes me happy. Great book by the way.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
After working in an office environment for my entire career I was forced to work from home for the first time, and that was such a blessing. I got to spend more time with my wife and son, and I found myself being far more intentional with my time. The world slowed down and I hit the brakes as well. I found the comfort of being at home far more freeing creatively than being at the office trying to force something to fruition. I would sit on Zoom for hours on end with my partner and we could both relax and come up with ideas and explore concepts with ease, without the burden of getting back to our desk. We were oddly insulated from the noise around us, and we generated a lot of work that I'm still proud of. And more importantly, I was able to enjoy my family with small breaks throughout the day. I know that was an incredibly hard time for most, so I consider myself very fortunate to be able to look back on that period fondly.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
Many moons ago I worked on Denny's social and that was one of the most fun and frantic things I've ever done. Our team was responsible for the rapid growth of the account in the early- to mid-2010s. We were fortunate and good at what we did, which in our industry, is the most exciting combination. The team grew to be incredibly fast and agile, often generating ideas at 9 a.m. and posting them by 2 p.m. the same day.
It was a dopamine-rich environment that inspired the team to try for the funniest, wildest and smartest ideas possible. I'm still incredibly proud of all the folks who worked on that business. I know I'm a better creative because of the rapid pace and freedom of that account. On top of all the silly GIFs and goofy ideas, some of the larger activations were always fun. This is a personal favorite.
A recent project you're proud of.
The project I’m most excited about at the moment is currently in development and I can't tell you anything about it. I wish I could, but you'll have to just keep an ear to the ground. That being said, the work our team has done for Cataloochee and Canoe Place is truly inspiring.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
The work of Harold Einstein comes up as a reference for me all the time. I recognize a Harold spot every time I see one. His work for Kayak and Little Caesars lives rent free in my head. His mix of absurdity and deadpan delivery is just the best. Beyond delightful.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
MSCHF doesn't miss.
Your main strength as a creative person.
I don't know if everyone would agree with this. My teammates might even be annoyed by it. My greatest strength is my singular pursuit of, "we can't do that, can we?" ideas. In order to get to those moments you have to generate a lot of really stupid, audacious and even silly ideas, and then walk them back to a meaningful place. That's where human truth is. Give me a goofy metaphor for a human problem, and I'll never forget it. I'm always looking for those moments. Those are the ideas with breakthrough potential.
Your biggest weakness.
I'm a tinkerer. I can't help it. I noodle until I can’t fix anything else or I'm bored to pieces. If I get to the bored place then I start over. It's a very bad creative process.
One thing that always makes you happy.
Playing outside with my son. I can be having the worst day but if I'm throwing a football or shooting hoops with him, nothing else matters.
One thing that always makes you sad.
Unmet potential. When you know you or somebody you care about phoned it in—there's no deeper darkness.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
I'd probably be missing some fingers in a woodshop somewhere.