2 Minutes With … Wain Choi, CCO of BLKW

On simplifying complicated problems

Wain is the owner and chief creative officer at BLKW. He has worked across North America, Europe and Asia and held CCO roles at Dentsu Brussels, Ogilvy Korea, Cheil Worldwide and Zulu Alpha Kilo. Wain has worked with brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Uniqlo, GM, Toyota and Samsung.

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

Wain, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born in Seoul and moved to Toronto when I was nine years old. After 17 years of living between Brussels and Seoul, I moved back to Toronto four years ago.

How you first realized you were creative.

I'll give credit to my wife—who was my girlfriend at the time—for pushing me to go to OCAD for advertising. That's when I realized, "Hey I can actually do this and I'm not that bad."

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Neville Brody. I never realized what you can do with typography until I saw his work.

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

Switching my major from business to fine arts.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Roy Orbison. His songs are from his heart. They have soul.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

My very first Nike print ad, "Left Foot of Theoren Fleury" (former NHL player). I only had a couple of days to produce this ad. I asked all my favorite photographers if they could do it. They all turned it down due to lack of time except for Curtis Lantinga. We bought a left prothetic foot that was the same size as Theo's. Then we went to a butcher shop and asked the butcher to slice it in half and vacuum pack it just like a piece of meat—and to put on a label on it. I loved the whole journey.

A recent project you're proud of.

Green Screen Shirt for Harry Rosen. This shirt may be the most versatile ever in the 67 years of Harry Rosen's existence. 

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

Sony Bravia, "Balls." A simple idea to demonstrate that Sony has color like no other with 250,000 bouncing balls. Everything was shot in camera. No CGI. A great idea from Juan Cabrel and director Nicolai Fugslig, and a perfect track from José González. A simple idea executed flawlessly.

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

I was judging One Show and "Missing Matoaka" caught my attention. To fight stereotypes, they created an alternative audio track for Disney's Pocahontas. Rewritten by Indigenous writers, they corrected the story and the character's name.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Simplifying complicated problems and adding humanity.

Your biggest weakness.


A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

Brad Riddoch. He was one of my earliest creative directors who gave me advice that was simple to understand. I loved his approach.

How you're paying it forward with the next generation of creatives.

I always give my time to young creatives who seek me out.

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

A high school teacher, teaching art and gym.

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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