2 Minutes With ... Stan Richards, Founder and Creative Director at The Richards Group

His creative journey, from Herschel Levit to Chick-fil-A

Photo illustration: Ashley Epping

Stan founded The Richards Group as a freelance practice after graduating from Pratt Institute, and it became a full-service agency in 1976. The shop has remained fiercely independent, despite overtures from holding companies over the years. In 2017, Richards told AdAge he'd "watched a hundred agencies be acquired" and concluded: "I cannot name one that got better."

Richards has been elected to the Art Directors Hall of Fame and the Advertising Hall of Fame. The University of Texas renamed its nationally recognized advertising program the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations.

Stan enjoys skiing in Utah and fly-fishing the backwaters of Laguna Madre. He is also an avid runner, having logged 45,000 miles. 

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

Stan, tell us... 

The town where you were born.

I was born in Philadelphia. My parents named me Stanford. I have no idea why.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

I always knew I wanted to be an artist. When I was a little kid, I drew constantly, and my mother thought I was really good. When I was 10, I started taking painting and drawing classes at Temple University on Saturdays. I would have preferred to be playing stickball with my friends. 

How you discovered you were creative.

Being creative wasn't a discovery. It was a given.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

My idol was Herschel Levit at Pratt, an extraordinary teacher of design.

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

In high school, I took a course called Commercial Art. Until then, I thought I would be a gallery painter. That was the moment when I realized I could do what I loved and be paid handsomely for doing it. 

The first concert you saw.

Pete Seeger at the Village Vanguard in New York. It triggered a lifelong love of folk music.

Your favorite artist.

My favorite artist was and is Franz Kline.

The best book you've read lately.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Your favorite movie.

All That Jazz.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why. 

My favorite is our 21 years of the cow campaign for Chick-fil-A. It changed a category, helped build a great brand, and made hundreds of millions of people smile.

Chick-Fil-A | Betrayal
Your favorite creative project from the past year, and why.

My favorite of this past year is a spot welcoming spring for Hobby Lobby.

Spring Is What You Make It | Hobby Lobby
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

The glory days of Doyle Dane Bernbach. 

Someone else's creative project that you've been envious of lately.

The body of work for Nike.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Finding great young talent, giving them sound guidance, and keeping them for a long time. 

Your weakness or blind spot. 

People may say that my glasses are a little too rosy-colored. And I'm OK with that.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Seeing great work come out of this organization that I had absolutely nothing to do with.

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

I'd probably be busking with my guitar and five-string banjo on a subway platform somewhere in New York City.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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