Reinventions: Gabs Samame

'Every decision to reinvent is not a start from scratch, but one more step up the mountain'

Reinventions profiles people who've made big pivots. Meet Gabs Samame, who left her social media career in Peru to return to school, and became a New York art director. Since then, she's co-founded a boutique agency and developed a nifty tabletop game.

What were you before?

I started my career in Peru in the social media arena, creating content at Nextperience, an important South American advertising agency. I worked for some of the agency's most important clients such Volvo and Tondero, the massively successful entertainment production company. There I got the opportunity to work on the campaign for the movie Av. Larco, which trended No. 1 in the country.

Afterwards, I joined another large agency, MullenLowe 511, where I worked as a community manager overseeing social media campaigns for the Peruvian arm of Makro, the international wholesaler with over 100 stores internationally. I left a successful career in Peru to attend a professional program at Miami Ad School to pivot to art direction.

What triggered your reinvention(s)?

I love the idea of evolving, learning and growing, no matter how big or small the reinvention is. I try to stay on a path of evolution; a lot of times, this means leaving my comfort zone. Over the course of my career I have pushed my boundaries in a number of different ways. First, I began handling the accounts of progressively larger clients. Second, I developed more ambitious campaigns. And third, I plunged into projects for international markets and different industries. 

My last reinvention—the creation of Commercial Break, a tabletop game by and for advertising professionals—was triggered by the pandemic. I'm always seeking to discover more.

What did the first steps look like?

I worked with my personal coach to set goals for the year, and compiled a list of steps needed to achieve these goals. Each item was a small reinvention. Miami Ad School played a big role: from deciding to apply, to leaving Peru at the peak of my career, to relocating to New York.

The last three years have given me space to discover new territory within my career as a creative and as a person. The change in perspective is palpable in my designs and the projects I have taken on, as well as the risks I am now willing to take, such as the launch of a table game.

What was one hard obstacle to overcome?

There were many different kinds of obstacles. These range from being the target of discriminatory comments and actions, to creative blocks and feeling overtaxed. I learned to overcome hardships and push through. I am definitely not the same person who started this path.

What was easier than you thought?

Looking back, some things seem easier in retrospect, through they were a big sacrifice as I was about to take the plunge. Leaving the comfort of a stable personal and professional life to forge a new path in a new country comes to mind. It was a difficult decision, but it feels more worthwhile over time.  

What's something you learned along the way that other people, hoping to do something similar, should know?

I learned to choose the projects I want to be part of. I've learned to give and receive feedback, and realized feedback is often subjective. Learning to choose what advice to take to heart is healthy for the preservation of one's artistic integrity, while realizing there is always something new to learn. 

Did anyone or anything inspire you along the way?

My mother and brother are always pushing me to go out of my comfort zone to achieve what I have in mind. They also lead by example, constantly taking courses to learn new skills. I have also worked with and learned from a number of creatives who have inspired me on my new path and helped me to confidently define my personal style. 

What has this fundamentally changed for you?

The pursuit of a career in art direction required a complete change for me: from the place I call home, to the language I speak every day, to how I approach design projects and advertising campaigns. I put my whole being into this change. As I gained exposure to different aspects of advertising, I became more aware of areas I want to develop further in my craft and gave myself freedom to pursue unconventional projects and ideas.

Do you think you could go back/do you want to?

While things could change in the future, I don't want to go back because I have changed. I could jump into social media for a project if I had to, but my passion now lies in art direction.

Tell us your reinvention song.

I haven't thought of or shared this before, but one song I listen to to motivate me is "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus. It makes me feel that every decision to reinvent is not a start from scratch, but one more step up the mountain:

"Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb"

This part reminds me that I have to keep moving forward and carve my own path. 

How would you define yourself now?

A creative who wants to make an impact. I am an art director, founder of Four4Fun, creator of Commercial Break, and a hustler.

Reinventions is a questionnaire series with people who are making pivots in their lives. If you're going through a reinvention and would like to be interviewed for the series, please get in touch.

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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