Ivy Liu, Creative Director of Creative Agency KWORQ, invites us to take a look behind the curtain of this boutique agency that specializes in video and celebrates with whiskey. I love coming across agencies that take on colossal projects amongst a strong but small, lean, mean team. Check out their new Soho office, how laughter and liquor are necessary and what their craziest project entailed.
AA: As Creative Director, tell me what you do at Kworq?
IVY: It’s really hard to concisely sum up what I do at Kworq. Because we’re a boutique agency everyone has multiple roles. Usually, a typical day for me starts at 9:30. I drink my tea and eat my congee (something that we occasionally joke about due to a previous spillage on a keyboard…
Clients always come first, so whatever projects we’re working on I start on those and make sure my tasks for the day are completed. During my down time is when I get to be most creative. As you know, we love to create original work for our Instagram – most of what you see on our feed are my original ideas so I spend a lot of time cultivating and creating those. Usually I pitch my idea to Guy, one of the founders of Kworq, and talk through strategy with him and the conversation spitballs within the team. He’s heavily involved from beginning to end and we love seeing his face light up when we tell him about our fun little ideas. It really motivates us and keeps our creativity flowing. Right now, we’re trying to build our social media presence but the likes are only a small portion of my satisfaction with our feed. I love scrolling through and knowing that as a team we’re capable of producing unique work that I’m damn proud of.
AA: Describe the culture at Kworq.
IVY: Once a friend asked if I wake up excited for work in the morning. It took me less than a second to respond, “HELL YES.” To be completely honest, I’ve worked in a couple of hell holes – not because I didn’t like the work that I was doing but because I disliked the culture. With Kworq I know I’ve hit the jackpot.
I think because we’re a boutique agency, it’s easy for the team to be very collaborative. There are no separate offices, we sit in desks several feet away from one another – including our founders. Chris and Guy – the Founders, EPs, Directors – are the biggest factor in our company culture. They encourage learning, creativity, risk-taking, and will always go to bat for us. It’s a hugely positive atmosphere – one that includes a fully stocked fridge and a foosball table.
We laugh a lot at Kworq. There isn’t a day that goes by without laughter. That’s super important in any company culture but really important for us. We work in an environment that encourages people to be themselves. No matter how vibrant, weird, silly, or odd that is. We consider ourselves to never be fake and always transparent – with ourselves and our clients.
AA: What’s special about Kworq? What differentiates you guys from other agencies that focus on video?
IVY: We don’t necessarily compare ourselves to other agencies – instead we focus more on how we can continue to exceed expectations and put out the best work possible. We consider ourselves storytellers, first and foremost. When a client comes to us with a project we’re constantly thinking about the stories behind what we’re trying to sell, the stories of the people we’re trying to reach, and how our individual stories can add to that.
AA: What’s one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on and why?
IVY: Favorite…? How bout craziest, but most proud of? That has to be Verizon / NFL for Super Bowl XLIX. We had probably 6 weeks to concept, develop, produce, shoot, animate and finish 31 pieces of content for 4 interactive installations at the Verizon Power House which went live in downtown Phoenix, renamed Verizon Super Bowl Central, a week leading up to the big game. It was probably the most stressful, politically charged job we’ve ever done. The pieces of content included personalized live action commercial style spots, interactive question and answer clips of players that morphed into one another and a 2minute 3D animation with a single camera move. 48 hours stretches without sleep. Last minute client requests. Some fights. Some tears. I’m pretty sure Chris and Guy went insane for a minute. But we got through it. And well.
That project really showed me what we are able to do when the team is completely combined….We feel like after this..there is nothing we cant accomplish.
AA: What are some tips on managing client expectations for a video project?
IVY: There is no checklist or predefined way in managing all of our clients and their expectations. Sure there are best practices and such, but really it comes down to knowing who our client really is. What their personalities are, their tastes, their idiosyncrasies and most importantly their goals. Getting to the bottom of what they actually want to achieve, what they envision as success, is an art form unto itself. And then for us, we tend to err on the side of safety when proposing what can be achieved in the given time and cost frames, since there are always unforeseen events that influence the outcome of a project. And then we grind at it with the full intention of far exceeding that proposal.
If anyone describes anything we put out as ‘fine’, or ‘good enough’, then we know we need to do more. Nothing should ever be just fine. It should be great.
AA: What’s something that works really well at Kworq that you want to share with the agency world?
IVY: No matter how many amazing software applications, plugins, servers we have or use, (and we have quite a lot ) nothing beats our process. From an Instagram post to an interactive video installation to a national campaign with multitudes of content to produce we all start from one creative idea. We all can envision how beautiful the end results will be, but in order to reach what we want it takes a lot of time and effort from every individual. We all come together to create the perfect process. Its almost like everybody is as vital a cog as the next in the larger Kworq machine.
Also! We keep a healthy supply of whiskey in the kitchen so that always helps 🙂
AA: What is the most difficult thing about your job?
IVY: Always feeling like I could have done more. Whenever I post something to Instagram I always think “this could’ve been better.” I think thats just part of being a creative though – always working, always changing, always wanting to exceed expectations…
AA: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to be a creative director?
IVY: Never stop thinking, looking or creating. Actions speak louder than words. And most importantly, be okay with failing. Failing is the only evidence that you took a risk, went out on a limb and did something you’ve never done before. So judge yourself not so much on your successes, but how well you screwed the pooch.
Photos of their staff and office were provided directly by Kworq.