Next Creative Leaders 2021:
Monica Gramunt de Azqueta
By Laurel Stark on Nov 02, 2021
She / Her / Hers
Hometown and country:
Current employer, city and role:
Officer & Gentleman, Madrid. Creative Supervisor.
How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?
Being born and raised in Madrid has put me right in the center of everything, literally. This city isn’t just the capital, fortunately for me, it’s also a place where my favorite type of people come together: people who “do things”. So, I consider myself really lucky to call this my home and have a group of incredibly creative, passionate and inspiring friends who are always working on new projects I can collaborate on.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
My love story with advertising isn’t all that romantic.
I come from a family of advertisers. My mom was one of the first people to study advertising in Spain back in the 80's, my dad has been working in the industry for more than 30 years and two of my siblings have also studied or have dedicated themselves to the field. So, you can imagine that advertising has always been a topic of conversation at the dinner table. Even so, working in the industry wasn’t a given. I started out studying English Literature, but by the end of the first year I’d dropped out. At that time, I was just one existential crisis away from ending up in advertising, so it was just a matter of time before I really made up my mind.
In 2016 I decided to sign up for a master's program at The Atomic Garden, one of the most prestigious creative schools in Spain (where I now teach). After I graduated, I was lucky enough to begin my career at Officer & Gentleman in the earliest days of the agency, when we were just 4 people in a room doing amazing things.
What’s the piece of NCL winning work you’re most proud of and why?
I think I'll stick with Dirtiest Porn Ever, a campaign for Pornhub to raise awareness about the pollution of our beaches and oceans. I’m very proud of this idea. Not only because of what it took to pull it off, but because with a client like Pornhub, you tend to resort to humor in almost every campaign.
In contrast, this project wasn’t meant to be funny or sugarcoated; it had a noble purpose and a real objective. The brand was quite brave in daring to stray away from its usual tone, and it turned out to be one of their most successful campaigns ever.
What’s the lesson another creative can take away from that successful creative experience?
It is amazingly easy for an idea to become distorted or diluted in the process, so don't be afraid to be a pain in the ass.
What does being named a Next Creative Leader mean to you?
Since I found out, I’ve been struggling with my good friend Imposter Syndrome, so the news has been both exciting and overwhelming. This platform performs a very valuable role, and it’s an honor for me to be part of it. It also comes with a big responsibility: continuing to work to pave the way for those who come after us.
Who has most influenced you in your career so far?
I have been fortunate to have great mentors and meet inspiring people throughout my career. One of them is Natalia Mirapeix, a creative, illustrator, professor—a woman with such strength of character that you’d have to be dead not to be influenced by her in some way. I was also lucky enough to join Officer & Gentleman when it was just starting out, which has given me the opportunity to work hand in hand with Alex Katz and Javier Íñiguez de Onzoño, the co-founders and ECDs of the agency.
What is your secret (or not-so-secret) creative superpower and how do you flex it?
I think I'm pretty good at writing long-form copy. If only I had been born 40 years earlier.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the creative industry right now and how would you solve it?
Mental health, 100%. It's curious that an industry that’s so groundbreaking in some respects has been so slow to respond to the mental health conversation. We need to come to terms with the fact that a mind crushed beneath the weight of stress and anxiety isn’t focused on creativity, it’s focused on survival; and a mind just trying to survive isn’t exactly poised to produce any brilliant ideas.
It saddens me to see how outdated our work processes; that agencies still demand a lot and yet give very little in return. When I talk to other people in the industry, they all say the same thing: "I'm exhausted". The truth is this can't go on much longer. Of course, there’s no easy solution to such a complex problem, but surely there is a better option than just giving free pizza to your employees.
How has the pandemic changed your creative process or the way you work?
It hasn't changed my creative process so much as the way I approach my work. I've always had a puppy-like personality: I get distracted very easily and it's hard for me to concentrate on finishing a task. This process of constant procrastination meant that even in my off hours I wasn’t relaxed, which caused me a lot of anxiety and left me totally exhausted.
These dynamics have changed a lot since the pandemic. Now, with remote work, I’ve become stricter with myself. I’m very mindful of the hours I work and the hours I rest, and I try very hard not to cross the line between them. In that sense I feel that I have matured as a creative; now I am the puppy and the owner at the same time!
Our jobs can be exhausting even in “precedented times.” How are you caring for yourself right now?
Sometimes a girl just needs to sleep until 1 p.m. on a Saturday and stay in her pajamas all day.
How are you working to celebrate, support, or elevate other marginalized voices and experiences?
I know, as much as I may not like it, that my socio-economic circumstances often make me part of the problem. Therefore, I try to read and learn every day so that I don't take up more space than I should.
Creativity can save the world. What real-world problem would you want to tackle with creativity, if time, budget, and logistics were not an issue?
Where do you turn when you need to spark your creativity?
I always come back to books; reading has always been one of my greatest pleasures. Here’s why: during my childhood, as soon as summer vacation started, my mom used to put the TV in a locked closet, then she would take us to a bookstore and let us choose as many books as we wanted. It wasn’t such a welcome move at the time, but now I can't thank her enough for it.
How are you leaving work, the workplace, or the world a better place than you found it?
I’m a copywriting teacher. In my classes we spend hours analyzing and correcting texts, but we also talk about agency life and life in general. I'd like to think that they take away some valuable lessons from my classes. Now whether I succeed or not, you'd have to ask them.
What is a story you feel uniquely set up to tell?
Anything that’s not related to the pandemic. The world needs new stories.
Who is inspiring you right now and why?
My creative partner, Luis Alvarez, is and will always be my greatest source of inspiration.
If you could go back in time, what pivotal advice would you give yourself before your first day as a professional creative?
Don’t try to please anyone.
Be sure to check out all the winning work for the Next Creative Leaders of 2021!