Next Creative Leaders: Liz Cartwright

Posted on May 04, 2015

Three words you'd use to describe yourself?
Thoughtful. Candid. Passionate.

What piece of work are you most proud of and why?
Pacific Standard Time. That project shaped me as much as I shaped it. I'm not a native Angeleno but I was thrown into the deep end of the LA art scene. It was a 15 month long project and every day I was being exposed to new artists, new ways of creative thinking and new forms of expression. It may sound intense (and it was), but the art from that era was so inspiring that it quickly became a joy to be so immersed in it. I'm so proud that we were able to find a way to make its impact relevant to today's culture.

How'd you end up in this industry?
Well, the most challenging part about getting into this industry, specifically the creative side of it, is that you don't really know it's a career option for you when you're a student. Someone has to tip you off about it. After I graduated from college, I was searching for a path but I couldn't find anything that was creatively satisfying – until my brother told me about the Creative Circus in Atlanta. At the time the slogan for the school was: "Where weird kids become employable" and I knew it was for me.

Your husband is also your creative partner. What role do you feel your partnership has played in your career success?
I owe all my career success to my partnership [with Steve Lum]. I don't know if anyone can claim complete, independent success in this business. We all need help. We all need an advocate—mine is my husband, and I'm his.

We’re very comfortable pushing each other creatively. We have fun getting lost in an idea and seeing where it takes us. We truly enjoy each other's imaginations. That kind of trust has become very creatively satisfying for me. Our partnership has also challenged me to maintain my individuality. Because our lives are so entwined, it's easy for the same to happen to our identities. We have to actively work against that happening. I take on independent creative projects, read different books and seek out separate experiences so that I’ll always have a new perspective to bring to the table.

What do you think it is about an agency that makes for happy employees and excellent work?
An agency's culture is a reflection of the people who lead it. And the people who lead VBP are some of the kindest and bravest I've ever met. Those two qualities should never be undervalued in an industry like this. Our leadership team has created an environment where everyone has a voice. If you have something to say, it's not difficult to be heard. And because it's an independent agency, the focus is more on the people than on the profits. I think when people feel valued, that gets reflected in the work that they do.



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