Next Creative Leaders 2021:
Ane Santiago Quintas
By Laurel Stark Posted on Nov 02, 2021
She / Her / Hers
Hometown and country:
Basque by birth, raised in Sant Andreu de Llavaneres (Barcelona), Spain
Current employer, city and role:
Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, Copywriter
How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?
I’ve always loved words and telling stories. I started talking before I was one, and I was a big fan of reading as soon as I figured out how to do it. My parents always encouraged that behavior so I grew up surrounded by books. Spanish and Latin American literature are also brilliant and extremely rich, so that heavily influenced my passion for writing.
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
More than breaking into advertising, I feel like I walked into the building by accident and ended up staying here because I felt really comfortable. I started writing when I was quite young, so I picked advertising as my degree out of elimination because it felt kind of creative. By the time I graduated I had published my first poetry book, and I knew that I could use that skillset for copywriting, so I went to Miami Ad School to build a portfolio. One week before graduating I got accepted into The Kennedys Amsterdam, and the rest is herstory!
What’s the piece of NCL winning work you’re most proud of and why?
It has to be my first project with Nike – “The Land of New Football”. As someone who grew up surrounded by football culture but never felt represented in it, it was an absolute dream getting a sit at the table to celebrate how big and diverse the game really is. We didn’t have to invent anything – just shone a light on what people were already doing out there, and claimed that the game belongs to the people. I grew a lot during the process and gained a new type of confidence I’ll forever be grateful for. The clients were smart and bold, never afraid to stand up for the right thing. The team at WK was incredible as they always are, and I found my new creative partner, Güney Soykan, who is unbelievably talented and hardworking but also the kindest human on earth. 10/10.
What’s the lesson another creative can take away from that successful creative experience?
For managers, clients and people in resourcing – to not be afraid to bring different people to the table, because you end up telling different stories, and that’s what creativity is about. For fellow female and enby creatives – really believing that our voices always matter. There’s no such thing as “being the wrong person for a brief”. We deserve a seat at all the tables because we are capable of honest and great work.
What does being named a Next Creative Leader mean to you?
It is an honor. Being recognized by and sharing this title with people who I look up to and admire so much means the world. As a non-native English writer working in English, I’ve had my fair share of imposter syndrome, and this is a little pat in the back saying – we see you, keep going. I also think visibility is important, so I hope this can help other Spanish speaking girls know that they can have an international career, and that where they come from and their mother tongue shouldn’t be a setback but a reason for pride.
Who has most influenced you in your career so far?
Outside the industry, my dad. He has always given me the freedom and trust to follow my heart, and I’ve learned the meaning of hard work and integrity from him. Inside the industry, every single person I have worked close to has taught me something, but my biggest influence has to be Emma Mällinen, who was my first creative partner at Wieden + Kennedy. They are smart, hardworking, talented, and unapologetically themselves. And the latter has to be the most inspiring part of all. Having them as a close role model while I was taking baby steps into my career has changed me for the better more than they will ever know.
What is your secret (or not-so-secret) creative superpower and how do you flex it?
For the longest time I thought it was a weakness because it made me feel less senior, but with time I have come to realize that being young—and tapped into culture as a consequence—is a great superpower to have. I flex it by bringing that perspective and my references into the work, and by trying to speak to topics that are culturally relevant.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the creative industry right now and how would you solve it?
A lack of diverse leadership in terms of gender and race. I think Kathryn Addo put the solution brilliantly in a 2020 interview for Adage: “Hire women and people of color and put women and people of color in visible positions of leadership.”
How has the pandemic changed your creative process or the way you work?
It made me put my mental health first. You have nothing if you don’t have that.
Our jobs can be exhausting even in “precedented times.” How are you caring for yourself right now?
I’m a big overthinker, and while that is often great for the job, it’s definitely not as good for the soul. I try to do things to be in my body instead of being in my head – I dance, I walk my dog, I work out, I meet friends… whenever I feel stuck, I just put myself in motion.
How are you working to celebrate, support, or elevate other marginalized voices and experiences?
Spending the extra time. If I’m making work celebrating a community I’m not a part of, I spend extra time finding them, talking to them and bringing them into the project so I can pass the mic instead of speaking for them. If I’m looking for directors, illustrators, or photographers, I spend the extra time finding new names to make sure fresh, diverse and exciting talent is making it to the shortlist. If we can’t partner up with diverse creators from that shortlist, then we ask for extra time to find diverse DOP talent to choose from. A big reason why we often don’t collaborate with new, diverse talent is because there’s no time to dig and find it – and as a consequence we end up making the same choices over and over. But like we say in Spain – you don’t have time, you make time. So making time for these things has been my commitment.
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?
There are many issues that need to be solved, and I think they all intersect with one another because we live in a capitalistic system based on dual power dynamics that benefits the oppressors and punishes the oppressed. BUT, when I read the question, Climate Change was the first thing that came to mind, precisely because we have no time, no budget will be able to revert the damage the planet has already suffered, and the global logistics must be a hot mess to handle, so it feels like we should all be tackling it already.
Where do you turn when you need to spark your creativity?
To the dance studio, to books, to my friends… I think observing and feeling are probably two of the most important elements in a creation process, so I turn to whatever allows me to do those two things.
How are you leaving work, the workplace, or the world a better place than you found it?
By working really hard, being kind to everyone and having self-awareness. The advertising industry can be a dangerous place for the ego, especially when you’re a creative. I try to remind myself that everyone is needed as much as we are to get things done – nothing gets done without accounts. Nothing gets done without production. Nothing gets done without strategy, finance, office management, travel department, cleaning services, etc etc etc, so they deserve to be treated with the same respect and appreciation I expect for myself. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who you are, how many awards you have or if you’re the king of the mambo. We’re all trying to do the same thing together, and kindness is the only thing that makes the hard times manageable.
What is a story you feel uniquely set up to tell?
A lot of my literary work is about beauty standards, bodies, and my relationship with my own, so that’s one for sure.
Who is inspiring you right now and why?
Colléctif (LA)Horde, the directors of the National Ballet of Marseille. They are extremely creative and really know how to work with choreography and movement on camera, so I’ve been fascinated with everything they have been putting out.
If you could go back in time, what pivotal advice would you give yourself before your first day as a professional creative?
Be kind to yourself and give it time. You’re not meant to know everything, and you know more than you think.
Be sure to check out all the winning work for the Next Creative Leaders of 2021!