Next Creative Leaders 2022: Christine Marie Smith
By Laurel Stark on Dec 13, 2022
"As a young woman in a male-dominated field, I’ve learned the only way to gain respect is to speak my mind in all situations."
Every year around this time, we announce a new class of Next Creative Leaders. And as the Co-Founder, I get the honor of reflecting on and finding the words to introduce you to our latest class. Over the past eight years, Next Creative Leaders has come to mean talent and impact to me. But this year, the word that is circling our 2022 class is legacy. We highlighted a handful of our winners this year so you could learn more about them as individuals and read their stories.
Christine Marie Smith
Senior Art Director at VICE / Creative Director at Butter Agency Copenhagen
What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?
My sister’s ex-boyfriend's dad was a Creative Director at BBDO Copenhagen, so I got an internship there when I was 18 and had no idea what advertising was, but I was blown away by the fact that I could live from purely making ideas and that’s what got me hooked.
How did your upbringing, family, or culture shape you as a creative?
I don’t come from a creative family. My dad is an engineer, and my mum works in HR. But maybe the problem-solving skills from my dad and the human aspect from my mum is a pretty good cocktail for creative thinking. I grew up on a farm in the countryside and always felt a little like I didn't fit in. But in creative aspects like music, fashion, and drawing, I felt like I could forget time and space.
What’s the piece of NCL winning work you’re most proud of and why?
Definitely Backup Ukraine. It’s been amazing to be able to create a project that can make a difference in a horrible time of war and give people hope that they can back up their homes with just their phones.
What drew you to the “innovation” side of the agency experience?
I naturally have a tendency to try and turn every brief into a piece of interesting communication rather than a traditional TV ad. It excites me to be able to either create something completely new that doesn’t exist yet and to use tech as a creative tool for good. I get easily bored if things are too predictable, but because we have so many exciting new technologies coming out all the time, it makes it more exciting to bring those into my day-to-day life.
What does it take to be one of the top-ranked Art Directors in the world?
I mean... I don’t even know if I know what it takes. A lot of hard work?! Definitely to see yourself as a brand and have a distinctive style you can tweak and twist to fit clients. But also to keep yourself in the know. I try to spot the next trend and bring visual aspects from the art and fashion world into the ad world. And I always ask myself if I would like to be associated with the piece of work and how it looks.
What’s the key to balancing impressive client work and personal creative projects that fulfill you?
My mental health comes first. And my personal creative projects bring me a lot of joy and calm. But the fast pace, quick turnaround client briefs also give me energy, so I need both to be in balance. And often, there's a crossover between the two - as I said earlier, I can bring some of my knowledge and style from my personal projects into client briefs. It’s about staying interested to keep being interesting.
What is your secret creative superpower, and how do you flex it?
Definitely not being scared to speak up. Especially as a young woman in a male-dominated field, I’ve learned the only way to gain respect is to speak my mind in all situations. It’s a shame that I sometimes feel like I've had to make an extra effort to be heard, but I'm pretty fearless when it comes to reaching out to people and speaking my mind in front of ‘important’ people, and it’s always paid off. I’d rather say something stupid than not say anything at all.
"Definitely not being scared to speak up. Especially as a young woman in a male-dominated field, I’ve learned the only way to gain respect is to speak my mind in all situations."
What do you love most about living and working in Copenhagen?
The work-life balance in Copenhagen is much different than when I lived in London. It’s much calmer here. And then I feel much safer as well on a day-and-night basis in Copenhagen, which has lowered my anxiety and stress levels. It’s not far from one end of Copenhagen to the other, so everyone walks or bikes around, which I much rather prefer to the busy London tubes. Being more in tune with yourself brings out better ideas.
How did you get so into Blockchain and NFTs?
My friend and I just started to read about it and research it - and from this, we found that it was very male-dominated. So as an experiment, we created a range of NFTs (literally just learning by doing) and started MCCM NFT, which was a female focused NFT community. We taught non-male creators how to mint through competitions we funded from the NFTs we sold (Fresh-Mints Gal), and also showcased cool work on our Instagram and twitter profiles. The best way to learn something is to just try it and experiment with it yourselves, and this community grew really quickly within just a few months. We’ve seen a lot of other communities do similar things, so there was definitely a need for it.
What role do you think emerging technology will play in the future of creativity?
As the younger generation has grown up with phones and the internet, I believe it will have a very big role. Gaming is a field I think we will see more and more creative solutions within since it’s one of the biggest social platforms we have. And then, of course, the next-gen of AI and how that will affect creative work - both good and bad.
Who is inspiring you right now and why?
We recently worked on a project where I rediscovered Marina Abramovic and her way of creating performance art. I would love to bring her way of looking at the world, human behaviors, and her provocative angle into brand work.
Check out all the Next Creative Leaders of 2022!