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Derek Smith – The Martin Agency

#AlumniSpotlight The Creative Circus graduates the most sought after creatives in the industry. Take a moment to read about the lives, careers & personal stories of some of our fantastic alumni.

Derek Smith – Senior Art Director at The Martin Agency
Creative Circus Alum – Art Direction (2016)

What were you doing before coming to the circus? 

Before the Circus, I was a college athlete at the University of Memphis. I tore both my ACL’s (not at once) and came to the conclusion my football career was over. Shortly after, I was introduced to advertising school. Because my football scholarship covered my undergrad tuition, I was able to afford tuition for advertising school. 

Advice to the Incoming Class:

As an incoming class, don’t feel overwhelmed. Figure out the rules and question them every chance you get. It’s tempting to feel like you aren’t good enough or to compare yourself to your peers. Don’t let that depreciate the value you have for yourself — we all have something to offer. Staying confident and motivated is 90% of being a “good” creative. 

What does the Circus mean to you?:

The Circus changed my life. To this day, it’s literally the hardest thing I’ve had to do — that’s a mouthful coming from an ex D1 athlete. It made me mentally tough and gave me the empowerment to walk into any agency with my head high, even if I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. The Circus gave me a foundation that I think we all need going into any career. It shaped and molded me into the creative I am today. 

Favorite project you’ve worked on:

Whatever becomes my latest project, feels like my new favorite, because I always try to make it better than my last. Recently, I had a film that premiered at Tribeca about the reopening of NY’s restaurant community. It meant a lot because I had the chance to express my creativity and actually help businesses and the people they nourish. 

What do you wish you knew in school?

I wish I knew no one in the industry had a clue what the answers were or what they were doing. I later found out building good instincts and going off your gut is all that matters.

If you had a billboard to post a single message to the world, what would it say? 

“Don’t be scared to fail or look stupid” 

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