What Drives You: David Smulowitz, Digital Creative Director at Community
September 12, 2013
Did you go to University? If so, what did you study?
I applied to York University for the Fine Arts Program for a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, specializing in Digital. My portfolio was one of 200 accepted, however by year two the compulsory curriculum made me wonder if I really needed the BFA degree. I learned that it took approximately 18 months for a course curriculum to be approved; by the time I completed University, I would in fact be lagging behind. Subsequently, I left York University during my second year.
What made you decide to go the digital route?
I have always loved drawing and couldn’t deny my love of art in general. My thought was that if I could use a pencil to create art, surely other mediums could be used to explore and expand my desire to pursue design. I wanted to challenge myself and the mystery of self-education by using the computer as my new pencil. Even the simplest piece I created made me proud! It ignited my passion to create with a new energy. I saw the digital world as a new form of expression — evidently this was the direction the design industry was moving and I wanted to be on that wave, riding it and creating my own ripples.
Where do you get your creative inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, and still do today. I often look at something and ask myself, "Can I create that? Design that? Build that?" I love architectural lines, symmetry and beautifully designed pieces both new and old. Any piece that stands out while not being obscure acts as creative stimuli for me. From a vinyl toy like a MUNNY to a museum such as the ROM, each brings their own feelings on creativity and what I would like to achieve.
Who would your dream dinner party include? Where would it be and what would you order?
Very tough question, I really had to take some time to think this through. I love listening to people share their life stories — their hardships, momentous occasions and triumphs. On my list would be, in no particular order, Nelson Mandela, Quentin Tarantino, Muhammad Ali, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bruce Lee, Dwayne Johnson and my father’s late father, whom I did not have the opportunity to meet. For my dinner I would prefer to order one of everything — I would rather taste a little bit of something than over-indulge in one thing. As to where it would be, it wouldn’t matter when you have a roundtable of guests like that to break bread with.
What excites you about your job?
I love what I do, I love the people I get to work with and I embrace the challenges we face daily in making our company the best it can be. At Pulp&Fiber / Community, people don’t work for me, they work for the company, with me. Each person takes an ownership attitude in the company and this ultimately leads to its success. When I hear of a new project coming to fruition or a co-worker comes to me with a new idea for improvement, that excites me. I know we have the right people, and we’re heading in the right direction.
What defines success to you?
Success can be defined in so many ways; people, happiness, financial rewards, etc. Art, my co-founding business partner, and I started the company together. Twelve years later, we are approaching 60 people in our company. We sometimes sit down and think about what we have accomplished. But do we consider it success? It’s tough to say when we find ourselves constantly striving to improve. I think success, no matter the size of our company, would be the satisfaction our co-workers feel when they come in to work and love what they do. When our co-workers are excited to try something different, and have an entrepreneurial spirit, we all benefit. That’s when I think success starts to happen.
What is the best advice that someone has ever given you? Did you follow it?
I never stop looking for advice, whether it’s the right advice or not. As our company has grown, different advice has come and gone. The best advice I impart on any one of my co-workers is as follows: “Don’t come to me with a problem, come to me with a solution!” Then no matter how easy or hard, we can figure out how to make that solution happen.