Barry Quinn RGD takes on new role as Chief Design Officer, North America at DDB Chicago

As a creative industry leader with many years of experience in advertising, Barry Quinn RGD reflects on the evolution of the field, the role of design and how the landscape continues to change as he moves into the next chapter of his career. 


Q: What new opportunities are you looking forward to as Chief Design Officer, North America at DDB Chicago?

It’s a new role for DDB, so that alone is an exciting opportunity. At the moment, DDB is very energized and focused on not only creating great work, but on building the kinds of teams that can produce what brands need. And design is one of the things that brands really need right now. My task is making the integration of design a competitive, cultural and creative advantage.

Q: Can you share any thoughts on the fact that you'll be working for DDB Chicago but will be based in Toronto, and overseeing North America? Is the advertising industry embracing the idea of the virtual workplace, rather than one that requires employees to be working out of the same office? 

When you write it in a sentence like that it sounds unwieldy, but it really isn’t. Sometimes the best clients and talent are down the street from you, and that’s pretty convenient. But they are often in other cities or countries, so you need to develop processes, communications and relationships that shrink that distance. The trick is to find a way to be one team that’s just down a long hall from each other.


Q: How would you describe the role of design in advertising agencies in general, and at DDB Chicago specifically? How has this role changed over your career?

Both Design and Advertising are going through major changes. The walls between creative disciplines are being pulled down as we realize we need to work with people with different skill sets and perspectives if we are going to create successful work. That is very much the case with DDB. We can accomplish bigger, better and more effective work when we remove the artificial barriers and partner up differently.

At a personal level, this type of cross discipline team work causes you to become sympathetic to the work of others and more aware of the limitations and awesomeness of your own work. Plus, it's cool to create something you could never have done alone.

Q: What are the biggest challenges/changes you’ve encountered as a designer working in advertising and how do you see this industry changing more in the future?

The biggest misconception is that designers are useful when you want to make work more beautiful and that we only care about form. Of course we can make things that are beautiful, but we can do so much more. The world has never been more interconnected and cluttered than it is now, and a designer's more holistic approach is invaluable in that kind of world.

Q: You’ve had an amazing career so far. What would you say has been key to your success? 

Thanks for the compliment. But in some ways I have the RGD to thank. The very first thing I did that gave me a different trajectory was winning a student RGD competition. It was my first win and the first time I was published.

A  lot of my career success has come down to hard work and being in the right place at the right time, with the right people. I have been very fortunate to work with many people who are far more talented than I. Working with talented people improves your work, but if you pay attention they will also alter your perspective.

I would also say being a part of the design community, but not beholden to it, allowed me to make choices that seemed odd at times. But they were choices that ultimately put me in a position to do the work and meet the people that would change my career.


About Barry Quinn RGD

As co-founder of Juniper Park, he helped grow the business from 5 to 165 people, winning over 450 awards in the process. Previously Barry was a Partner at Grip Limited and Creative Director, Design at Gee Jeffery & Partners Advertising. He spent his formative years at Spencer Francey Peters, Ove Design and Bhandari & Co.


In 2012, Barry was named the #3 creative director in Canada. Barry has worked on many great brands: Miller Lite, Eos, CIBC, Lululemon, Quaker, Tropicana, Lay’s, SunChips, Virgin Mobile, Viva Transit, Kraft, Honda, Labatt among many others. His work has been recognized by: Cannes, The Effies, Communication Arts, The Warc Prize, Clios, London International, Marketing Magazine, One Show, Coupe Awards, New York Festival, Applied Arts and others.


He sits on the Humber College Graphic Design Advisory Committee, is a past member of the ADCC and RGD boards and speaks publicly and frequently contributes to publications.