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Developer Spotlight - IdeaWork Studios – Jay Schwartz, Founder and Chief Creative Officer

The Developer Spotlight is an interview session with many of the top designers and developers of interactive media from around the world.  This edition will be an interview with Jay Schwartz from IdeaWork Studios, winners of multiple awards in the 2014 Horizon Interactive Awards competition as well as being recognized as one of the prestigious Distinguished Agencies.

HIA: Hi Jay, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  I am hoping that by sharing stories and interviews of developers all over the world, the Horizon Interactive Awards will be a source where business owners, designers and developers can go to share ideas, get inspired and learn from one another. Most importantly, we are keeping with our mission to highlight great talent from across the globe. We would like to congratulate you on your individual project wins and being among this year’s Distinguished Agencies.

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: Thank you – we appreciate and value the recognition from Horizon.

HIA: So, tell us a little about yourself. Specifically, how did you get into the field of interactive media, your experience, and sources for creative inspiration, etc.?

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: I started exploring interactive media early in my career, pushing the boundaries of what people thought was possible back in the days before broadband, CSS, and JavaScript (yes, that dates me). My background as a fine artist and printmaker gave me a solid foundation in visual communication, but the lure of a new medium was what intrigued me to keep moving forward with interactive media. For me, the advent of Flash was what really changed the game.

HIA: Tell us more IdeaWork Studios.

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: In terms of inspiration, I find it everywhere. Getting to spend half my time in Santa Barbara and the other half in Manhattan really affords me the spectrum from a natural and urban palette. New York has this amazing frenetic energy and a deep rooted history but Santa Barbara is filled with amazing natural beauty and peacefulness. I’m very fortunate to be able to call both places home, and I seek inspiration from my environment.


HIA: We understand that you have a unique company philosophy. Can you share with us that philosophy as well as how it influences your work?

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: My company philosophy mirrors my personal life philosophy: Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Our official company policy is, “Big agency work without the bureaucracy or bullshit” which boils down to be about the same thing.

HIA: Talk about how IdeaWork Studios has become specialized in the hospitality industry and how those types of projects have unique requirements and/or solutions?

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: Originating in Santa Barbara, a tourist mecca, gave me the ability to learn about the hospitality industry in a perfect high-demand market. I had several hotels and restaurants as clients for design and they trusted me when I told them about this new thing called, “the internet” that would help them fill rooms and stay ahead of the competition. When I opened our Las Vegas office, it gave us the opportunity to apply our working knowledge on a much larger scale. Hospitality, boutique hotels specifically, are more than just numbers. A true hotelier cares deeply about providing a unique guest experience and no two boutique hotels will provide the exact same experience. There’s something for everyone.

It’s my job to quickly identify the strongest elements of each individual property (be it a hotel, a restaurant, etc.) and showcase them in a way that will appeal to the segment of the population that is looking for that kind of an experience.

HIA: Talk about what winning the Horizon Interactive Award means in terms your team, clients, etc.

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: I don’t get out of bed every morning in order to win awards. Happy clients and getting to produce great work are my awards. But it’s nice to be recognized by an esteemed organization like the Horizon Interactive Awards for the work we produce. When a client is reviewing our capabilities against our competitors, the legitimizing element of our work being recognized by the Horizon Interactive Awards may make them feel more comfortable that their decisions are solid in selecting us.

HIA: So, what is on the “Horizon” for the IdeaWork Studios?

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: Lots going on right now … we’re expanding our New York presence and continuing some great client partnerships. We’ve got some amazing new work we’ll be ready to showcase soon, and some great projects in the pipeline.

HIA: We understand that you are an accomplished street chalk painter.  Can you share with us more about this?

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: I started street painting at the end of my college years and was immediately hooked. Being versed in using chalk pastels to create large-scale work wasn’t foreign to me but doing it on the ground was totally new. It’s a great mix of fine art and performance art, where you’re producing this artwork in the middle of a crowd, oftentimes among other amazing artists. I’m not into the anamorphic (3D) stuff myself, but I love being able to travel around and create large scale artwork outdoors in the elements for everyone to enjoy. The one comment I get most often is about the impermanence and ephemeral quality of the medium, but that’s what I enjoy most … being able to create something that people will view and enjoy in real time that won’t last. Some of my branding, environmental, or signage work can be daunting in its permanence, and having the freedom to create a work that is meant to be destroyed by the elements is extremely liberating.

HIA: Do you have anything else you’d like to add to our interview?

Jay Schwartz, IdeaWork Studios: I just want to thank the Horizon Interactive Awards for the distinction for my agency. It means a lot to me and to my team to be part of something that’s recognized as among the best in our industry. We also welcome anyone who wants to learn more about us to visit our site at www.ideawork.com, or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ideawork.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  You should be very proud of the achievement in this year’s competition and we look forward to having you back again next year. Having quality companies, such as IdeaWork Studios, compete from year to year is certainly what has allowed the Horizon Interactive Awards to grow and be able to highlight outstanding work from all over the world.