Young Guns: DDB Sydney art director Elaine Li

7 March 2019
Elaine Li

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

Today, we speak to DDB Sydney art director Elaine Li.

Time at current company:
Five months. 

How long have you been in the industry?
Six years (and a half - including internships).

How did you get here?
I went to art school in Chicago for visual communication (basically a fancier way to say graphic design), but I’ve always enjoyed advertising. I started as an intern in a small ad agency in Chicago and had a brief stint at the Obama 2012 campaign design team. I then became a junior art director in a B2B agency before moving back to Hong Kong to join Ogilvy where I stayed for five years. Most recently I moved to Sydney and worked at Clemenger before joining DDB last year.

Who guides you day to day?
I’m really fortunate to be part of a creative team that is incredibly talented and hard-working. All the creative partners at DDB double as mentors in their own distinct ways.

Another person worth mentioning is my partner Jared Wicker. The level of enthusiasm he brings to every project, big or small, motivates me to keep pushing for good work.

What’s the best thing about the industry you work in?
We get to come up with weird, fun ideas and be paid for it.

And the biggest challenge?
Sometimes it can be quite disappointing when you put in lots of efforts and time into an idea, but they end up going down the drain. The biggest challenge is to maintain a positive attitude and not feel disheartened.

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?
If you asked straight-out-of-college Elaine, it would’ve been creative director. But now, I might want to try something different in a few years, maybe jump into a totally different industry. It could be a nice new challenge. There’s also so many jobs these days that didn’t exist five years ago so it’ll be interesting to see what pops up.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
Everywhere really. I’m on social media a lot (like a true millennial) and I get inspiration from Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc… mostly visual inspiration. I love people-watching too - sometimes seeing people's behaviour or overhearing (not eavesdropping) conversations spark ideas as well.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I used to go rooftopping a lot, where my friends and I climb buildings and sneak into rooftops for photos and get unique angles of the city.

It was fun and somewhat reckless. Since then I’ve bought a drone and have been shooting with that instead. I’m also at that age where just the thought of climbing stairs makes my knees hurt.

In five years' time I'll be:
Creative director or running my own business. Who knows?

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