CREATE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW BY CONOR RISCH
PDN: Before you left Mother to establish
Kilo Industries, you were considering
opening an office for Mother in Brazil.
What did you see happening in the industry
that caused you to change course?
GUSTAVO SOUSA: Working in New
York, for the little time that I worked at
an agency here, I noticed how some of
the most interesting talent were actually
freelancing. Those people were way
happier, they were making enough money,
they were working all the assignments
they wanted to work. If you’re a creative
person and you’re happy, of course you’re
going to create better, make better work.
The business model for the advertising
agencies in Brazil is very old school. Media
commission-based income, that’s the main
source of income of the agency which is
something like [in] the United States...in
the ’80s. There are many great agencies
there, amazing talent there in Brazil, but
I found that the business model was a bit
weird. Today it’s much easier and much
more effective for [freelance creatives]
to find the right balance. They are all
working independently on their own
things and they bring people together
to do something. [Clients approach
you] because they really want you, and
everybody works much better. That type
of project is way better for the client and
for the creatives. Not every job works well
that way—probably very giant corporate
things wouldn’t work that well, but most
of the interesting jobs, the interesting
projects, that’s the best way to work.
PDN: What do your clients come to
you for? A particular esthetic?
GS: In advertising, if you’re working for
a client, I don’t know if you should have
a defined esthetic. As an artist, I like
minimalism, simplicity. My paintings…
they’re very simple. That’s what I like.
In terms of advertising and as a designer,
it just depends on the job. Esthetically it
has to be the right thing for whatever the
idea is. You start to become not an artist
but more of a curator. As a creative, maybe
the one thing that I like and that maybe
people like about me is I try to be as direct
LEFT: For an Anheuser-Busch/InBev project with
Hoegaarden, Gustavo Sousa traveled with Marcelo
Gomes to Big Sur, California and Hoegaarden,
Belgium, shooting with film to make images that
relate the brand to nature and to its heritage.
AS A CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT MOTHER, Gustavo Sousa led the agency’s work for
Stella Artois for several years. The Brazil-born creative started out in marketing after earning
his business degree, then moved to New York and studied design. Mother hired him a year
later and he moved to London, eventually working his way up to Executive Creative Director
for Stella when he was 29, and in 2013 was made partner. At Mother, Sousa worked with
photographers Annie Leibovitz and Bert Stern, filmmaker Wim Wenders, painter Robert
McInnis and designer Pablo Ferro, among others. In 2015, Sousa left Mother to concentrate
on his own company, Kilo Industries, which is based in New York. There, he’s rebranded and
developed a new creative concept for Belgian beer company Hoegaarden, and has done work
for Stella Artois and Corona, among others.
Sousa recently spoke with PDN about the advertising industry, contemporary photography,
and why photographers should develop relationships with freelance creatives.