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Our Humans of 3Q series continues this week with one of the newest additions at 3Q, Julia Thiel, who joined our Creative team as the new Creative Director just a few short weeks ago. I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about her past experiences, passions, design predictions, and as a bonus, her California adventures with her mini schnauzers. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll enjoy getting to know our new Creative Director as much as I did:

How did you get into design? Were you always passionate about it?

As a child, I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. My parents, ever pragmatic, convinced me that there is no money to be made in that trade. So then I wanted to be an interior designer. But I was terrible at math. So I landed on studying fashion and graphic design. And then went to work at ad agencies. Being a freelancer for 7 ½ years before joining 3Q allowed me to go back to all those dreams, illustrate some, design some, start a home decor line, become a published photographer, and so much more. I also spent one year at the University in Munich studying teaching. Add my entrepreneurial and artistic skills to my teacher/mentor mindset, and you’ve got yourself the new 3Q Art Director.

Photo cred: Thomas Chadwick

Throughout your career, who have been some of your biggest muses, supporters, and role models?

My parents. Both teachers, both very creative minds, each in a very different way. They inspired and supported my artsy side from the get-go, prepared me well for most things life can throw at you, and sent me out into the world with a pragmatic, practical, very rational worldview. I was also fortunate to have worked under managers who placed a great deal of trust in me, and that greatly influenced my own management style. My boyfriend is my muse, being a freelance Creative Director himself. He is a great source of inspiration, motivation, and always challenges and pushes my creative thinking to places I might not have gone to myself.

Julia photographed Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains for a coffee table book.

You recently moved from Chicago to San Francisco. What motivated the transition and what have you enjoyed most about California?

My boyfriend and I lived in Chicago for over a decade. We were tired of the winters and wanted to have more active lives out in nature. There’s only so much to do in the Midwest, it’s very flat, and the weather is never right. We found our outdoor paradise in Marin, along with a house on a blackberry-covered hill where the deer-to-human ratio is 3:1. The kale I’ve planted has been eaten by bunnies, most of the plums stolen by squirrels, but our fig trees are almost ready for a delicious harvest. The town we live in now gets 267 days of sunshine per year. No more vitamin D deficiency! We are also getting into mountain biking. Oh, and we recently made the acquaintance of a baby spotted owl on an evening hike. It was just as interested in us as we were in it. That was a magical encounter.

Pillow: “The NeighborHäuser™ Wicker Park Pillow designed by Julia.

Why did you choose to join 3Q Digital?

My friend Carl Paradiso sang 3Q’s praises and I had actually reached out to Aaron Bart about freelance work six months before I moved here. So once I arrived in SF, we reconnected, I had a great round of interviews with very interesting people, and the rest is history. I have always been interested in psychology, love figuring out why people do the things they do. Obviously that’s at the core of SEM. In addition, I think that my creative and entrepreneurial skill set, along with my personality, are a great fit for 3Q culture.

How is 3Q different from other agencies you’ve worked with?

I’ve worked mostly with pharmaceutical advertising agencies, so probably needless to say that is an entirely different field. The creative teams were huge; there were many cooks involved with everything we did, and lots of red tape and long, slow-moving projects with endless iterations and revisions. At 3Q we have a small but powerful creative team with a lot of autonomy, and we work fast on small projects for very large, well-known and interesting clients. It’s exciting and fun!

What’s been your favorite thing about the 3Q SF office so far?

The smart and rational people I work with. Oh, and that there’s Nutella. And parking. And dogs. Not necessarily in this order.

As marketing makes a shift from brand-focused to data-focused, how do you see creative evolving with it?

I’ve always been a proponent of “form follows function”. I don’t like unnecessary fluff. I like clean designs. There should be a good reason for everything on the page (or, the screen). Data gives you that validation. If you apply data-focused thinking to design, you end up with clean, functional, user friendly design.

What resources do you use to stay up-to-date on the latest design trends?

A variety of online resources, like Communication Arts, AIGA, Print, Luerzers, Awwwards, HOW Design. And of course museum visits, galleries, exhibits, shows, movies…Design is everywhere.


What are your predictions for what will be trending in 2018?

Apple’s original content? A revival of capri pants? Mullets? Oh, and of course my genius idea that will change the world, but I can’t talk about it…shhh.

And finally, at 3Q, we get really excited about our pets, or as we call them, “morale associates”. Can you tell us a little about yours?  How are they liking California?

They were a bit freaked out by the steep hills in SF (we lived in Bernal Heights for two months). They spent their whole lives in Midwestern flatlands! So now one is scared to go uphill, and the other one is scared to go downhill. Makes for great walks, as you can imagine. But they are much happier in this climate; they love nature walks and, most of all, cool breezy beaches. The moment their paws touch sand, they turn into little rockets and run themselves silly. I love that I will never have to put boots on them again to protect the little paws from the salt of Chicago’s wintry streets.

Aishi and Rami are happiest on a cool breezy beach. Fort Funston is their favorite.

If you are interesting in learning more about our talented Creative team, or finding out how we can take your landing pages, banner ads, App Store, or other design needs to the next level, contact us!

Get to know more of our 3Qers in our Humans of 3Q series. Interested in joining the ranks? Check out our Careers page.