"I went through all learning stages at Kapibara" — Nadezhda Cherkasova
8 years ago, Nadezhda Cherkasova began her career at Kapibara as a designer. We talked about changes in the company during these years, her way from junior specialist to art director and also learned about the four "whales" of a designer's work, continuous development and, of course, about teleworking.
You are working at Kapibara for the ninth year already! It's unusual for the advertising market. Tell us about the start of your career in the company and what you are doing now.

Yes, in 2012 I came to Kapibara as a designer. Igor Maksimov, one of the leaders, found my CV on an internet service resource — I just came and, as it seems, for a lifetime.

At the very beginning, I had a challenging project - a fear of every beginner - in a short time it was necessary to do a difficult task for a tender. The company was looking for a freelancer to do this task, but I decided that I would do it myself. Although at that time I had quite little experience, and I did not fully understand how to implement this task, I spent the whole weekend doing it, and finally the team and I managed to win the tender.

8 years ago just 15 people worked in the company, it was really a family atmosphere. Now we have already almost two hundred people in different parts of the world, it is not one agency, but a group of companies. Everything has changed, but it has not become less cool. For example, our corporate events, especially summer parties, is a great tradition, it is the whole separate story.

The company was developing gradually, more and more projects appeared, and their scale also was getting bigger. The company was divided into groups - such "mini-agencies" inside Kapibara. Over the years I have worked in several of them, but for about 5 last years I work in the Alpha group — we create events, 360 TTL, POSM and work in digital as well.

You came to the agency as a designer, and now you are art director — in your opinion, what skills are needed for this position?

Despite studying at the university (my profession is art teacher), I went through all the stages of education right here, in Kapibara. I always had an inner feeling that in some aspects I didn't reach my colleagues' level, so I tried to evolve constantly: to learn new tools and use them in work.

By the way managers have never been against my training. For example, several years ago, I realized that I lacked some concept understanding: how to build it, how to interest a client - skills needed for creative work. So, with the company's help, I studied for a year at Wordshop and it yielded great benefits.

In my opinion the most important thing for an art director is to be sociable. If a designer works according to a clear requirements specification, an art director has management responsibilities as well. He must distribute the work correctly, convey a task to performer - designer, answer all questions and oversee the process at each stage.
With the team
So creativity is still a system? And I wonder how this system works for you now with telecomuting?

To have creativity you definitely need to build order first. We easily switched to a remote working, because for already a couple of years we have been using a smart system for online project management — Work section. Here we can see the whole process: how a manager set the task, how I then redistributed it between the designers and stages of execution.

Our team has already forgotten how to use email. Instead of meetings with the whole team twice a week in a meeting room, we have daily morning calls, we conduct creative brainstorms online as well. So, it does not affect our effectiveness at all.

Tell me more about your group. And how is your team formed?

We have a senior manager - Dmitry Stanchuk, managers, copywriters, and designers. We do not have a creative director in our group, so for some tasks we turn to the agency's creative department and sometimes we develop concepts ourselves. We take all decisions together in solidarity — for more than 5 years of working together we have developed a complete understanding with a senior manager, and my team of designers has not changed for already 2 years and is not going to (knock on wood).

Of course, we try to prevent a decrease in the quality of designers work due to the large number of projects, that is why we are looking for new people. Moreover, we need different specialists: those who are ready to come up with ideas, and those who would rather do more technical tasks.

At the interview stage I ask candidates in which sphere they would like to specialize and on this basis, I form a team of designers. Now we have a group with a cool illustrator, a 3D designer who is tailored to be creative, a fan of layout and the technical part of projects and a person who likes to pack it — all are universal, but with certain strengths. I am sure it is important to do what you like. Only in this case the result will be good, because the work will be done with a will.

Of course, I also look at basic skills required for our work, which, in my opinion, rely on four pillars: a sense of style, color, composition and knowledge of trends. Not to follow the trends even for a short time means to be one step behind.

And how to stay up to date with the trends?

There should be an inside sense of changes - when a person constantly is inside this information field: studies websites, goes to exhibitions, watches advertising campaigns, festivals, and analyzes all the time: which technique is used, why such color combination is chosen and so on. I try to leave 20% of designers' time for studying and discussing new things together.
By the way, not so long ago our colleagues from the "12" agency made a large selection of useful resources for designers: https://en.kb-12.com/tools. I can also recommend following accounts of foreign advertising agencies, especially German and Dutch - they are the founders of the design and set trends there.

Competitive spirit is also very important in our work. In order to have it we, along with a copywriter, as an elective, take part and win prizes at Young Glory, D&AD, Fakestival. While preparing cases, we discuss briefs with the team and try to solve them together.

To enjoy your work, improve yourself - this is important, but within all these years didn't you have a burnout?

We are lucky - despite the fact that we have been "leading" the same clients for many years, they are huge and have different brands. They have different requirements and tasks for us, and our company is growing as well. Everything happens so fast, it keeps me interested.

Whenever something like fatigue appears, I study. It helps me. For example, I was improving my skills in After Effects and attended calligraphy courses.

Winning tenders stimulates me even more in my work - here, as in a marathon, you run races with your competitors, and then victory gives you motivation for three more projects.

I ask beginners: "What is work for you?" Lots of them answer "bread and butter," but for me it's life. The main thing is to go for your work for 100%, then neither burnout nor fatigue will be a threat.

What is "KB-12" for you?

It's my family.