Brittany Riley Talks Good Feedback

Brittany Riley is a Kentucky native, lifelong maker of things, and our brand spankin’ new Group Creative Director. We sat down with her to talk about how she got here, what determines good and bad feedback, and finding inspiration in performance art.


What got you into advertising?


I went to to University of Kentucky and got two degrees, one in English and another in art, specifically photography. That led me to a gig at a small theater in Kentucky, working on their internal marketing and taking pictures of the shows. There was a guy there who had gone to portfolio school and he worked in advertising, and I was like, “What’s advertising?” and enrolled in Miami Ad School. Well, the San Francisco location.


Any favorite plays from your time at the theater?


I worked on Dracula a lot, haha.


So you had been a creative person but not a “creative” in the ad sense?


Yeah, I don’t think I had ever considered that it could be like, a job. I used to paint, and take photos, and I was interested in fashion… Lots and lots of projects. Eventually I learned how to finish them, kinda.


Was there anyone in particular that inspired you?


Yes, Vanessa Beecroft. She’s in the fashion world, but she’s more like a performance artist. She’s incredibly interesting and weird, I recommend checking her out. So her and Cindy Sherman – I became a little obsessed with her feminist art. They were my two biggest influences in college.


So now that you’ve been in advertising a while, is there a golden rule to what makes good creative?


I think what I’m looking for, first and foremost, is people who make me better and push me, and I feel like I have that here. I don’t really know if there’s one thing that makes good creative, but I know working with people you like, and maybe think similarly to, is a priority. But sticking to the brief is a good idea, haha.


How about feedback? Is there something that makes good feedback?


I like top level feedback: why it doesn’t work, can I fix it, are there suggestions on how to fix it, or should I just move on? That’s the first thing, is it worth it to keep going? I don’t think anybody should have to spin their wheels on work if they can just move on to the better idea.


How about bad feedback?


I don’t like vague feedback, where it’s like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with it, but just keep going.” I just don’t feel like it’s helpful. You’ll have the creative just going around and around in a circle. But there’s also too much feedback. Pixel nudging back and forth, that kind of thing.


But sometimes you have to nudge, right?


Yeah, but there’s two different states of feedback right? There’s a very high-level concepting stage, where things should be about the merit of an idea or how to improve it. And then there’s the day-of, nitty-gritty, get it done stuff. It’s important to keep those two things separate and not treat them the same.


Well thanks Brittany, we…


Oh, and personal feedback. Don’t do that during creative feedback. Okay, I’m done.


Thanks for reading our interview with Brittany! If you’re on the hunt for inspiration, she recommends checking out Ash Thorp’s website, a “super-techy jumping-off point for great design.”