For the Love of Art and Advertising

Paul Wind is always on the move

From his early elementary school days into adulthood, Paul Wind has always been drawn to the visual arts. As Art Director at Subject Matter for the past three years, he has brought that childhood connection to the arts into his professional world where he helps conceptualize and develop creative for some of our largest clients, including the Association of American Railroads and Toyota.

Before joining our team, Paul worked at a Falls Church ad agency and then moved to a smaller one in Georgetown. He was lured by the opportunity to work with bigger clients at Subject Matter. One interview and one “audition project” later, Paul was in.

We recently sat down with him to talk about his love of art, how it has influenced his perspective, what project he’s loved working on most and why he’s so dedicated — rain, sleet, sun or extreme frigid temperatures — to riding his bike to work every single day.

Subject Matter: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in art direction?

Paul: When I was in first grade, I remember drawing little army characters all over my notebooks [laughs]. I wasn’t sure what to do with the creative energy when I got to college and ended up pursuing an English degree. I always found myself going back to something visual, and English didn’t scratch the creative itch, so I picked up a graphic design major as well.

SM: How has your background in visual arts influenced how you see the world?

Paul: It’s kind of a curse. It’s impossible to avoid seeing ads every day, and it’s hard not to look at those ads and think about how they could be improved. Should it be more vibrant, more subdued, less text, more text. Is the message right? Are the visuals right? Working in advertising has actually made me much more critical about the ads I experience on an everyday basis.

SM: How do you approach client work at Subject Matter? Would you say you have a creative process?

Paul: [Laughs] I wish I had one, but I don’t think there’s something set in stone for any one project. For me, it helps to think about a key message the client is trying to relay. There’s no wrong road to go down, as long as that avenue aligns with our creative brief. Even if it turns into a dead end, at least we’ve explored it and thought about it and know why it works or why it doesn’t. Creatives all have different approaches, but the process always relies on answering what’s in the brief: What is the client trying to say, who are they talking to and what does that conversation look like?

SM: Have you had a favorite project?

Paul: We pitched a bunch of ideas to La Clínica del Pueblo, which wanted to launch a campaign promoting condom use. The twist was that the audience was very specific: Latino MSMs (men who sleep with men). You never get to talk to such a specific group like that, which means you essentially get to learn a whole new way to communicate. It was a unique opportunity to think about the way we’re approaching ads — and in the end, we had some really cool stuff to pitch.

SM: Which one client or company would you like to work on?

Paul: I’ve already worked on planes, trains, automobiles, and boats so maybe some kind of underground transportation? [Laughs].

SM: One of the things you’re best known for at Subject Matter is riding your bike to work every day, no matter the weather. What got you hooked on that mode of transportation?

Paul: I really hate sitting in traffic.