Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

Brand New School’s Magnus Hierta Discusses Professional Journey and Creative Influences

Production Company
New York, USA
During his tenure at The Martin Agency, Magnus was pivotal in winning and managing the global Oreo account
Magnus has had a diverse career, from ECD of Hue & Cry, the design and animation studio he founded, to a VP creative director role at The Martin Agency. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and began using animation as a means to relay concepts in his building designs. Magnus then shifted into design and animation, as the industry was beginning to coalesce in his native Los Angeles.

The need for consistent design-focused content led Hierta to start Hue & Cry in 2014 as an animation division of The Martin Agency, working on Geico and UPS, in addition to Oreo. In 2018 he spun-off Hue & Cry as an independently owned and operated studio, seeing the need for a top-tier design company that would use an amplified understanding of agency-side thinking to make better work for clients. Their efforts garnered international awards, including Cannes Lions, AICP, Effie, One Show, and D&AD.

Why did you decide to make the move to your new company?

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with Brand New School both as a freelance artist and as a client. From both perspectives, I was impressed by the collaboration, strategic thinking, and creativity they brought to the table. Their attitude and way of working are closely aligned with my approach to creativity. So when the opportunity came up to join forces I said yes immediately!

What is it about the team there that clicks for you?

This team is full of widely skilled artists who have spent their whole lives being creative. Seeing the fun they have working on every new challenge and having the opportunity to contribute is what keeps me coming in every day.

How did you first get in the industry? What was your very first job in the industry?

I was an architecture student who could do some passable 3D modelling. I got a short freelance gig with a small studio that needed a city modelled for a commercial. This job changed my life as I never went back to architecture.

Where did you learn your craft (film school? Mentored as a runner? Self taught?)

Mostly just self-taught in school and on the job. In school, my friends and I taught ourselves how to animate using this old program called Electric Image. No training, no tutorial sites, just an old fashioned manual and many hours of trial and error. Once working full-time I continued to learn
everything from my peers, just soaking up knowledge from whoever I was sitting next to at the time.

Before doing what you do now, did you work in any other field/ have any different career path?

In between my career in motion-design I had a long sojourn in advertising. It was a great journey that expanded my understanding of our industry and many others.

And which creative talents in your field have inspired you in your own career?

Geoff McFetridge is an all-time favourite. The perspective and insight he brings to life through minimalist illustrations and paintings always gets me going.

What was your first creative milestone in the industry – the project you worked on that you were super proud of?

I had the great opportunity to be part of the team that won the Oreo account for Martin Agency and launch the Wonderfilled campaign. I worked on that campaign for six years and helped bring some seriously amazing animation and illustration projects to the world.

And what recent projects are you proudest of and why?

My favourite two pieces are the Wonderfilled 90-second anthem launch spot and the Play With Oreo campaign. For Play With Oreo, we got to work with some of my favourite illustrators of all time to fill New York City and Los Angeles billboards with wonder.

Do you have any personal or side projects on the go? What is it, what inspired it and why is it important to you?

I’m working with my old creative partner on a story idea that reimagines how the United States gained its independence. Of course we recast the timeline into modern-day so it can be used as political commentary on oppression and social change. It was inspired by my time living in Virginia working at the Martin Agency and just seeing all the history in the region and by the current trend in autocratic government taking hold around the world.

What really drives you creatively?
My car

What are the aspects of your work that you really obsess over?

The messaging or logic behind the work has always felt more important to me than anything else. Obviously craft matters a ton, but if you don’t have a great insight or meaning the work can fall flat no matter how perfectly it’s rendered.

How would you describe your approach to your work?

100% hard work and effort. Nothing comes easy so I just put more effort into it than the next person.

When it comes to enjoying the creativity of others, what sort of thing excites and inspires you?

People who make it look easy.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about?

Wine, sailboats, and little bits of rope and twine.
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