Edwin Pineda has 14 years of experience in the industry. His time at Publicis gave him the experience of managing major brands in his first roll as creative director. The next step at Sancho BBDO brought him great recognition for his first Lion at Cannes, the first cover for Colombia in Lürzer's Archive magazine and also the most awarded graphic of that year.
At the end of 2013 he joined Geometry Colombia and after three years as creative director his results in business and creativity opened the door for him to assume the general creative direction of the agency from 2016 until 2020, when he became the creative vice president. During his tenure he has managed to configure a team that year after year manages to stand out in the main creativity festivals around the world and in 2019 it achieved recognition as the best agency of the year at Colombia’s El Dorado Festival. At 41 years old, he has been invited as a jury member on three occasions to El Ojo de Iberoamérica, Wave Festival and Young Lions.
Get to know him and his approach to creativity below.
What kind of creative person am I? Well, give me a problem and I'm like a child who is given a new toy to put together, I won't let go of it until I solve it or break something. This process reveals some aspects of my personality such as obsession and euphoria - from the positive that both characteristics have of course - because I think that when thinking of an idea the stage must be well served. I speak of few people with a positive and constructive vibration and this has a lot to do with my way of seeing the world, I think it takes very little to feel that you have everything you need and I try to keep this in my life, paying special attention to the criteria with which I select those few people, things, moments, occupations and desires.
Between innate and learned, there are several types of influences that define creativity, such as experiences, inheritances, coincidences and ideals. Rather than believing whether creativity is innate or learned I am convinced that what we are now is the result of many things in the past, events that had to happen for us to be where we are regardless of whether it is good or bad. We are just there being and doing whatever we are breathing.
I don't dislike routine, in fact, if you look at it as discipline it has a lot to say for when it comes to learning something new, from sports or keeping the spaces of conversation and moments with those people we care about. Now, if you look at it from the unconsciousness of acting where things are simply done for the sake of it and nothing else, well, I will always escape from that routine.
‘Escape’ is about going into the unknown at certain times, having an escape into the new and there I have found very valuable things in different fields. That's when my obsessive side gets its hands on the wheel again and I'm lost for a while until I finally decide to come back ‘home’, also for a while. It's a cyclical thing.
My criteria when facing a job and deciding if it is good or not for me has been changing throughout my career, partly because of my professional maturation process, partly because of the changes in the industry and also partly because of the successes and failures that always leave a great lesson. What I keep in mind today when evaluating work has to do with four elements: insight, purpose, craft and resonance. The four have a complete sense and play together in good work. A powerful insight undoubtedly shows an ability to connect people but now connecting alone is not enough, it must inspire or transform and this is when the purpose helps to focus this insight towards something bigger; the craft is key in the execution, it gives more power and if these three elements are in tune then with a good bet comes the fourth key point, which is the resonance, when the idea goes further than what was thought.
There are two campaigns that I am very fond of and I know everyone at Geometry is too. One was for Heineken, an idea we named ‘Move the Lunch’. The other we did for the United Nations. It took us two years to develop and is called Products for Peace. Both have good insight and clear purposes. The first was very funny because it sought to change the lunch hour in the country so that fans of the Champions League could watch the games, and the second was very social because it sought to turn farmers into entrepreneurs in a post-war context with the signing of peace in the country.
The creative output of the industry is always going to change. I am convinced that we should not waste time calling for nostalgia in an industry that will always be demanding us to be one step ahead of where we are today. And that should be our main concern - not worrying about how it was or if it will get worse or better in the future, it is not worth it. What really matters is to keep trying to do something different and everyone in this industry knows that it is not easy, it costs a lot. There is a phrase that can summarise this point very well and it was said by Jean Paul Sartre: "Let's not waste any of our time, maybe there were more beautiful ones, but this is ours." We must not forget the responsibility we have with society by being in the communication industry, we have the power to build and make it better than we see it, entertain it, unite it, educate it or even touch it. But if we lose the awareness of why we are doing what we do, then the outlook will not be encouraging because we would be irrelevant, without a point, easily forgotten and disconnected with which we would not be able to generate anything good for anyone.
When doing creative work, the first thing I do is focus on understanding the reasons that this work should exist. First I try to understand them from the brand's side and then from the people's side. They are not always clear and in this step the important thing is communication with the client and work inside the agency that brings them to the surface. This is a constant dynamic in the agency with the creative team, planning, production and digital. Here teamwork is fundamental and is something I enjoy - working with a small group of three or four people on a project where different approaches are shared, in which questions that build towards the purpose are launched is something stimulating and involves levels of discussion that I would not reach alone.
There are also times when I feel that there is a wall that does not let me move forward - something we have all felt many times when facing a creative process - when I feel that there is nothing valuable in what is being discussed or what is on the table. Here I always question three points. The first one is if maybe we are short of information, the second is about the angle from which the thinking is starting and the third - and most important because it is the essence of the previous two - is about people, if we are leaving them out from reason, if we do not understand them completely to approach them in the right way, if the lack of relevance is due to the fact that interests are not shared, etc. This always opens up new scenarios for me and unlocks the process by launching new possibilities and interesting angles that revitalise the process and bring back the excitement.
It is difficult to know when a job is ready and finished. We are always playing with the variables of time, money, relevance and quality. When I look back I see jobs that were very successful and I still see things that could be improved and others that turned out better than expected. But the truth is that I answer this question by saying that, although we would like to dedicate more time to the process, we are always playing with the variables of time, money, relevance and quality, we would like to dedicate more time to some projects and also less to others, a job is finished when it is published with the best possible equalisation of the variables I mentioned. It is about finding a balance where people receive something of value and the results are good for the brand and the agency. We must avoid looking at it only from one side when deciding.
I started in the profession because of my affinity to certain areas that I was very interested in at the time - music (I had a rock band at the time), photography and the opportunity to create things that at the time I didn't really understand what they were about. In college I was clarifying it and I found myself with semiotics that showed me something unknown capturing all my attention. I will never forget a class of the same subject in which they showed me a documentary by Noam Chomsky where he launched a deep criticism of the consumer society and showing advertising as a key soldier on the board; it was revealing, it was a face unknown to me until that moment that led me to ask myself questions that I could only answer as I grew in the profession, working with different advertisers with different points of view and ways that led me to embrace some positions and reject the heritage of others.
What we do has a purpose, it is not about us and less about measuring ourselves against colleagues. It is about people, we have the power to make the society in which we live more valuable if we do not forget the responsibility we have in these three lines with each project we face (people, brand and agency) and the purpose must be able to unite them and make all three win.
Edwin Pineda is chief creative officer of Geometry Colombia