New Hire: Mara Binudin
July 29, 2011

There’s a new Art Director in town. Her name’s Mara Binudin. She arrived at Tribal DDB Toronto from Paris in July. And she kicks ass. (Literally.) What struck us first about Mara was her huge and impressive portfolio of digital work on French brands such as Evian, Peugeot, Armani and Kenzo. We quickly learned that there’s much more to Mara – as evidenced by her answers to these 10 questions:


1. True or false: You can judge a book by its beautifully designed cover?

I come from a culture (France) where book covers are extremely sober. French people love looking like intellectuals, and being caught reading a book with a beige cover and a serif font will make them look profound and cool. Sometimes covers go wild with a black and white photo or an expressionist painting. Basically anything more than that is considered frivolous. I prefer asking myself what beautifully designed covers mean in different cultures.


2. Why did you leave Paris?

After living 14 years in the Philippines and 14 years in Paris, I felt like I needed to look for new challenges. Life was great, but I don’t like getting too comfortable and satisfied.


Also, I have always felt attracted to opposites: I’m half French, half Filipino. I come from a Catholic and a Muslim background. I loved math as much as art growing up. I love violent sports but I am very polite. I think balancing opposites leads to harmony. I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t more French than Filipino by living the same number of years in both countries.


3. How does that idea of balance inform your approach to art direction?

In chemistry, opposites attract. I like to think it’s the same for art, people, ideas, poetry, music . . .


The association of opposites is unexpected and provokes reactions, leading to emotions, excitement – they change our point of view.


Then you have to create the right balance for these opposites to work in harmony. Balance and harmony are the basic rules of composition.


4. Have you noticed any big differences between the way they make ads in France and the way we do it here?

France can sometimes get high on, “la seduction.” Airline company ad: why show a plane when you can show a poetic ballet instead? The slogan of a coffee brand is, “A coffee named desire,” with ads showing a man and woman’s irresistible attraction leading to a passionate kiss. And to promote the benefits of a healthy natural yoghurt, they’re not afraid of showing a naked woman. French people don’t even know it’s funny. They love their beauty, poetry, seduction.


5. What’s one thing you learned at Gobelins that continues to inform your work today?

Be curious, work hard and stay humble, because there are talented people everywhere.


6. What’s your favourite design-related quote?

“A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”


7. What technological trend are you most excited about and why?

Touchless hand-gesture-recognition technology. And I can’t wait to have a chip in my body that replaces my ID, credit cards and house keys.


8. What do you get out of Full Contact martial arts that you don’t get at the office?

I get to punch people, or be punched in the face. I don’t know which I prefer!


9. What’s the difference between art direction and design?

Art direction is a vision for something that will provoke an emotional reaction. Design is the technical execution of that vision.


10. Our industry would be perfect if only everyone could just _________?

. . . stop tempting me with pizza whenever we work late.