We’re back with the next installment of our staff spotlight series! The next interview is with Neven Samara, AVP and Creative Director in our San Francisco office.
Christian Hendricks: How did you begin your career in creative?
Neven Samara: I have always been a creative person. Since I was a child, I really excelled in artist endeavors as well as math (weird combo). When I was applying to college, my dad suggested I look into graphic design (somewhat technical, artistic, and best of all, you can actually get a job!) I got accepted to my dream college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, double majored in Art & Design and Graphic Communication, and the rest is history.
CH: As a creative director at Fenton, what would you want people to know about the firm’s creative capabilities?
NS: Our team is always growing, but no matter how big or small our team is, we do it all! We care deeply about our clients and the causes they represent — this is why there’s such immense passion in our department. We work with a lot of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and other companies and are very used to creating something out of nothing.
CH: You’ve been with the firm for seven years. What are some standout projects that you have worked on during this time?
NS: I think the real standout thing is that there has never been even one project I did not feel passionate about. From 360 campaigns to branding projects, elevating, teaching, and pushing the boundaries has always been part of every project. Recently, I have gravitated towards Fenton’s branding capabilities and helping an organization determine what their personality, voice and visuals are (and how they brand out to all the parts that follow). This is always a really exciting process.
CH: Tell me about a risk you’ve taken professionally that has worked out.
NS: Becoming a director in my field. I was offered a director level position without really having the experience to back that (don’t let anyone know), and I really “faked it till I made it,” and look at me now! It really worked out to take a jump. In all honesty, I probably was ready for it, but you never feel that way when you are doing it.
What social causes do you care about deeply?
NS: How can you ask to pick one! That’s the beauty of working for an agency like Fenton — I don’t have to. I deeply care about them all. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.
CH: Who (or what) are the biggest influences in your life?
NS: My friends and family, hands down. They have made me who I am. I am first- generation Croatian and Palestinian and grew up in a very activist-oriented household. The heart, passion, history, and tradition I grew up with was — and remains — very pivotal in my life. My friends bring unmatched compassion, excitement, boundary pushing, support and love. And, of course, my little baby Elia (and her two moms) has just changed my life in ways I cannot express.
CH: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
NS: Oh, this list is endless! Of course, I spend time with friends and family. I am a HUGE camper and hiker (I love anything outdoors), cooking, biking, walking, art (jewelry casting, illustration, sculpture, glass blowing, etc.), movies (BIG horror buff), supporting my passion projects (one of which is being a co-op owner of a historic queer bar), building things, and traveling as much as possible.
CH: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
NS: This is hard because I’m such an open book. Maybe that I have over 30 tattoos (I lost count)? And that I really dislike the internet — not my thing. Also, I’m a bit of an animal whisperer and have an uncanny ability to befriend most animals.
Thank you, Neven!