Q&A with Rosey Lakos, Director of Creative Operations, Godfrey Dadich Partners
March 13, 2018
Thinking differently is essential in today’s industry, and having a voice is imperative. This month’s interview subject comes from Godfrey Dadich Partners (GDP), the brainchild of founders Scott Dadich and Patrick Godfrey. One look at their website and you’ll see that GDP is strategically spreading their creative wings across magazines, television, advertising and more. This month, we spent some time with their Director of Creative Operations, Rosey Lakos, to find out about where this amazing group comes from, and where they are going.
Ian Spanier: Who are the founders of GDP, and what sparked the idea to create the design firm?
Rosey Lakos: Godfrey Dadich Partners was founded in January 2017 by co-CEOs Patrick Godfrey and Scott Dadich. Patrick is an architect of strategy who had been leading Godfrey Q, a successful B2B agency for many years. Scott is an award-winning designer, accomplished editor and filmmaker. The two met when Godfrey Q was working with WIRED to offer strategy and rebranding support. I was actually at WIRED during that time working in the photo department, and my first introduction to Patrick was from that side of the fence.
Scott and Patrick developed a collaborative working relationship as well as a friendship through that experience. It wasn’t until December 2016 that they fully formed the idea of merging their two worlds to create a new kind of agency, one that would in fact not be called an agency, but instead a design firm. I think that they had both accomplished a lot and were ready for something new, something that would allow them to use their knowledge and expertise in new ways that were actively responsive to the changing industries around them. Neither of them is the type of person that settles for doing the same thing repeatedly, even if it is a good thing. GDP came together from a passionate and disruptive energy that continues to be a guiding principle of the firm.
IS: Godfrey Dadich may call itself a design firm, but it is clearly something more. What do you think it is that defines GDP.
RL: GDP designs strategies, experiences, and stories. The firm is defined by not only it’s unique design lens, but by the people that are the life force of it. Since it evolved from an existing agency, its roots are in advertising, but as it has grown into this new thing we call GDP, it has been infused with a group of really talented people with editorial, entertainment, engineering and marketing backgrounds. Every experience we create is from a design point of view, whether it be a strategy, website, logo, ad campaign, story or TV show. We hire people, not positions, which has enabled us to create a curated group of talent that offers a multifaceted skill set for our clients, and an inspiring work environment.
IS: How do you find artists to work with?
RL: I utilize my networks from the fine art and editorial world. I am constantly looking for new artists that excite me. Instagram continues to be an amazing tool for discovering work, and I talk to people in my network and ask them what they’re into. I look at magazines, I go to see exhibitions, I basically am always open to learning about new projects and artists in any way that I can. I love seeing work in person and meeting artists, as that always allows me to connect and understand their work in a way that viewing on a screen just can’t.
IS: How do you work with photographers and illustrators, and how is it different than working with people in editorial?
RL: First and foremost I seek out people that do good work. The biggest difference between working with artists for editorial and at GDP is that there is the additional consideration of the client. It is not just about the work that they create, but also about how they work and collaborate with us, and even more importantly, with the client. It is my job to find artistic partners that can create strong work as well as be nimble and flexible as the process unfolds. I work very closely with the artists and their agents, and it really is about that relationship. Fortunately for me, I still get to work on editorial projects, as we have clients seeking us out to create editorial content for them.
IS: What is your experience of teaching your clients the role that good art can play in their business?
RL: I went to school for photography at California College of the Arts and worked as Todd’s Hido’s assistant. When I arrived at GDP a year ago, I took the challenge head-on and really had to dissect for myself what it was about a particular photographer or illustrator that meant that they were not only the right person for the job but would also add indispensable value. It all comes down to trust, and if we have that with our client, then we can guide them through the creative process and introduce amazing art to them that elevates the work they are doing and helps them accomplish their business goals.
IS: GPD is also connected to the show Abstract on Netflix. How did this exciting project come to light? Are there plans for more episodes?
RL: Yes, it is an amazing show and as a creative, it gives you that look into the process that you always crave, that peek behind the curtain. Abstract is a documentary series about the visionary designers shaping the world around us that Scott, along with creative partner Dave O’Connor, created and executive produced. They loved the process of working together to make Abstract, and Dave joined GDP as our president of entertainment. We’re really excited about what comes next for the platform.
IS: For many of us, it’s hard to know where the future of magazines is going. Where do you see this difficult journey headed?
RL: Yes, this is definitely a hot topic. Magazines are in the middle of a huge transition as the way that people consume information is transforming. I think that it is a normal human reaction to be fearful of the unknown. We’re witnessing something that we are familiar with turning into something different. Magazines as we know them are certainly evolving in the form that they are taking, and it has caused a big disruption in the industry as the focus shifts digitally. As this transition continues, magazines will have to be fluid in their response to the market and their readers. Old models will not continue to produce the same results, so new ways of communicating will need to be established. There are parts of this that are bittersweet, but it is also a really exciting moment as it gives way to new ideas and new kinds of storytelling to be established.
IS: At this point, you’ve seemingly grown exponentially as far as your staff goes. Can Godfrey Dadich maintain the “small shop” creative-to-client relationship?
RL: We definitely grew a lot in our first year, which was in response to the work coming in the door. We are not interested in growing for the sake of being big, and we are focused on growing in the way that is right for us. It is imperative that we maintain the small shop dynamics as that is what our business is based on. It all comes back to relationships. Even in the way that we are creating our own culture internally, it has more of a family feeling than a corporate one.
IS: What advice do you have for photographers today in this very crowded market?
RL: I believe that there is always room for more good work, even in a crowded market. And it isn’t enough to be just technically good, you have to find that particular groove that is unique to you. When I was working with Larry Sultan in school there was this thing he told me during a critique that really stuck with me. He said, “Use what you got.” What he meant was that you have to find that thread in your work that belongs solely to you, that thing that defines you. If you can find that, then the rest is just a matter of hard work, logistics and fate. Beyond that there are some basic things that I highly recommend: Keep your website up to date, be persistent without being annoying (it’s a very fine line), show what you can do by actually doing it, have a consistent Instagram presence, have excellent communication skills, show up on time (too early is just as bad as being late), get a kick-ass agent and, lastly, deliver quality, not drama.
Ian Spanier is an award-winning advertising and editorial photographer based in Los Angeles and New York City and a PhotoServe member and contributor. As comfortable as he is in the studio, he can face any challenge presented on location. Ian’s first full book of published work, Playboy, a Guide to Cigars, documents his travels to nearly every country that manufactures cigars and is available at fine cigar shops and at major bookstores. His second critically acclaimed book, Local Heroes: Portraits of America’s Volunteer Fire Fighters, is out now in stores and online. You can visit the book’s Tumblr Page here. Spanier is a member of the Lowepro Team, Photoflex’s Pro Team, and Imagenomic’s featured photographer list. He has been the recipient of numerous awards from such major photo competitions as American Photography, SPD, The International Color Awards, The International Black & White Spider Awards, PDN’s World in Focus, Planet Magazine, and Seeing the Light, to name a few. Finally, he is a regular lecturer for SMUG, as well as for The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Ian Spanier is available for assignment. Questions or comments, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more of Ian Spanier’s latest advertising and personal projects, visit his site at www.ianspanier.com. He is represented by Big Leo.