Meet our next #FREDAGirl, creative earth angel, and Digital Design Director at WIRED, Olga Montserrat. As a passion project, Montserrat runs a successful personal blog called twelve:ofour, and in between in all still, finds the time to work on her paintings. She exemplifies the saying “beauty meets brains” and then some. She is a confident, self-expressive, badass and we couldn’t be happier to share her work with all you!
What did you want to be when you were a child?
As a kid my aspirations were so simple: be creative and successful. I knew I wanted to be a creative, but I didn’t know exactly what. I also knew that I wanted to rise above the socioeconomic situation I was in with my family growing up, so I definitely knew that whatever my career would be as an adult, I had to be successful. I was very aware of our situation as a kid and I wanted to do something about it. I felt a self-imposed pressure to succeed, to get out, and to make my parents and myself proud. That really has been my driving force. My parents worked hard to provide me with every opportunity and what I wanted most as a kid was not to let them down.
We love your curation of design, fashion, and art on your blog twelve:ofour. What inspired you to get started? How has it changed over time?
My blog twelveofour.com has been my longest running personal project so far. Style is a personal form of branding that can be experimental, fun, or uniform. It’s a practice that I think deserves the same editing and discipline I apply as an Art Director to brands and companies I work with. So my decision to start a blog was almost instant because my interest in fashion aligned with what I love doing in my professional life. When I started I didn’t overthink it, I just started typing. I named it “twelve:ofour” as a placeholder for a more creative name later (it’s my birthday, December 4th) and launched the site on Blogspot. A decade later it is still my creative release.
My blog has changed and grown with me over time because it’s a reflection of me, my tastes, and desires. Now that everyone has a blog and there is technology to allow everyone to have a platform the real challenge right now is maintaining authenticity and creativity. A lot seems templated now, with the same poses, the same concepts, same styling, and the same approach. So my inclination is to now more than ever focus on my original creative ideas and being real, even if that means showing imperfections.
As the Digital Design Director for WIRED, what does a typical day for you entail? Is there a project or series of projects that you’re most proud of?
A typical day at WIRED starts bright and early at home with my laptop, a cup of coffee, and my couch. As the Digital Design Director I was in charge of making sure the digital experiences across all platforms were the best they could be. So first thing I’d be checking the site for bugs or issues. Once I got in the office I attended the daily print and web meetings where the editors discuss upcoming stories for the day and the week. I’d meet and collaborate with the design team to coordinate efforts for the upcoming print features. Then I’d sit with the technical team and tackle some UX issues. By the time the meeting party is over it’s lunch time! WIRED has an in-house chef and kitchen and they have some of the best meals in the Bay Area. After that me and my team got to work then we do it all over again the next day.
I loved working at WIRED because I feel like it made me a better creative. I loved working on the special guest edited issue by President Barack Obama and I loved being surrounded my some of the smartest and most talented creatives in any industry. I’ve learned that having a healthy dose of personal projects make me a better and more original creative professional, so right now my paintings are a big focus.
What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?
A creative rut is just me becoming my own worst critic; It’s like I’m lost and I don’t even remember with my own point of view as a creative. It’s usually an indicator that it’s time to reconnect with things that I love, like spending time with family. Talking to them and being around them centers me and gives me the perspective I need to feel optimistic and inspired by how lucky I am that I get to do my job. No one else in my family has the luxury to be creative all day and get paid for it, so it reminds me to stop whining, roll up my sleeves, and get back at it.
Has learning from a mistake ever lead you to success?
My entire career so far has been learning from mistakes, editing, and moving on. In a way, I’ve always been an art director because I’ve spent my life curating myself, my career, and my style, and for the past decade that’s all been on public view via my blog. Making the decision to live out my mistakes, experiences, and successes in a somewhat public way has opened many doors for me and allowed me to meet amazing people. Mistakes are not failures to me, they are learning moments, and keeping that optimism has been my key to moving upward and onward.
What is your personal or professional motto?
Like Conan O’Brien said in his last episode NBC’s Tonight Show, “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard and you’re kind amazing things will happen.” Work hard, be kind: It’s so simple and so important to have both qualities. I have great aspirations for my personal and professional work, and I believe I can get ahead in life without being unkind.