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How’d You Get In: Ron Smrczek

Posted on March 1, 2012 and read 2,499 times

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Ron Smrczek was one of Ignacio’s first teachers in “The Biz,” his wisdom contributing to the inspiration that launched IHAVEANIDEA more than ten years ago. It was only a couple of years later that Ron joined TAXI Toronto and gained global recognition for his work on Nike and Viagra; a winning combination that saw him take multiple Gold Lions at Cannes, and ultimately a role as Creative. In 2008, Ron was appointed Executive Creative Director of TAXI New York, overseeing integrated campaigns for, among others, New York Life, Blue Shield of California, and History Channel – which was nominated for an Emmy. To complete his tour de TAXI Global, Ron became ECD of TAXI Amsterdam where he continued to push creative boundaries in new markets. But where did Ron get his start, and how’d he get in?

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Ron Smrczek 1 Howd You Get In: Ron SmrczekI first picked up an interest for design in high school. A friend of mine was just starting his first year of a Graphic Design Program. I used to sneak into his classes once in a while just to see what being a designer was all about.

After high school, I attended a community college about an hour away from Toronto. Conestoga College. It seemed a bit out of the way, but the Graphic Design Program had a stellar reputation within the design community and a consistently high graduate placement.

Sometime in my second year I met Matt Miller – who was to become my third-year teacher and post-graduation, a good friend. He frequently shared stories about his time in the advertising industry, or as he liked to call it, “The Biz.” The Biz sounded great. I wanted to be in The Biz. So I changed gears and spent the final year of that program replacing every design assignment with an advertising one. By the end of the year I had completed what somewhat resembled an advertising portfolio.

I signed myself up for the Advertising & Design Club of Canada’s Student Portfolio Review. It was the first time showing my book to anyone outside of the classroom and I didn’t really know what to expect.

The event was packed. The industry’s top creatives mingling with the industry’s potential future. We were all assigned tables. Three students per table. Three reviewers per table. Rotate on 15-minute intervals. I’m sure you know the drill.

I found my table and sat across from two other students. The first of the three reviewers I would meet that night sat down in the chair beside me. We shook hands and exchanged introductions. So far, so good.

It only took minutes for him to flip through the pages of my book and tear it to pieces. He told me that I should go back to school. Then left the table; he needed a coffee.

The next ten minutes were excruciating.

Avoiding the indifferent stare of the vacant chair beside me I found it impossible not to see the other students all getting their whole fifteen minutes of feedback and encouragement with their reviewers. I struggled not to close my portfolio and leave.

Maybe The Biz wasn’t for me?

Thankfully my persistence or stubbornness prevailed. My next reviewer, Brian Howlett, would later offer me an internship at Toronto agency Axmith McIntyre Wicht (now Agency59). That internship turned into my first job in advertising: as a junior art director. I stayed with the company for over six years.

I like to think that it only took me ten minutes to get my first job.

Thanks Matt, Brian, and that guy I never want to be.





  • Anonymous

    This is so inspiring and makes me want to continue to drive forward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Freakandelegance Fe Cielo

    Calm and never-give-up spirit is the key to success, in addition to drinking your own cup of tea in pursuit of pinnacle in life.

  • Edward Bell

    i have a few ideas i would like to talk to someone about but i dont know where to get started.. i have a idea about art water work that may drop a new light on how we see our homes. Everyone will want to be the first one on the block to have one of thes…


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