Oh Maria, she’s truly put a fire in our bellies with her passion, activism and amazing words of wisdom! Maria has two companies—Molaría, where she works as creative director and creates powerful ideas and loves it when ideas surprise her. She also runs Teta & Teta, a creative co-working space with their own free the nipple brand! Maria showed us this empowering video, that she’s even talking to Zuckerberg about! Lazer tits power! ⚡️💖⚡️
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design copywriting? I really didn’t realise I was a creative person until I started working, by 1998, OMG!
When did you fall in love with design copywriting / creativity and how did you get started? I started in Contrapunto, a creative agency composed mostly of trainees, we were all so young, and so lost, we had to learn from zero all in the same boat, it was a great time, best time of my career, because, if you did something well, applause, if you didn’t, nothing happened. I fell in love with this profession immediately, my life was at the agency.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I studied advertising in an American school here in Madrid, I didn’t like at all, I lost 4 years, in Spain, studying advertising is like studying business sciences, there is no creativity at all, it’s grey and boring, it doesn’t prepare you for real agency life.
My first jobs: Contrapunto, Young & Rubicam, Cathedral, McCann Erikson, TBWA…until I started my own creative studio, a little one, I stoped working for big clients like Coca-Cola or Red Bull but I felt ok, big clients risk less, at least, in this country.
Let me say something important, to me, it’s very very important for students choose the people they want to work with, not the studios they like. They must choose the person they want to learn from, you might happen to find brilliant people in regular studios and vice versa.
“Let me say something important, to me, it’s very very important for students choose the people they want to work with, not the studios they like.”
What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?
When I finished school I was completely lost, I didn’t know what I wanted to study, I choose Advertising by process of elimination. I didn’t have a passion, a strong hobby or a special talent for anything. Nowadays I think that if you don’t know what you want to study the best way to know it is discarding what you don’t want. I also think that you have to see where life takes you. Things sometimes happen better by chance, chance is important to me.
“if you don’t know what you want to study the best way to know it is discarding what you don’t want”
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. I am a creative person who does naming, copywriting, thinking, ideas, avoiding stereotypes or common places. If you need an idea, and ideas are powerful, I can help, I can surprise you.
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
Well, right now, since I have two brands (Molaría and teta&teta), I do a lot of things in one day. Most of the work isn’t creative, as a small studio, I have to care about production, accounting, account executive, I hate it but someone has to do it. (In Spain, recruitment is very expensive, the government doesn’t help small business, it’s so sad) The only part I miss from working in big agencies is that my only responsibly was be creative, end point.
What are your three must-read design/copywriting books/blogs/podcasts and why?
Since I start working, I’ve always read a lot, I learned quickly that the only way to learn how to write was reading a lot, novels, graphic novels, autobiographies (I love autobiographies because you can learn a lot from how other people emerge from conflict, at the end, life has plenty of problems, conflicts) poetry, essays. I’ve always run away from best sellers and topical literature. If you want to think different, you can’t read a best seller, unless the bestseller is Instrumental from James Rhodes. You must read classics, writers with Nobel prizes, National books awards.
What do you look for in a great portfolio? I look for big, great ideas. I look into the heads, freshness, surprise. I don´t look at the executions, just the ideas.
What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate? The most important for me is the attitude, and I can tell I see the attitude in the first email I receive from a student. If he surprises me on his first mail, he starts wining my heart even before I’ve met him (or her). If the student strives to get an interview, this is a great starting point, he’s advancing with a great attitude. Surprise is probably the most important word for me, in my work and in my life. Is there anything better than being surprised and saying wow?
“Surprise is probably the most important word for me, in my work and in my life. Is there anything better than being surprised and saying wow?”
Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for. My principal studio is Molaría (it will be nice), I started it in September 2007. I run it and work as a creative director, I do naming, copywriting, ideas, concepts, I love to think… but I also do accounting, production, executive accounting, arghhh.
My other brand is teta & teta, I started it in march 2013. It was conceived as a creative co-working, I created it because my old partner—my art director, with who I started Molaría in 2007—decided in 2011 he was going to leave to Switzerland with his family, we never closed Molaría, just the physical office, when my partner decided to go to live in Switzerland I had to decide between keeping it and continue it on my own or going back to an agency. I decided to keep it, haha. I was working at home alone and I started to languish and decline, like a plant you don´t water. I called it teta & teta, teta is a synonym of fun, but literally teta means boob. One day I painted a pair of boobs in a t-shirt, just for fun, just because it had sense with the brand, I posted it on instagram and surprise! It succeeded, I received a lot of messages from girls that wanted it, so I started making these tit-shirts and realised it wasn’t just a funny t-shirt it was sending a message, it could empower girls, suddenly, my brand had a social mission, to nourish the free the nipple movement. I didn’t plan it, all by chance, can you see? Chance is important 🙂
How do you solve conflicting ideas within a group of collaborators? When there is conflict, I never impose my will on others, I listen, of course, to me the best way to get out of the situation is testing the idea with someone you admire.
Are you involved in any mentoring/teaching/workshops and if and how it shapes your practice?
Yes, I’ve been teaching since 2005. Copywriting and creativity. My classes are practical, the premise is: let’s simulate this is an agency, you are trainees, I’m your boss, here you have your first brief. I learned working, making mistakes, filling trash cans, so I learned how others can learn.
Do you ever wish you were a freelancer or in-house designer?
I am a freelancer and, despite all these accounting and producing etc roles, I love to be free.
How did you develop your style as an illustrator copywriter and what tips would you have for others?
—Run away from common places.
—When you think you’ve got an idea and you execute it, look out for flaws, make it better simplify.
—And be humble, please, very humble, be open to learn from others, be humble with others and with yourself, ego is your worst enemy, don´t think that your idea or your copy or your design is great just because you did it, that’s easy. And a mistake.
—Ask yourself a lot of questions. Can I do it better? Can I simplify? Does it surprise me? (If it surprises you, it will surprise others) but you have to be humble enough to be honest with yourself.
—Be generous, share what you know, share your ideas, two people can make better job than one.
—Accept criticisms, they can make you learn more than they hurt.
What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it? Big disasters happen and thank goodness!—they make you evolve.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self? Mmm, I don’t know, if you’re lost, just let things happen, and meanwhile, don’t wait until things happen because they won’t knock on your door. Read, go to the movies, go to museums, watch Ted Talks, nourish your brain, be a nice person, experiment, learn by yourself.
This world is a mess, unfair, if you’re lost maybe you can try to do something that can help to change the world, if you want to become a great designer, don’t forget the activism part, please.
Forget about working just for money, find something that makes you happy and that pays you the rent, money runs the world and here we are.
“If you´re not necessary (needed), be special”
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way? —If you´re not necessary (needed), be special.
—Attitude is more important than talent.
—Great teachers are made by great students (and not the other way around). I mean, the teacher doesn’t make the student, it’s the student who makes the teacher, I don’t know if you understand this. The better student you are, the better teacher the teacher will be. If you don’t put in effort, teachers won’t be able to teach you anything.
—Be a sponge, read a lot, go to the movies, museums, watch videoclips, sit on a bench just to watch people, observe a lot.
—Run away from common places.
—Don’t be on Facebook and instagram all day…
—Don’t google when you’re thinking for ideas, the brain is a muscle, train, you have to be able to come out with a great idea in an airplane, with no 4G, no wifi, just you, a piece of paper and your brain 🙂
“The better student you are, the better teacher the teacher will be. If you don’t put in effort, teachers won’t be able to teach you anything.”