loading
drag

How I Got Here: Frank Body’s Art Director on why you should embrace career curveballs

WORDS BY MAGENTA PORTER

Always keep learning, even if it doesn’t seem relevant to your day-to-day.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?


Looking for more career advice? Subscribe here and we’ll send it straight to your inbox each week.


Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

This week we speak to Jennifer Scalzo, the Art Director of hugely successful Australian skincare brand, Frank Body. She talks us through her non-linear career path, from designing postage stamps and working for tech companies to landing her dream role in the beauty sector.

Jennifer’s story is a prime example of why you should embrace every career curveball as a new source of creative inspiration, and above all, why you should always stick to your goals, no matter how out of reach they may seem. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

I am the Art Director for Frank Body. I am responsible for concepting and producing all of the photographic and motion content, direction and strategy for the brand and marketing campaigns. 

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story.

I studied a Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) at Swinburne and was accepted into the industry placement program in my third year. This meant I worked part-time whilst studying and experienced my first proper job in the industry. While all my fellow students were placed in cool studios and agencies, I got a position in the Philatelic Department at Australia Post designing stamps. Although I was admittedly initially apprehensive about the obscure topic, it taught me so much about attention to detail, work ethic and bringing your A-game to every brief, no matter the subject matter.

After graduating from university with honours, I worked as a graphic designer in the very unglamorous world of catalogues and mass retail marketing before moving into finished art at a tech company. I was feeling pretty disillusioned with design at this point as I had always imagined myself working in the chic world of fashion or beauty (cliche, I know) and so far my career was decidedly average. 

I was pretty lucky in 2015 to be approached on LinkedIn by the Cotton On Group and moved into a graphic design role there which finally felt like a step in the right direction (keeping in mind I had applied here several times before with no luck). I worked there for almost five years, progressing from a graphic designer, to senior graphic designer, then finally to art director where I led and managed a small but mighty studio team and produced some of my first photoshoots.

I joined Frank for a change of pace at the start of 2020 and was in the office for a grand total of six days before we went into lockdown (not the best timing). It was not how I imagined my first year with the brand going, from not being able to produce shoots at all to having to do them remotely. 2020 threw a lot of curveballs at me and creatively challenged me to think of new ways to produce content in an isolated world. I’m incredibly blessed to work for such an inspirational and progressive business. Since lockdown has lifted I’ve been fortunate enough to film my first ever television commercial and see large scale campaigns I first concepted while isolated at home come to life and roll out worldwide.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by frank body (@frank_bod)

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular?

My biggest challenge has been learning to find confidence and a voice in my expertise. I am an introvert but I am also very ambitious so progressing in my career – be it through managing a team as a senior team member or presenting and managing concepts and strategy to key stakeholders – has been a personal learning curve. It’s not something that ever came naturally to me, but to be an art director you have to back your decision making and at the end of the day on a photo shoot, you’re the boss!

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role? 

A lot of my time is spent planning. My role is very much end to end – ideation to creation – and I really enjoy the holistic view as it allows you to be strategic about creative decisions. It’s not all just pretty mood boards, there are a lot of spreadsheets and planning documents as well.

What’s the best part about your role?

Getting to be on shoot sets and seeing my concepts, planning, and hard work come to life, which happens by working with amazingly creative and talented people. And more specifically working for Frank; I love that I get to work for a business that supports progressive thinking in all areas and champions empowerment and diversity in marketing.

What would surprise people about your role? 

I run and produce a lot of my own shoots and manage a budget, all of which I’ve learnt along the way as they don’t teach you things like that at design school. It’s really beneficial to manage both the creative and the analytical side of concepts as not only are you exposed to so many different areas of a business and how it runs, but you get to manage the project end to end. Secondly, it may be surprising to some that I’m not skilled at photography, videography or styling (I always get asked to take photos at events for people’s content). I leave that up to the experts; as the title suggests, I’m good at directing!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by frank body (@frank_bod)

What skills have served you well in your industry?

Starting out as a graphic designer, I learnt very quickly how to take feedback and to not be too attached to ideas (unless you feel strongly about them of course). When you’re working for someone else you have to remain flexible and put aside your underlying personal opinion to get the best outcome for the brief. 

I find creatives are good at being respectful of other people’s ideas and expertise/skills because we universally experience feedback in all areas, since creativity is so subjective. I think it’s an invaluable skill to not only be able to work with other creatives and suppliers for shoots, but more importantly, to ensure everyone feels included and heard.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day? 

A big part of the reason I got the job at Frank is because I had been taking on freelance clients in the beauty industry on top of my full time work. Not only did this help highlight my love of design (and skincare!) to the very entrepreneurial owners of Frank, but it also showed my genuine interest and expertise within the beauty industry, which helped broaden my previously fashion and retail-centric portfolio.

What about a practical tip? 

Always keep learning, even if it doesn’t seem relevant to your day-to-day. I think the most beneficial thing I did starting out was taking on any brief given to me and spending time with coworkers outside of my direct team to understand how the wider business worked, even if the scope was a little outside of my comfort zone. I learnt a lot quickly and I was able to apply it to opportunities that came up, which I think sped up my career trajectory.

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series here.

Looking to step up to a career in design? Each week we send a wrap of industry jobs straight to your inbox. Enter your details below and we’ll keep you in the loop, or browse current openings here.

Lazy Loading