Oren Aks is a Creative Director, Designer, Illustrator, & Social Media Consultant that bounces between Tel Aviv, LA and NYC. Oren also was the original designer & social media strategist behind Fyre Festival. You can find him on the #FyreFraud documentary on Hulu too. Let’s chat more with Oren about work life in this #DesignwithDot interview!
Meet OREN AKS: Creative Director, Fyre Festival Designer, illustrator & Founder of Atomic Milk
Oren Aks is a Creative Director, Designer, Illustrator, & Social Media Consultant that bounces between Tel Aviv, LA and NYC. Oren also was the original designer & social media strategist behind Fyre Festival. You can find him on the #FyreFraud documentary on Hulu too. He is also the founder of Atomic Milk.
It’s such a pleasure to have you on the #DESIGNWITHDOT blog Oren!
1. Do you mind giving yourself a little introduction on who you are and what you do?
I’m Oren Aks… born and raised in Los Angeles, but also sometimes in Israel. And my background is basically in design. So I’m a graphic designer, which now I’m a creative director and I also run my own social media consulting firm and I have a cannabis company that I’m working on right now, that I’m launching in the next couple of months. It’s focused on like health and wellness and kind of no smoking, no vaping that whole side of the industry.
You and I connected over the fact that I was the designer behind Fyre festival. And when I was working for FuckJerry, which is this big Instagram page, we started an agency together in 2016.
Our first client was Fyre festival and I handled the whole branding & social strategy by myself. So that was kind of crazy. And then a year to two years later, there were two documentaries Hulu and a Netflix one. And I was in both of them… I was interviewed in the Hulu one, but just in the background of the Netflix one, and then it went viral and the rest is history.
2. How has your life changed since the Fyre Festival documentary?
I love when people from our industry check out that documentary and it just gives it a whole different like lens, because I think most people are like, whoa, drama, but for us, it’s like, wait, who’s the designer. And I love that. But yeah, the ways that my life changed is mostly, you know, the fact that client work comes inbound and it’s less of kind of cold emails, cold calls and those types of avenues, which is a blessing because before the documentaries, that wasn’t happening. So basically I’m very blessed that that’s a constant now where emails are still coming in regularly where I’m able to also say no to clients. That’s crazy to me because a few years ago I was like, I’ll take anything and I need the money for whatever. I was taking like $500 for a huge project. So it’s nice to be able to just take that kind of step back and just be like, okay, I’m now in control of my career a little bit more. So that’s been my favorite part.
3. But what are the things could we think about playing with, and not only just in design, but strategy wise in our own brands?
So I think, you know, for me, it’s always assessing any clients environment, you know, the climate that we’re in… what are people talking about? What are people interested in? You know, is it a politically heavy time or whatever. Is it summer, so things are lighter? So just being aware of these things and not being tone deaf number one, but then understanding the community that follows the brand or finding a correct community. So I always start with community and I like to figure out who we’re talking to you know, and just honing in. So let’s say we’re just talking to surfers, whatever. And then from there, just trying to figure out like, okay, if surfers just see surfing videos all the time, it’s the same thing.
It’s just a guy or a girl just kind of, you know, flowing down a wave. How do we show them something different? Think about what is different in that space. AB testing, or somebody recently said to me, ABC testing. I like that there’s a C like another test, but yeah you have to test things. I would just say, think of the community that you’re looking at, think of what they expect to see and what they’re used to seeing, and then just flip it on its head and try to do complete opposite.
It’s incredible being able to build something that empowers freelancers and young creatives like myself. My role, Creative Marketing Director, has also given me the space to really execute what I’m passionate about and learn so much about content creation, management, and the VC world.
4. Working at a social first agency and working on an amazing social media campaigns, what would be some additional steps that you always take before you start a campaign?
I do a lot of deep diving, which essentially is like, just stocking, creeping, you know, like when you just like find all these people in an industry, and then you’re like, oh, and there’s another person that’s a surfer and another surfer that hangs out with the surfer. And they, they all hang out at this like surf shop. Oh, this surf shop is, you know, relevant in surf culture because A through Z reasons, because now you’re, you’re connecting the webs. And you get the full understanding of the people, the places, their thoughts, their passions and where did they post. Just any behavioral things and just figuring out the scene.
For example, they love this food. I don’t know if this is just my thing, or if anyone can do this, but I am able to see patterns and little nuanced things in these communities and just pick at them and say, okay, this little detail is where we can talk to the community about what we’re trying to achieve. So let’s say right now I have a client, we’re right now trying to figure out their community. And at the same time they’ve been working with a ton of huge influencers. And let’s say, I’ll give an example… they worked with a big skateboarder girl from Brazil. And just didn’t see any return on their activation with her before I came on.
And I’m looking through it all. And I’m like, why didn’t this perform? She has a great following, blah, blah, blah. And then I realized this industry doesn’t really spend money. Skateboarders are DIY. They’re not into fancy equipment. And this company that I’m working with, their whole thing is, is kind of on the equipment side. So, you know, we realized pretty quickly that we’re targeting an audience that might be interested in things that we’re talking about, but they might not be aligned. Yeah. They don’t have the capital, their time vs money ratio doesn’t align with our goals. So it’s like they might be able to use the app, but, or the thing we’re talking about, but they’re not aligned perfectly to succeed in what we’re trying to achieve.
So it’s a weird balancing act. A beauty blogger will spend to buy a light ring and they’ll buy whatever. So it’s something that’s really important. Yeah. Well, that’s the point you’re willing to put in the time or the money into getting the best. And some communities don’t really care about the best if they’re not going to buy the thing. So, yeah, so that was kind of our recent thing that I had to kind of, after figuring out a bunch of communities, we had like 20 communities and only found maybe five that would spend money or would, you know, put in the time.
5. So how do you think brands should be leveraging clubhouse since everyone’s trying to jump on to clubhouse? How do you see like brands really taking advantage of this platform? Should we be like making log-ins with our logos now?
It’ll be very interesting for sure. I mean, whoever does it will be very creative and strategic. I mean, we’ve already seen a few controversial rooms that got sponsored by some brands and a lot of people got mad. A lot of people were like, whatever, it’s natural. I think the easiest thing that I’m seeing is this… I’m talking to an author right now about helping him get himself out there. He’s a Stanford professor and an author, and he’s trying to figure out his book launch path. And I’m trying to put him on clubhouse as much as possible. I just think he’s trying to create his own place. He’s like trying to bring you into a zoom and I said don’t bother … the people are already there. So my hope is to team up with a lot of really good moderators and just have them bring him on and interview in various categories that kind of relate.
So introduce him to their network that might be interested. I’m not advocating for really fake and scripted conversations. Like the author should definitely keep it real and authentic to the space. But it is what he’s trying to do on zoom. So he might as well do it where the people are.
If you guys can go to @niceday and follow @niceday it would really help us out a lot.
7. How do you find your audience on Clubhouse?
Firstly, Clubhouse is verbal, but you can like type things on the app, obviously. And they’re obviously doing like voice recognition stuff, so they’re able to convert it to text, but I think that makes search and finding like in the algorithm, helping you find other things like really similarly, whereas Instagram with photos is not so good with search. And so obviously you use the search button.
Secondly finding people who talk about things that you like, start following them, start following the clubs that they create, the rooms that they open. And then from there, I would just start kind of like paying attention to what rooms they’re going in and just constantly checking into their room and making friendships with these types of people.
Cause they’re also going to be in the same room as other similar people. And then you kind of create these little pods of people, but you see them everywhere. They’re kind of like hopping in and out of rooms. And it’s a really interesting dynamic that yeah, it feels like high school.
8.How can we help support you and your next launch? Tell us a little about what you’re working on.
So support by just following @niceday, like nice days spelled correctly. And so nice day, you know, we’re a few months away from launching and basically helping us by just following basically is just showing us support for our launch. I’m trying to keep everything very like under wraps and secretive and having fun with that and it’s driving my friends crazy. Who’ve been following the page for like a year. But yeah, you know, we’re a cannabis company. So the focus of it though is health and wellness. My experience in that space is helping my grandma who was like on a lot of heavy painkillers at one point.
And just trying to figure out like a more healthy way to come off of those. And I just started kind of buying everything in the industry that I could find, and just fine tuning things until we could figure out something that helped her. And then I was smoking and I wanted to stop. So I started to figure out that there’s other ways to still enjoy the effects of cannabis just in a way that is just not bad for the body. And then I realized this whole industry of like cooking with cannabis and healing with it and sports medicine, and it just blew my mind. I was like, I’ve been smoking this for 15 years, like half of my life. And I never thought of doing anything. Like if you really think about what you do with your spare time and how much time you put into something, but you’re not.
And then let’s say you, skateboard all day long, all day long, but you also have a job which takes up, you know, nine to five, whatever, but you hate the job. Like if you put in all the effort into skateboarding and then pivoted to something related, you would put all of your energy into something that already interests you. So I realized I’m already spending all my time and money on smoking weed. Like, why am I not, doing something more interesting and productive making money off of my own interests? And I come from branding background, I can just do it myself. So all of those things kind of made sense to me. And I just wanted to create a product at this point in my life because you know, helping others and launching their product has been really fulfilling.
But it’s also sometimes really disappointing because you are not in control of what the client does at certain points. And sometimes they don’t always do things the right way, even though you’ve held their hand forever and guided them and consulted and designed whatever, but they still managed to somehow mess it up. So I just thought if I could do it for everyone else, why not do it for myself and just challenge myself because I’ve never done that. And I’m still in this like awe at like, wow, this is about to be my new thing.. my new career, like I went to art school 10 years ago. So to think of having a career change after a decade is kind of crazy. Yeah. And, and my buddy’s auntie who just posted there is you know, we did a lot of research and development in college together.
If you guys can go to @niceday and follow @niceday it would really help us out a lot.