By Egotist / /
We’re coming down to the wire for 32 Under 32. In fact, we’ll have a special double interview tomorrow to finish off the series. Today though, we’re talking with Silas Reeves, a senior art director over at John McNeil Studio in Berkeley. He’s the second 32 Under 32 winner from there. Enjoy.
What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?
This spring we launched an awesome new campaign for CA Technologies featuring all the different ways mobile apps are changing people’s lives and showing how CA drives that transformation. From TV spots like “Love is powered by software” to print and digital ads with a modern “glitch art” aesthetic (a way of creating new artistic works through software bugs and code errors), apps were everywhere in this campaign. I worked mostly on the print and digital expressions, and I’m currently working on concepts for the next round of TV, focusing more deeply on how apps are changing everything from elections to national mindsets.
What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?
I think it’s the people who have encouraged me here at John McNeil Studio. Not only is everyone amazing at their respective roles, they’re also bold enough to work across disciplines, and many people maintain artistic or creative practices outside our professional sphere. Aesthetics permeate our culture here, whether it’s in our studio environment, our conversations in the kitchen, or over coffee on the patio. I think the combination of that encouragement to experiment—and also to work toward a shared vision of beauty and art—makes me feel more confident, so I’m more willing to take risks and push myself harder.
In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?
I recently helped to redesign a website for The Poetry Center of Chicago, a non-profit that brings poets into schools. My friend, who’s the director there, told me that the new site has gotten them tons of exposure and opened up new opportunities, which will hopefully lead to more grants for their programs. Knowing that more fourth graders are getting a chance to explore their own creativity makes me feel really good.
We hear you “nerd out” on flags. Flags? Really? How’d that happen?
Growing up in a military home, there were often flags, badges, and insignia on display. I was fascinated by all the different symbols and shapes, so different from the lines of my comic book heroes. And the classic pirate flag, of course. Perhaps it’s cliché, but I wanted a pirate flag. As I got older, I learned what logos were and what heraldry and coats of arms meant, how people use them to create identities and personal or cultural histories. Recently I discovered vexillology, which is the study of flags, and then was commissioned to make a wedding flag for two of my best friends. So I looked at Japanese samurai flags, nautical flags, and French crests into the wee hours until my attention finally flagged.
Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’ll be hiking up a quiet trail in Japan when I get an alert on my augmented reality contact lens that the FY26 kickoff meeting is about to start in Stockholm. I’ll summon a personal autonomous flying vehicle and we’ll zoom there just in time for first crack at the Semla bun.