Roman Ruska has worked as creative director and a consultant, developing and designing campaigns, editorials, packaging and corporate designs for more than 30 years. The former Scholz & Friends creative director was commissioned as a creative for national and international accounts such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Deutsche Bank, Kiton, Lufthansa, Kraft Foods, Douglas, Beiersdorf and Zalando and has received more than 50 international design awards. In 1998, Francisca Martín and Roman Ruska together founded their agency Ruska, Martín, Associates GmbH in Berlin. The agency, which in recent years regularly ranked among the 50 most creative German agencies in the Page Ranking.
1. What was your very first job? What does it feel like to look back at it now?
My career started with distributing flyers from a jeans store in a pedestrian zone. Then I learned that how is more important than what. Friendliness and openness to people are the key to everything. So you don‘t just sell jeans. My first real design job was a record cover for the independent unit of Deutsche Grammophon founded by Tim Renner. From today‘s point of view my ticket to a very open view on design — because music is extremely emotional and subjective. As a cover de-signer you are part of the composition, but you can also develop a strong antithesis to the sound, which makes the whole thing new and creates tension.
2. Please describe, in your own words, what your current job is and what work it entails.
Conception, creative and art direction of campaigns, packagings, corporate designs, magazines and publishing projects. Consulting for companies, brands and people who are looking for depth and strength and who have the courage to have an honest and independent identity. I like to do jobs like a journalist and scientist — nothing is more fulfilling than finding the core of something. Or to create it like an artist.
3. How did you discover that the creative world is right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this disco-very? Which train of events did bring you to where you are today?
Fashion and music magazines have always attracted me magnetically — since I can think. Especially those from England: they were like messages from another world where anything is thinkable and doable. And in which new styles and forms of expression are created. When I was 15, I designed the school newspaper in the evening in a pub, which kindly pro-vided me with their copier. Here I glued together headlines from Neville Brody and Vaughan Oliver fonts for hours.I was lucky to find two mentors from whom I learned 1. a lot about art and design and 2. a lot about writing and text as a tool for developing ideas. I have never planned my career, but have always followed my deepest interests. And I learned to recognize real opportunities.
4. In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how and where do you usually find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant?
I actually find Instagram a very exciting platform at the moment. Hidden beyond all the posers, phonies and show-offs there are some extremely innovative macro scenes (mostly with very few followers), which are very open and playful but also disruptive with the medium, images and texts and lead a very lively dialogue. I myself post very free works and ideas under pseudonyms and so I always find kindred spirits. In addition, interviews from the most different areas are my source of inspiration — how differently people think and how they talk about something I don‘t know yet, is a cosmos that enriches extremely.
5. If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation it required, rather than its recognition or industry “success,” what would it be?
I am clearly most proud of the fact that for more than 20 years I have not only raised two children together with my wife and partner Francisca Martín, but have also been successfully working together and managing the company for 20 years. This is a very long time in our business. This is probably the supreme discipline and requires innovation and openness every day, because fortunately we not only have different interests but also different ideas! To win more than 50 international design awards is a nice confirmation.LeBook: Which creative disciplines do you commission most, and are most interested in seeing more of and why? (ie photo, film, social, experiential, vr, etc)I think a lot of innovation is still possible in the area of documentaries/film and real or VR experiences. Plat forms such as Netflix and Apple Plus and smaller niche platforms are completely rethinking the medium of film and we are currently doing the same. Together with two partners we are working on a magazine format that does not exist yet. Everyone who reads this and feels addressed is cordially invited!