As the head creative guy at the agency, and with 2010 marking his 20th year in the ad business, it shouldn’t come
as a surprise that Ron Sawchuk is smart, creative and talented.
What is notable is the diversity of his smartness. Ron is a thinker, philosopher and intellect. He’ll admit he gets some of his creative inspiration not from advertising publications, but rather, Sergei Parajanov, a 20s Soviet-Armenian filmmaker and Franciszek Starowieyski, a Polish poster artist. Other influences include Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist, and Dr. Reverend Samuel Sawchuk, a relative who started the Ukrainian Orthodox church in Canada.
Ten minutes in casual conversation and you might think you’ve been in the company of some sort of enlightened design-artist oracle. Which explains why Ron can juggle many hats as head of the McKim’s entire creative department. His immense experience means he can shift the fundamentals of an advertising campaign with a few swift questions and observations, and when needed, make things happen at lightning speed, such as a promotional campaign starring Sir Bob Geldof. His creative side means he can inspire team and clients, and help bring about award-winning projects.
But there’s one hat for which Ron is less known: a horoscope enthusiast.
One of the hallmark traits of the Libra is striving for balance. In Ron’s case, he matter-of-factly declares this about himself, and admits he uses it to his life’s advantage. You could say Ron’s coût d’être professionally as a designer and at home as an artist is all about give and take, push and pull, and me and you.
In his “5 to 10 time,” Ron continually has creative projects on the go. Oil paintings, multimedia, illustrations, sculpture and what he describes as “large gestural ink washes.” Some pieces take more than a year to simmer, he says, before actually getting them down.
In his 9 to 5 time, Ron intentionally wants and needs to set the artist aside.
“That bouncing of ideas off one another – I need that,” he says. “My role here is about the team and mentorship. It’s about bringing a nugget of an idea and letting others learn from it, and then finish it off. I have to give it away.
“Whereas in my art, it’s all about me. My personality and psychology are wrapped up in my art, which makes it very personal. Sometimes I like to make my art messy, because that throws off the symmetry often needed in business.
“But I think there’s crossover between the two worlds,” he continues. “Sometimes I struggle with it. Sometimes I need it. And I think that’s good.”
All of this makes Ron a huge asset to the agency and clients, and of course it strikes the right chord in his need for balance.
“What I like about McKim is our ability to really represent this market. We can design and think from the perspective of our client’s personality, but can also put on our advertising hats and think from the perspective of our client’s audience. We develop messaging that’s meant to last a very long time, maybe even for the lifetime of a company. That’s when we’re wearing our designer hats. But we’re also an ad agency that needs to help the client speak to its consumers in short intervals. That’s how we set ourselves apart in this market.”
Ron worked at Palmer Jarvis (PJ) Winnipeg, where for 11 years he moved up the ranks from Designer to Associate Creative Director. When that agency merged with McKim Communications in 2000, Ron was made Creative Director. Today, he’s McKim’s VP Creative Services.
“I’ve always wanted to be with the best shop in Winnipeg, and this is the best shop in Winnipeg.”