12 Questions: Fred Shamlian

Fred ShamlianHi, I’m Fred Shamlian.

I live and work in Media, PA, a tiny mecca of creativity and America’s first Fair Trade Town. Shamlian Creative is a close-knit team of strategists, designers and storytellers who create beloved brands. Our mission is to engage our client’s customers in ways that make a difference in their lives. As Creative Director, I contribute strategy, concepts, copy and designs. Branding and marketing are core skills, while 25 years of service to credit card issuers has stoked our passion for card design (over 1,000 and counting). Clients include leading banks, a major retailer, real estate developments, professional firms, restaurateurs Michael Wei (Yangming) and Marty Grims (Moshulu); our new invitation design studio, TorahDor; and a pro-bono program in collaboration with Temple Sholom in Broomall to encourage acts of kindness.

You can reach Fred at:

Shamlian Creative
105 West Third St, Media, PA 19063

And now, the 12 Questions.

1. What kind of kid were you?

Chubby, smart, adventurous, loved, happy.

2. What influences have shaped you?

Raising a family…living in a fraternity (PiKA) …Apple…Sensei Tsomu Oshima, who led karate special trainings at Carnegie-Mellon…fellow Love Agent Caldwell Davis, who beamed brightly…the Jersey shore…Chekov…Beethoven…Woody Allen…nature…and being a Fred.

3. Ever done anything really dumb?

Who, me??

4. How’d you learn to do what you do?

I created my first ad at Msgr. Bonner High School, for a Creative Writing Contest. More ads followed for the Carnegie-Mellon Karate Club, sparking 7 weeks of heated discussion in the school paper about sexism…and my first advertising awards.

In his first job after college, my dad became the entire marketing and creative department at Barr’s Jewelers (now Zales). He did it all: strategy, media planning, concepts, copy, design, and production. I learned from him, and I’m grateful for the gift he gave me: a 360º view of client opportunities.

Many other teachers followed. Al Goldman of MARC and Company taught me the poetry of simplicity and the joy of puns. Henry J. Kaufmann – founder of the Washington DC agency HJK&A, my first employer – taught me grace in the face of adversity; Victor Sonder, my CD at SonderLevitt, showed me how to live large. And smart, generous clients at Chase, Barclays, Bank of America and Discover taught me the fine points of data-driven lifecycle marketing.

5. What are you working on now?

  • A campaign for the built-to-order homes at Haverford Reserve
  • Brand identity and site design for a new mobile payment product
  • Credit card designs for Bermuda-based Butterfield Bank and  their partner American Airlines
  • Corporate identity and a new website for Niyonu Spann Associates, organizational transformation specialists

6. Walk us through a typical day at work.

 7:30 am email, project/vendor coordination, strategy (“What questions do we answer today?”)
 8:45 am meditate
 9:00 am creative team briefings, goal-setting, critiques, brainstorming
12:30 pm lunch (usually at my desk, keeping up with new technologies)
 1:30 pm progress reviews and direction
 2:00 pm client communications + proposals, meetings
 6:30 pm where did the day go?

7. Who do you love?

Everyone – at least, that’s my goal. Highly aspirational to be sure, but I know that the more beauty I see in people, and the more I can be a force for good in their lives, the richer my life and my world will be. At Shamlian Creative, a compassionate love for the customer has brought a powerful new intelligence into our work. Love asks different questions and illuminates the most meaningful ways to engage and delight. In an age where marketing means engaging, better relationships begin with love.

8. What are you passionate about?

My family and friends, my team, my clients, the future of our country, the need to preserve nature, the status of guys in the world today. I love bold ideas and great product design…theatre and architecture…old cameras and books… exploring great cities like New York, Seattle, Tokyo and London. I love body-surfing, zooming down a winding road on fresh asphalt, cooking on an open fire, chili chocolate, the dumplings at Yangming, my son’s music, my wife’s pottery, and playing ping pong with my son Chase, who really should let me win.

9. What are you proudest of?

#1.  My sons, Forrest and Chase.
#2:  The America West “Surprise & Delight” in-Flight Experience.
#3:  Our interns. For 24 years, we’ve been blessed to work with hundreds of passionate, talented young people from all over the world.

10. Describe a great night out.

A warm night, a full moon, friends, a pristine lake, and a waterfall.

11. So what’s next for you?

The ultimate Love campaign.

12. What will your epitaph say?

Fred loved us very much.


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