Kelvin Mak, originally from Malaysia, began his advertising career in the US. Based in Los Angeles, Kelvin worked for clients including PlayStation, HBO, Xbox, Sony Electronics and Land Rover. He made the move to China when advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi asked him to be the creative director of their Beijing office. With the freedom to flex his artistic muscle, he created campaigns for brands like Nike and Volkswagen. Not just an ad man, Kelvin has also worked on events such as the award-winning “Nike Battle of the Nine Gates” basketball tournament inside the Forbidden City and the Mercedes-Benz “Symphony of Ice & Snow” in Harbin. Ready to step out on his own, Kelvin recently co-founded a creative agency inventively titled The Bag Ladies. Kelvin visited students at the Beijing City International School and told them how comic books inspired him, why he likes to make funny commercials, and what he’s working on at the moment.
Bradley, 10, US
How did you get into the advertising business?
I went to art school where I met a counselor who looked at my work – he said I’d be better off in the ad field.
Aaron, 10, US
What inspires you in your everyday life?
I do daydream a little bit; I look at people and watch what they do. I observe the little things and try to create stories based on what I see. It could also be a funny movie, a piece of art in a museum, or a joke from a friend.
Roman, 10, US
What is the name of your company?
My company is called The Bag Ladies. I went from working in a big skyscraper, and now I’m out on the street. Like bag ladies, I work hard and collect the best things for my clients.
Jinny, 11, Korea
Why did you start your own company?
I like a challenge. The company I used to work for had more than 300 people; now I have my own company and it’s much smaller so I can be more involved. It’s intimate and I work better that way.
Malwina, 11, Poland
Why did you choose this job?
After you study something you want to see if you’re any good at it in the real world. You have to give it a go, so I decided to try hard to get a job in advertising.
Ada, 10, Australia
How do you come up with ideas?
You really just use your imagination. It’s important in advertising that you get a brief from the client (a mission statement); you take that brief and use it to come up with an idea that’s best for the client. Advertising encourages amazing ideas.
Tadi, 10, Zimbabwe
Does anyone inspire you?
I would say one teacher in college because he never liked any of my ideas. He’d tear up my drawings and tell me I could do better – he really pushed me to be the best I could be.
Daniel, 10, US
How many people are involved in producing a commercial?
It depends on the ad. I did a car commercial in China that started off with four people, and then we hired a visual effects company of 40 people who came on to finish it.
Skyler, 10, US
What type of advertisements do you like to make?
I like to make TV commercials. Being able to use CG [computer graphics]allows you to do things that would normally be impossible. I like funny, goofy ads that I can watch many, many times and still enjoy.
Tina, 11, China
Were you good at art when you were little?
I picked up a pencil and it came very naturally to me. Even if I was no good at something, I’d trace comic books and get used to how other artists did it. You can learn from them and then create your own style. You have to practice but always have fun with whatever you do.
Roman, 10, US
What was your first commercial?
It was way, way back. I think it was a diaper commercial. When you’re starting out you have to do things that aren’t much fun, but it was a chance to learn.
Tamar, 9, US
Are you working on a commercial right now?
We just finished an ad yesterday for UNICEF. It’s for their new campaign about raising awareness of disabled children in China.
Valentin, 11, Mexico
Do you travel around the world for your work?
If we come up with an idea that requires us to shoot for example, in northern Scotland – like we did for Land Rover – then we have to do that. Sometimes shoots require us to go to amazing places.
Ada, 10, Australia
Do you go find clients or do they come to you?
I think like any business, people have to know about you and what you do. I approach clients and show them my work, and sometimes friends or old clients who know about me and like working with me give me a call. Having good relationships with people goes a long way.