JWT has long claimed it invented the grilled-cheese sandwich for its client Kraft decades ago. In 2010, when the WPP agency acquired Digitaria, the agency that Daiga Atvara co-founded with Daniel Khabie 15 years ago, it took a step toward applying that model to digital -- not just creating advertising, but creating user experiences around its clients' products.
Ms. Atvara, long a fixture of the San Diego tech scene, is now helping one of the oldest Madison Avenue institutions figure out how to create for its clients not just advertising but digital products. Ms. Atvara is the creative force behind such projects as the recent Brand USA website DiscoverAmerica.com that Digitaria designed with JWT. The site is a travel tool featuring U.S. destinations and experiences like scenic drives or Cajun food.
It's an interesting project for Ms. Atvara, who was born in Riga, Latvia, and whose career spanned print design on both sides of the Atlantic. A scholarship in photography and sculpture brought her to the U.S., where she later met Mr. Khabie at a San Diego ad agency.
So what are her plans now that she's part of a decades-old agency?
"My mission is to talk more about design," she said. "Not just art direction or decoration, but design as a fundamental component of how people use things."
What's something about yourself that tends to surprise people?
I can weld and pour metal to make art or fix machines.
What career advice would you have given yourself when you were starting out?
Reach out to people you admire. Most likely they will answer.
What is your favorite book?
There are way too many that I love. For the mind: "The Glass Bead Game" by Hermann Hesse. For fun, "Perdido Street Station" by China Mieville. For the soul, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez.
And your dream vacation spot?
I would love to go on a trip with Captain Nemo to see the wonders of the ocean. Or go to space.