"I'm one of those annoying high-maintenance creative types who's very sensitive to my environment," says Wieden & Kennedy Tokyo Creative Director Azsa West. "Friends at work tease me about this because it's so predictable. It's like every two years I get this pull towards a new adventure." Which might explain why she's had a stint at four different Wieden & Kennedy offices: Portland, New York, Shanghai and her current home, Tokyo.
In the Tokyo shop, her work has included Nike's transfixing music video "Run It." Set to a track by Korean-American rapper Jay Park, the buzzy piece of branded entertainment released ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea celebrates rule breakers. Directed by the French duo We Are From L.A., the video features surreal scenes of baseball players in the snow and snowboarders on a frozen city freeway. West was creative director on the effort and worked with creatives Jordi Luna and Jason Scott. "The idea came from their magical crazy brains," West says.
The video was shot in winter in South Korea with a big cast. "There were all sorts of logistical problems with the weather and with also the language barrier," says West. "When you're working overseas in a new country, it can be very humbling in some ways, as there are a lot of things about the culture and process that are ever evolving and new."
West grew up in a California surf town, on a healthy diet of creativity. "My mother was a graphic designer in the '80s. She was my main inspiration. She used to design surf logos by hand with an airbrush and X-Acto knife in her studio. My father was also a skateboarder and taught me how to ride my first skateboard when I was in first grade." She went on to study illustration and photography at California College of the Arts. Her Wieden tour began when she joined the agency's experimental ad school program W&K 12 in Portland, Oregon.
In Tokyo, West also worked on a campaign for a new Shiseido beauty line, Waso. It featured diverse models and an unusual, artistic brand video blending technology and time-lapse videos of flowers.