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Edi Inderbitzin: “Take your time. Don’t stress”

I am trying to show teenagers that the world they consume is not always real. Most of the content on social media is carefully put together and curated to attract viewers and get more attention. With my project “Every Waking Hour” I wanted to show different facets of life and hopefully ease some of the […]

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I am trying to show teenagers that the world they consume is not always real. Most of the content on social media is carefully put together and curated to attract viewers and get more attention. With my project “Every Waking Hour” I wanted to show different facets of life and hopefully ease some of the anxiety that young people experience as a result of comparing themselves to other people’s highly edited online personas.

I myself work in advertising and I can tell you that behind that one “OMG, this is such a great latte!” post, there might be a whole army of strategists, designers, photographers, managers, agents, and a brand wanting engagement for their money.


Aspart of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Edi Inderbitzin.

LA-based Edi Inderbitzin is an award-winning creative director. He started his career in Hamburg, Germany, where he worked at Grabarz&Partner Hamburg on accounts like Volkswagen, Stern and IGFM. After winning several accolades, including Cannes Lions, Clio, NY Festivals, ADC NY, and ADC Germany, Inderbitzin took a creative sabbatical at the Miami Ad School Europe where he gained opportunities working at Saatchi&Saatchi Stockholm, DDB Stockholm, CP+B Boulder, and Y&R NYC. During that time Edi won Young Gun Student of the Year for the work on Kinder Surprise, a D&AD inBook for Deutsche Bank, and a Global Best Digital Award for McDonald’s Burger Roulette.

He then was recruited by Doner Detroit to help create work for brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat and KBB. In his first year at the agency, he created the award-winning work for KBB.com, helping the brand introduce a whole new website and grow click-through rates.

After Detroit, Inderbitzin went to Boulder, Colorado, to work at CP+B and help re-launch the iconic American brand, Fruit of the Loom. He and his partner were lead creatives on the brand helping to produce work that was recognized by the NY Times, Creativity Online Editor’s Pick, TIME, and more. He also worked on brands like Domino’s, Microsoft and Jell-O.

Two years later Inderbitzin decided to pack up his bags once again, but this time to take an-around-the- world backpacking trip to work on his photography skills and re-energize. This trip led Inderbitzin back to Germany where he worked for 2 years as a freelance Creative Director for agencies like Heimat, Jung von Matt, DCMN, DOKYO and Plantage on brands like Heineken, Coca-Cola, Netflix, Mini, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and many more. Most recently, Inderbitzin was an ACD at RPA Los Angeles where he worked on creating advertising campaigns for Honda, Farmers Insurance, and Apartments.com. His work for Honda has been featured in various publications and won several awards. On Farmers Insurance, Inderbitzin and his team partners made several spots for the well-recognized “We Know From Experience” campaign. He worked on several pitches and collaborated with internal stakeholders from all departments to bring the team’s ideas to life.

At the beginning of 2019, creative director and photographer Inderbitzin started the project “Every Waking Hour.” The project was created with the intention to bring awareness to depression among young Americans caused by social media. By taking a photo literally every waking hour for a year, he spotlighted the normal, “not curated” life to show that there’s beauty in every waking moment if we’re willing to take a closer look.

Inderbitzin is Swiss/Mexican and was most recently a CD at RPA, Los Angeles.

He is also Co-Founder and Creative Director for Viva con Agua California, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensure that all people worldwide have access to clean drinking water.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

I’ve always been a very creative and curious person. I always drew all over my school books, sketched on the tables and when confronted with math questions, I would come up with interesting stories of why and how the two trains met.

When I was 17 and living in Portugal, I attended a German school where part of the curriculum was a trip with our class to Germany. While in Hamburg, I saw a poster in the subway for a graphic design, advertising and photography school. I didn’t even know something like that even existed. I was excited to see that there was an outlet for my creativity. The next few years I spent a lot of time building my portfolio to get into that school. It worked out and I moved to Hamburg to study graphic design with an emphasis on advertising. During my free time, I took photography classes and worked in a bar close to the red-light district. That is not a relevant part of the story but linked to many fun memories I have from the time.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have a really short-term memory for mistakes. I make sure to always keep my focus and momentum forward. But a recent one I can remember is from when I did my latest photography project “Every Waking Hour.” I set a timer that went off every hour. At the beginning, I forgot to tell people that I was doing that and it went off in the weirdest situations. It didn’t matter what I was doing or who I was with, the timer didn’t care and started beeping. Being on the toilet at work, sharing an intimate moment, or having a meeting with clients? BEEEEP! I learned to tell people early on why I always had a camera with me and that a timer might go off in a bit. The reactions were always positive, friendly, and curious. The lesson here is to be open to the things you love and are passionate about. Most people are genuinely interested in what you are doing and it helps you start a conversation.

By the way, that timer became both my companion and the most hated sound for a year. Even now when I hear that sound, it triggers me to look for my camera.

Can you describe how you are making a significant social impact?

I am trying to show teenagers that the world they consume is not always real. Most of the content on social media is carefully put together and curated to attract viewers and get more attention. With my project “Every Waking Hour” I wanted to show different facets of life and hopefully ease some of the anxiety that young people experience as a result of comparing themselves to other people’s highly edited online personas.

I myself work in advertising and I can tell you that behind that one “OMG, this is such a great latte!” post, there might be a whole army of strategists, designers, photographers, managers, agents, and a brand wanting engagement for their money.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I’ve heard from a lot of people that they’ve shared my project with their children and have shown it at different schools. I hope this project reaches as many people as possible who are inspired to share with the world, a more honest and complete story of themselves, the bodies & spaces they inhabit, and the lives they live.

I know for a fact that photography is a powerful visual medium through which you can represent subjects, old and new, through different lenses in order to effect personal and social change. Suitcase Joe (@suitcase_joe) is an example of a photographer whose work has inspired me in this regard. He photographs the people and the community of Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row has existed long before Joe, but he is capturing its humanity in a way that I don’t think has ever been done before.

On a most basic level, that was the idea behind my photo project — to capture the beauty that is always there but usually ignored and forgotten.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Society sets expectations. Let’s set more realistic expectations; stop using various apps and tools to achieve a narrow idea of perfection. Nothing is perfect and there is beauty in imperfection.

The community represents how we gather around those expectations. Let’s engage in more honest conversations around our use of social media. Let’s encourage people to be more open and true to themselves. And the way we achieve that is by being brave enough to do so ourselves, and by promoting an online culture of respect, diversity, and acceptance. In a safe community, we should feel just as inclined to share our life’s downs as much as its ups; and we should be able to make mistakes without fear of being “canceled.”

Politicians are responsible for funding our communities’ mental health resources. You can measure their support of a particular cause by how much funding they are allocating to it. Mental health issues in general, but also teen suicide and depression, are grossly underfunded causes. I would say start by increasing financial support to organizations that are set up and fighting teen suicide caused by social anxiety and fake role-models, thereby allowing these organizations to expand their reach.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To me leadership is less about a set of personal traits, and more about describing someone’s relationship to, as well way, of interacting with others. There are quiet leaders, and there are loud leaders for example; we shouldn’t try to typecast what a leader looks like because there are literally infinite possibilities. Rather we should define what leadership looks like in action. To me, that’s helping others reach their full potential by acknowledging their talent, empowering them with the tools they need to succeed, and handing them the opportunities to use all of the above. A good leader knows their greatest asset is their team and therefore makes sure to surround themself with the best people they can find.

When I was a teenager living in Portugal, we went on a family vacation to Mexico. After a long day at the beach, we returned to our room and my father checked his phone. My father always takes off his watch and puts his phone away on vacation. I recall he had missed a call from someone at his company. He shrugged his shoulders and put the phone away. I asked him why he didn’t call back and why he wasn’t concerned. He looked at me with a smile and said, “I hired some of the best people, and I am sure they can take care of the company while I’m away.” I didn’t understand right away, but after a while I understood that his inaction wasn’t as much a refusal to interrupt his holiday as it was a vote of confidence in his team that he left in charge.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Follow your gut. — When you have an idea and you feel a rumbling in your stomach, that’s when you know you have something special and you should go for it. When your tummy feels a bit weird about a decision you’re about to make, listen to it, it’s your subconscious telling you something. Took me some time to learn to listen to my gut.
  2. Share your ideas. — I was always very precious with my ideas. I didn’t share or show them to anyone. I mean, they are like my babies after all. But for them to grow I had to learn to share them. The more I shared my ideas with friends and family, the bigger and stronger they became. It was a valuable lesson that I learned from my friend Niklas Frings-Rupp (@Nikspeed3000). If you can’t share your ideas with your friends because you’re afraid they might steal them, maybe you should reconsider the friendship. Good friends will give you an honest opinion and that will help you shape that idea.
  3. Always listen to your mom. — Always. 😉 Enough said!
  4. Take your time. Don’t stress. — The more you stress about a project, the higher the chance to fail. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and not think about a project or a problem you have and without thinking, the solution might pop up. It’s weird how our minds work, but the more you stress and think about something, the less creative you are.
  5. Be humble. — Always be humble. Thank the people you work with. Be nice to the staff and everyone around you. And don’t take anything for granted. I was lucky I learned that early on.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As Creative Director and co-founder of Viva con Agua California, I would like to introduce our organization and invite everyone to join our movement. Viva con Agua is a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that all people worldwide have access to clean drinking water. To achieve this goal, we promote water projects and actions at home and abroad. Something that sets us apart from other non-profit organizations doing similarly great work is our approach: we are firmly convinced that even serious topics in the world can be treated with joy. Our fundraising campaigns utilize music, art, fashion and every kind of creative expression to reach a wider audience. I think more organizations should tap into the power of positivity and the universal appeal of the arts to help them succeed in their mission.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Go with the flow.” A friend of mine, Norbert, tends to say this pretty often and it truly helped me relax and let things happen. Especially while I was doing my latest project, going with the flow really helped me to get some very interesting photos and meet some amazing people. I wasn’t overthinking, I was just flowing and taking photos along the way.

I found this explanation that brings it to the point:

“If you just go with the flow, no matter what weird things happen along the way, you always end up exactly where you belong. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. There is no past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. There is really nothing but the flow.”

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d love to meet Colleen DeCourcy. I’ve always admired her vision and leadership. She’s been leading the creative work for one of the best agencies in the world for years. Every time I think it’s impossible to make better work, she and the entire agency manage to render me speechless. It’s inspiring to see her kick ass again and again while still focusing on the future challenges the industry has to overcome. It would be a privilege to meet her and to talk about her creative approach.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My Instagram is @edi_mex.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thank you and thanks for having me participate in your interview series!

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