Jay Schwartz has over 25 years of design experience in brand development, user interface, and creative direction in the hospitality and luxury industries. Jay was the founder of IdeaWork Studios, now Once Upon a Time Hospitality.

Hotels benefiting from Jay’s expertise include 11 Howard, The Darcy, Gansevoort Hotel Group, Gramercy Park Hotel, Gurney’s Resorts, Hersha Hospitality Group, Hard Rock Hotels, Ian Schrager Company (EDITION and PUBLIC), The Jaffa, and The NoMad Hotel. He also plans and designs creative for Jean-Georges, Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Daniel Humm, Charlie Palmer, Andrew Carmellini, and many other renowned chefs. 

Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2019? 

2019 is a growth year for us, having recently been acquired. I’m looking forward to integrating with our London headquarters and coming together to produce more amazing creative on a larger scale. I’m looking forward to offering additional services that we couldn’t have handled before.

Q: Who is your role model or hero? 

I look to various sources for inspiration, but if I had to narrow it down to one role model, it’d be David Bowie because he was such a visionary.

Q: What is your favorite book? 

I’ve got lots, depending on genre and purpose.

Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations? 

Our agency runs on so many systems–we’re always trying out something new to make us more efficient and help us communicate better. Currently, though, our main systems are a combination of Slack, Basecamp, and Harvest for the day-to-day.

Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?

I’ve always been creative, so I’ve had little option but to go into a creative field. I never wanted to be a graphic designer, but after my foray into the art world, it felt like the best option for me.

Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?

Being a designer/creative director has so many highs and lows. When a client buys into your idea and gives you the freedom to run with things, it can be so refreshing and energizing. Conversely, when you face the inevitable rejections that come with the job, it can be gut-wrenching and disappointing. One of the highlights of my recent career was realizing the culmination of the 20 years I put into IdeaWork and selling the agency to be part of a much larger firm.

Q: Looking back – if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different – what would it be?

Be nicer in how you accept criticism and recognize that every ‘no’ leads to a better ‘yes’ down the road.

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