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The Work That Made Me: David Justus

David Justus, executive director of technology and business development at AKQA talks Apple ads, sci-fi shorts and the work that has shaped his career

The Work That Made Me: David Justus

Executive director of technology and business development at AKQA David Justus knows a thing or two about the world of software design. Here, David takes a look back at the impact of music on his career and the work that has inspired his path. 


The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

Its not really an ad but the one thing from my childhood that I can’t shake is NBC’s the more you know starburst. I don’t know why but to this day I can still remember watching Saturday morning cartoons then seeing a 'The More You Know' PSA . I don’t recall the PSA’s but I recall that silly star animation. I also think it’s still ongoing – which maybe is why its stuck in my mind. 



The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry…

I am a technologist who kind of found my way into the creative industry by accident so I’m not sure I followed the same path – that being said for me I think it was largely video games, specifically Half Life. It was one of the first games to truly introduce storytelling and push the medium as a form of art. I think this creative expression, coupled with cutting edge technology is what pushed me into a space of not just being a tech person, but being a tech person who wanted make things people could use – and thus resulting in me ending up in the creative industry.  




The creative work (film/album/game/ad/album/book/poem etc) that I keep revisiting…

Music is my soul – so it's only fitting that I have two albums that I equally cannot stop listening too. The first is Pink Floyd’s Animals – I know not Dark Side of The Moon (which is also a great album). This album has a great story and a rawness and complex composition that other Floyd albums just don’t have. The second is Tricot’s album 爆裂トリコさん – again there is something about the raw sound, while having extremely complex musical structures that is just mesmerising. There is a trend here – beautifully complex things, which is largely what my job is try and help make! 


My first professional project…

My first, first professional project was redesigning the home page of my local internet provider – quantum internet services, where I worked as a technician. My first gig in true adland was at R/GA where I helped launch the rebuild of Verizon.com. 


The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

The Apple Lemmings ad makes no sense, and is such a rapid decline from the previous ad which is lauded as one of the best ads of all time. Tech ads take note – don’t make weird nonsensical stuff! 


The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that still makes me jealous…

If there was one thing that I’d say I respect and was sad I didn’t have the idea first – It be short film Sunspring – it's basically using AI to write a movie. It’s more an artistic curiosity than anything else, but at the time (four years ago) an amazing omen of things to come.


The creative project that changed my career…

I do not know if it changed my career, but it deff put in a place where I really realised how much you should and can push technology. The project was Recalling 1993 – where we transformed NYC into a giant payphone walking tour. I think it really showed me the power of tech and awesome collaboration 


The work that I’m proudest of…

The Angry River – This is a project where storytelling, and technology came together in really interesting ways. It was both purely a creative venture (sorry clients!) and an experiment around nonlinear storytelling. We used gaze detection to figure out who you were paying attention to – then based on your bias toward a character, showing different variants of the narrative arch. Bandersnatch without the annoying remote thing. 


I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

Diet Coke: Your On. 


In the words of Archer – “phrasing!” 


The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

We have a lot of things coming up in healthcare that I’m really excited about – because when can you say you actually made things to help people? For stuff that’s currently in market a group of us at AKQA made a little game - that got some pretty good organic traffic. You always need to find time to have side creative outlets! 


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