A Different Kind of Interview with Jeff Ruth, President and Chief Creative Officer at Shatterbox, AAF Lexington Director of Communication
Article: Lisa R. Kindel / Photography: Shaun Ring
AAF: Congrats on your success at the ADDYs! What does this mean to you and Shatterbox?
Jeff Ruth: Winning ADDYs is always important to an agency, no matter the size. Entering and winning on a larger, more international scale of competition may feel more rewarding at times, but there’s something special about winning an ADDY. The AAF Lexington American Advertising Awards are our Oscars. So it’s important—especially on a local scale. Over the years, my design studios have all done well winning ADDY awards—yet it’s still a big deal to take home an arm-full of them. Our clients always deserve the best—otherwise, what’s the point?
AAF: So who IS Jeff Ruth?
Jeff Ruth: I’m a Graphic Designer. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
AAF: How did you get started?
Jeff Ruth: I’ve been designing in Lexington since 1996. My first break was in 1999 as Creative Director for eCorporation where we designed for start-ups during the “dot-com boom”. This was where I learned how to brand big ideas. I co-founded Elevation in 2001 as a design shop that was, at the time, quite innovative for Lexington. We were designers and developers that were progressive, cutting edge, and all-around different in a town of established advertising agencies. I like to think we helped change the face of the industry locally. Elevation gave smaller shops hope of winning work from the larger firms.
AAF: (hanging on every word) What happened with Elevation?
Jeff Ruth: Let’s just say I’m better at the creative than I am at the business-side of things. My partners and I decided to close Elevation in 2010, but I enjoyed what I did and I didn’t want to lose that creative freedom just yet. Shortly after Elevation I started Shatterbox. Working alone for the first year, I decided in 2011 to merge with a more business-minded person and sold part of the company to Russ Hensley at Hensley / Elam. Russ would help shape the business, while I concentrated on the creative.
AAF: What is Shatterbox?
Jeff Ruth: We are a close-knit team of professional designers with a passion for branding. Our clients range from international law firms like Skadden, to local businesses like Cumberland Valley National Bank (now CVNB), and Ambrabev (maker of fine spirits like Boteco Vodka and Espirito XVI Cachaça). Our longest client relationship is Gray—we’ve worked with them for almost 10 years now.
AAF: So what was your first concert?
Jeff Ruth: Dave Matthews Band. I was a late concert bloomer. I believe music for a designer is crucial—losing yourself in it while you work.
AAF: What’s your beverage cycle?
Jeff Ruth: Typically Red Bulls and Monster, but I limit myself 1 per day, then sweet tea and water.