Alex Weil is an award-winning executive creative director and the founder of New York-based "design and build digital atelier" Charlex. From groundbreaking work like the multilayered video effects in The Cars' music video "You Might Think" to acclaimed projects for Saturday Night Live, IBM and Budweiser, the evolution of Weil's career nearly mirrors the development of digital communications itself. Over 25 years ago, Weil embraced video when it was considered only a primitive delivery system, and developed innovative alternatives for producing motion graphics and effects. By the early 1980's, Charlex was challenging slower and more expensive optical houses and earning a reputation in advertising and broadcasting as a postproduction maverick. It was the first shop to successfully integrate design, effect, editorial, sound and live-action production services into a single environment. Weil partnered with software company Discreet Logic to equip his team with the latest evolution in postproduction technology. That collaboration re-contextualized the potential of design and effects in commercial production. In the same period Charlex and Weil also gained acclaim for their work for Coca Cola, Ford, Exxon, GM, Microsoft and other Fortune 500 companies. More recently, Weil created a thriving new CG team and directed his first animated film, "One Rat Short," which has won a dozen awards and is currently being reviewed as a potential Oscar nominee. Charlex's immediate focus is yet another reinvention of itself, to which purpose Weil and his partner, company president Chris Byrnes, have brought in creative director Richard Eng.
Was graphic design your first career path?
One day, when I was around 14, somebody asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, and for no particular reason "advertising" popped out of my mouth. I have always been drawn to posters, movies and the artwork on boxes, as in toy boxes. But I'm not, by strict definition, a graphic designer; I'm a communicator and a problem-solver.
When you have a deadline, do you start right away, wait until the last minute or switch back and forth between projects?
Frankly, I'm not really happy unless I'm working on a large number of projects at once.
What talents do you wish you possessed?
I wish I was a graphic designer! Well, not really. I just wish I could draw.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
Which project in your portfolio are you most proud of?
The things I'm most proud of are things I consider to be original: The Cars' video for "Your Might Think," our opening for Saturday Night Live, M&M's "River of Chocolate" and my movie, "One Rat Short."
What is your worst habit?
Bad temper. But like all Leos, behind the growl is a pussycat.
Should graphic design be an instrument for positive social change?
My answer is yes, but not in the sense that the question is intended. I think the best way that the design community (if you can call a bunch of people competing with each other a "community") can make a positive contribution to social change is to operate as a meritocracy. That guarantees the rise of the individual on the basis of skills without prejudice. That is pretty much the way it is already, and in that regard "the design community" already is an instrument for positive social change.