ocreations can design artwork for businesses of all sizes, from small start-ups to nationally recognized corporations
Sometimes Shawn O’Mara can’t help it.
When he is driving down a local road and sees a billboard he and his team have designed – say, one for the National Aviary – he stops to take his picture.
It’s a point of pride – and what keeps it going.
“We get excited as artists when our artwork is on display,” O’Mara said. “The best part of my profession is seeing our brands in action.”
O’Mara, president of ocreations, a boutique agency and design studio in Pittsburgh, said his company handles work from the smallest upstarts to the biggest companies.
From READY®, to Primanti Brothers, to Visit Pittsburgh, to Sabika Jewelry.
“We want customers who are a good fit for us,” he said. “It’s not just about making money. Making money comes from aligning ourselves with the right customers.
O’Mara studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and began his career at Spectrum Graphics/Guidotti Marketing Group. He left there to join Thrift Drug headquarters, then spent nine years at Giant Eagle headquarters before leaving to return to the Art Institute to teach full-time.
Even throughout all of his teaching years, O’Mara remained busy with freelance work before founding ocreations.
“It was never intended to become a full-fledged agency, starting small with a freelancer from Branded Solutions,” O’Mara said.
Jesse Mader, who was one of O’Mara’s students, began freelancing for O’Mara, eventually forming ocreations llc together in January 2007 – working from the Branded Solutions office on the north side of Pittsburgh.
“Before we knew it, we had the opportunity to work with Merging Media and move into their South Side Riverwalk studio. We had an agency with access to some of the best talent in town, including web designer and developer Dustin Lawson, another AIP graduate,” said Mader, co-owner and vice president.
When the Art Institute closed several years ago, O’Mara devoted even more attention to the thriving business he and Mader had built, which grew to six full-time employees, as well as strategic partnerships for web development, photography and videography.
He is able to leverage his ongoing work as an adjunct faculty member and attract the most talented students from local universities for internships that can turn into full-time positions.
“We focus more on creative potential than professional experience,” he said. “It’s good to cultivate talents and see them grow the agency.
“It’s an agency built on concepts and creativity, rooted in education.
Mader and her sisters had a creative upbringing, writing and producing commercials and music videos for fun.
“Before I knew what advertising was, we were already doing it,” he said.
This evolved into numerous art awards and a career in independent music, where Jesse has been recording, designing and releasing albums on his own since he was 16 years old.
When he arrived at the Art Institute, Mader said, one of his best pitches was for his fictional cologne called “Quitestorm,” which included lighting effects, music, marketing pieces promotional item and a perfume sample. It was a success.
“We always think creativity first,” Mader said. “Our niche is creation. Our brain never stops. We can’t even help it.
Their company, Mader said, has a killer team in place and is well balanced in terms of the diversity of their client list.
“What we love is that we can meet interesting people and learn about all these different industries,” Mader said. “I also like to travel, get inspired and bring home new ideas to use in our clients’ projects. We absorb ideas and find creative solutions, 24/7.”
ocreations can meet all business needs – maybe it’s a brand new business that needs a logo. Or a mid-level company that already has a marketing manager but needs design services. Or a large company that needs help with a major project or package design.
The ocreations team
Mader praises “our incredibly gifted creative team”:
Nina Zivkovic – Award-winning art director and illustrator (Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 2012); Laura Smith – Creative Manager, Designer and Copywriter (Duquesne University, 2017); Olivia MacDonald – Senior Designer and Typographer (LaRoche University, 2020); Rebekah Schleppy – Graphic Designer (LaRoche University, 2022). Dustin Lawson – Website Development and Digital Marketing Partner (Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 2004).
“Live Creative, Die Alive” isn’t just a phrase Shawn and Jesse trademarked – it’s their lifestyle.
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