Against the backdrop of different cultures
For Shareef and Natasha the foundation of their Advertising and Design Agency is a step towards independence and unrestricted creative output.
What is Molotov Cocktail?
Shareef: An Advertising and Design Studio. Natasha and I decided to join forces and offer our skills through our own company.
What sort of business experience can you build on?
Shareef: I graduated from „Die Grafische“ and started out as a graphic designer in an Advertising Agency and advanced to Art Director in another. As Art Director I was responsible for corporate identity, package design, mailings as well as adverts, posters and billboards. During that time Natasha and I were involved in the design, layout and launch of a new magazine. Prior to that I had the benefit of being able to observe the media and advertising scene during my studies in the U.S.
Natasha: My strength lies in illustration. I worked as a graphic designer in Russia for 8 years. I‘ve also worked as an interior designer. Once in Austria, I continued to work in the architectural field. I reflect on my visits to any country. They give me an exciting mix of experiences to draw from.
Does your company offer interior design as well?
Natasha: At the present we‘re concentrating on illustration and design but if a client approaches us with the request for interior design, we‘re up for it!
What areas will you be focusing on in the beginning?
Shareef: Mainly design of printed matter: from magazine layout to package-design. We support the client from the initial concept all the way to the finished product.
When creating a new product I believe the marketing tools and approaches should be developed parallel with the inclusion of the agency right from the beginning. We can offer a powerful synergy by supporting the client at a much earlier stage than where classic agencies usually begin.
Why did you decide to take the burden upon yourselves to start your own company?
Shareef: Like most kids I grew up loving to draw. That passion to create never left me. I continued, experimented with different techniques and progressed. When you‘re an employee you can‘t develop creatively. Now we‘d like to offer our abilities to the right type of people.
Natasha: As an employee I‘ve always felt that I could be working more effectively but my hands were tied. With our own company we can free ourselves from these restrictions and break new ground efficiently. Many ideas never make it to the client because the company isn‘t able to sell them properly. Now no one stands between us and the client.
Shareef: There is always a certain risk involved when founding your own company. But if you always choose the safe and certain path you will never be able to reach or accomplish great things. If the result doesn’t stir emotions, it has failed.
How would you define your target group?
Shareef: We offer our services to all who seek concepts and solutions in the area of print design – and also new media. We only „filter“ for ethical reasons.
What sort of assignments wouldn‘t you accept?
Shareef: We‘d like to avoid advertising for alcohol, gambling, weapons, pornography and cigarettes. These are product groups aimed at human weaknesses. We don‘t want to criticize anyone for consuming such items, we just don‘t want to be involved promoting them.
As you mentioned before: having an international background offers many advantages. What languages do you speak?
Shareef: I lived in the U.S. from my birth till 3rd grade. While living in Cairo, Egypt I attended a German school. After graduation I spent another 4 years in the U.S.. I speak English and German fluently and know some Arabic.
Natasha: I have lived several lives. I grew up in the Soviet Union, went through perestojka and left Russia during the Putin era. I speak Russian and English fluently and my German improves from day to day. What I see as even more important than the actual language is understanding the different mentalities and attitudes of the countries we‘ve lived in.
But will potential clients understand the name „Molotov Cocktail“?
Natasha: Of course it can be misunderstood, but…
Shareef: …there is no such thing as negative publicity. We could have sat down and made up some tame company name that everyone would forget within minutes – we didn‘t want that. „Molotov Cocktail“ makes an impact.
Natasha: We intentionally chose that kind of name.
Shareef: Lets say you have an enemy. That enemy is armed. If you can defend yourself with similar weapons you need a big budget. If you have a small budget and no access to regular weapons, you have to defend yourself with more crude devices. Molotov Cocktail stands for high effectiveness against big opponents with simple tools.
Natasha: It‘s very effective.
Shareef: Plus there‘s a connection to the former russian minister of defense. It‘s very international.
What assignment would you do for free?
Shareef: A job for a charitable organization that I‘d fully endorse in need of help – we‘d do that.
Natasha: I can imagine supporting a young author in need of book illustrations.
How will Molotov Cocktail look like in 10 years?
Natasha: 10 years are a long time. Until then Molotov Cocktail is working at an international level and we have offices in the U.S. as well as Russia.
Shareef: We‘ll have made a name for ourselves.
Natasha: When someone hears „Molotov Cocktail“ in 10 years they‘re reaction will be: „Thats that creative ad-agency“!
We offer our services to all who seek concepts and solutions in the area of print design.
I reflect on my visits to any country. They give me an exciting mix of experiences to draw from.
As Art Director I was responsible for corporate identity, package design, mailings as well as adverts, posters and billboards.
My strength lies in illustration. I worked as a graphic designer in Russia for 8 years.
But if you always choose the safe and certain path you will never be able to reach or accomplish great things.
What I see as even more important than the actual language is understanding the different mentalities and attitudes of the countries we‘ve lived in.