Dwain Schenck
Issue: September 1, 2007


FAIRFIELD, CT — Everybody wants the best talent, the best creative and an artist with the best client- friendly skill set. The truth of it is, that breed of artist is hard to find — that's why dozens of high-end design studios and post house, some of the best in the nation, turn to recruitment companies to help them find, qualify and deliver some of the best talent world wide. And what we've learned from our years in the business is, great talent doesn't grow on trees. They have to be mined like precious stones.

ICA Creative is a search firm specializing in helping design studios, post facilities and other related companies acquire hard-to-find talent — including designers, animators, creative directors, art directors, editors, Web designers and camera crews.

We help our clients significantly reduce the amount of time and money spent on recruiting top-notch talent for temporary and fulltime placement. We offer creatives the ability to tap into our nationwide database of projects and act as a strategic partner to market his or her unique skill-set to prospective clients. This exposes the artist to a wider universe of job opportunities and offers our clients artists outside their usual talent pool. And finding a great reel is only part of the job; finding a great reel and knowing the artist's history, tendencies and personality are what is really important to our clients. We need to make sure it's a perfect match for everyone involved.

Studies have proven that there is a direct correlation between candidates answering ads and lower level skills. That is why discerning clients turn to a "search" firm to "dig" up talent. We learned early on that high performance staff are generally buried in excellence and are not actively looking. However, most of them will keep their ears open to strong opportunities. Those are the kinds of candidates a good recruiting company should and does provide. There is a real difference in results.


Recruiters need to have a sixth sense about people and be good detectives. First and foremost, they should be a quick study; recognizing trends in the industry. It's important to keep up with the industry trades, and recruiters should spend time talking with as many artists and companies as possible to learn what is happening in the industry. A knowledgeable recruiter is a better recruiter.

The recruiter should be familiar with the styles of work at different companies so it can best target its search for just the right fit. An artist's title tells a small part of the overall story — it's the style of work, his or her flexibility and the artist's experience that makes all the difference. The slickest reel in the world doesn't necessarily translate into the best candidate for the job.

Another key component to helping a recruiter find the best possible candidate for the job is keeping up with current projects and the various software and hardware that myriad studios use. Knowing the capabilities of the candidate is also important when pitching him or her for the job. For example, two people may both use Adobe After Effects, but one uses it strictly for design while the other solely for animation.

Finally, you need to listen closely to the client and stay within their hiring guidelines while managing both the client's and the candidate's expectations. We are not candidate driven but rather are in the business of isolating only the strongest professionals for our clients. Again, we're recruiters, not ad placers. What's more, our reference checks run deep. We go beyond scratching the surface and many times discover things our clients might not uncover until the artist is wedged into the position. We consider it our job to protect our client's corporate and creative interests.


Much work goes into placing the right person into a position. ICA Creative thoroughly interviews each and every candidate. The more we can find out about the talent's background, likes and dislikes, the better we are able to make a match. Our job is not about throwing resumes at our client but rather to serve up two, maybe three qualified candidates — candidates who are sure to be able to do the job.

We make it our business to coach the talent along the way and provide a road map for success. We recommend that an artist place his/her resume and reel online, avoiding the DVD route. Sometimes jobs need to be filled quickly, even within the same day, and the client needs to review the candidate's work immediately. Another aspect that seems obvious, but is often overlooked, is the applicant should keep the reel and resume up to date. Two-year-old reels are frowned upon. We also suggest that the reel montage be no longer than a minute or a minute and a half, followed by a few full-length pieces.

In addition, the most valuable candidate is one who not only has a great design sense but also is a great communicator. Clients are always requesting artists who can be involved in the pitch and work with clients throughout the creative process. We are highly motivated to make a match for our clients because we work on a contingency basis and only get paid when a successful full-time or freelance placement is made. We negotiate the rate directly with the client for the artist. The artist never pays the fee.

Today ICA works with approximately 30 to 40 clients per month. Most are long-time repeat customers who have grown to depend on our hiring advice and on our expertise for qualifying hard-to-find talent. 

ICA Creative ( was founded nine years ago by industry vets Jon Lewis and Dwain Schenck. They have placed thousands of industry talent in both full-time and temporary assignments.