Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I had such wonderful connections with the faculty at Hofstra, especially within the Fine Arts/Art History Department and Greek community. I’ve maintained a close relationship with Professor Laurie Fendrich, who exhibits paintings regularly in New York City and has followed my career at Big Idea Advertising over the years.
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job after graduating from Hofstra was as a graphic designer and then art director at an advertising agency called The Halo Group. I learned so much about the industry during my years there and would never have taken the risk to start Big Idea Advertising without the education I received from the partners there.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Big Idea is an advertising and marketing agency that works with a diverse clientele, ranging from financial to fitness companies. We work in all media, developing brands, websites, sales communications, designing packaging, and doing consumer research.
- What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Seek out the industries and careers you really love. If you are passionate about what you do, you will find success, whether that is landing your first job or starting a company of your own.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
OPPORTUNITY. There is opportunity to be found in every corner of Hofstra, whether that is the opportunity to take a class on a subject that interests you, make new friends, play a sport, join a club, find an internship, make plans for your future or just plans for the night. I can’t remember any other time in my life where I had the freedom to explore as many different interests with so many other wonderful people.
- How has your degree helped you?
My entire Hofstra experience has been essential to my success. The friendships I forged there became a network that has supported me along the way. My experiences in the Greek community helped me learn how to be a leader. My job today requires me to understand a wide range of subjects, from art and language to culture and business. My degree allowed me to take diverse classes, not just career-specific training, helping me to be comfortable in a wider range of business settings and making it easier for me to continue learning about new companies and products.
- What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is the diversity of clients and projects. It never gets boring. One day I may be getting a behind-the-scenes tour of a factory, and the next day, I’m directing a commercial or working with a food photographer. Every business I get to work with has its own unique products and marketing challenges, and I love getting to partner with my clients to help solve them creatively.
Steven Defontes (B.S. ’96), president and creative director of Big Idea Advertising (www.bigideaadv.com), has helped shape the marketing of some of the world’s most recognizable brands. His client roster has included companies such as The Art of Shaving, The McGraw-Hill Companies, ADP, Broadridge, New York Health & Racquet Club, Hale and Hearty, Entenmann’s, Peter Luger Steakhouse and, most recently, The American Arbitration Association.
He oversees the creative development of all Big Idea Advertising’s clients and has assembled a team of creative professionals, each distinctively able to help companies craft their own brand personality.
“We develop a unique partnership with our clients, always focused on their end goals, and are on-call to seize their opportunities,” says Steven Defontes. “Acting as their brand manager and guardian, we help them shape their communications and reach the next level. Our clients recognize that we care about the success of each of their brands as if it were our own.”
Steven had an interesting start to Big Idea Advertising. “It happened very naturally. I decided to start freelancing and work directly with clients. I met with a printing company about getting some business cards, and they offered me computer access and desk space in exchange for some creative assistance with their clients. Within a year or so, I needed my own office and support staff and, just like that, Big Idea Advertising became a business.”