Creating Work for the Real World: SJI Associates in Graphis Journal #372

If you’re looking to work with a team that cares about you and goes above and beyond to advertise your work to the world, look no further than SJI Associates.

SJI Associates is a full-service branding and advertising studio. They work on a wide range of communications, from brand development and multi-platform advertising campaigns to keyart and digital asset creation. Located in New York City, SJI employs a diversely talented staff of twenty consisting of brand strategists, senior art directors, copywriters, developers, and a team of experienced designers. Over the past thirty years, they have worked with long-standing clients like A+E, Disney+, Sesame Workshop, National Geographic, HBOMax, AT&T, and PBS, among many others. SJI Associates is officially certified as a women’s business enterprise by WBENC, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

For thirty years, SJI has been creating content for all sorts of media outlets. With how the television and movie business has changed thanks to the internet and the rise of streaming services, the firm has blossomed, changing alongside their clients to advertise programs that cover a wide range of topics. Utilizing eye catching images along with smart typography choices, you’ll want to see whatever show they’re promoting!

Here is a segment from SJI’s journal interview:

What inspired or motivated you in your career?

Suzy Jurist (S.J.), President: After receiving my MBA in marketing, one of my first jobs was as a receptionist at a design studio. In five years, I was bringing in the majority of the sales—I was doing what I loved and what I was best at. The day before I left to start my own agency, a prospective client called for an appointment. Knowing I wouldn’t be there for that meeting, I wrote his number down, called him, pitched his business, and won the account. That man became my husband, my partner in business and in life.

David O’Hanlon (D.O.), Senior Art Director: I developed a deep love for painting and the visual arts in high school that led to a BFA in painting, which then organically led to a career in design through a series of chance encounters and opportunities.

Matt Birdoff (M.B.), Senior Art Director: I kind of fell into design when I wasn’t accepted into the architecture program at the university I was attending. I entered a two-year “design studies” program and had such a poor experience that I swore off more schooling and decided to figure it out on my own. I lucked into a great gig and never looked back.

What is your work philosophy?

S.J.: Give it your all, all the time.

D.O.: Make it compelling. Keep it simple.

M.B.: One, that each project and client is unique. You’ve got to do your homework and really understand their perspectives and objectives. Two, less is more. People just don’t have the time or the attention span to absorb and understand complex imagery or ideas.

As a women-owned agency, how do you stand out against other agencies?

S.J.: Talent and dedication are not gender-specific. We put our hearts into our work, offering clear communication and constant support. We try to make every client feel like they are our most important client.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

S.J.: Being in business for thirty years and keeping the company functioning and thriving throughout the pandemic.

D.O.: Working with Suzy to build the capacity and lead the teams to do the work we’re showing on the pages of this journal.

M.B.: We worked on an IFC campaign for this reality show, Ultimate Film Fanatic, and there was no model budget. We used people from our studio, myself included, as the stars of the campaign. I gave myself a ridiculous quote to accompany my image: “I crap Milk Duds.” I don’t think I realized the extent of the media buy, but when it dropped, my face was all over New York City: billboards, wild-postings, taxi tops, and newspapers!

To read the full article, preorder Graphis Journal issue #372 at

Author: Graphis