Best part of small agency life?
Variety, community and ownership. In a small agency, you have the ability to work on a huge variety of clients, from a variety of industries, and that list is ever changing. I think this keeps it interesting, but also makes it much more challenging. You don’t have that opportunity to immerse yourself in the DNA of a brand to the point that you think in their tone of voice the way you would if you had only one or two clients for years. The best part, however, may be the camaraderie you develop with the people you get to work with. There are no strangers in small agencies. You work closely and consistently. And whenever you make something truly great, the list of credits is very short. three or four people worked on that big project, or just one or two, and so on. You have extreme amounts of ownership over the work, which is a both a burden and a gift at the end of the day.
How do you stay creative and original?
Is anyone original, really? I think at this point in human existence, we are just taking ideas on loan from the generations of people, of problem solvers and storytellers before us, and changing their color. I try to avoid spending much time worrying about the advertising industry itself, because then the feedback loop becomes more recycling than new creation, and I instead focus on other industries and areas that people innovate. Science, astronomy, physics and engineering are all big sources of inspiration for me. The level of philosophical and theoretical thought that takes place is reassurance to me for what our minds are capable of, and I think it’s a space where true, unadulterated creativity takes place. I love the way that science can break down what you think are either unexplainable things, or very simple things, in a way that you would have never considered or expected. I then like to take that same philosophy and apply it in whatever way I can to the problems that we’re trying to solve.
Last thing you watched on Netflix?
Evil Genius, So good. I love well made crime documentaries. I have a very morbid side that is utterly fascinated with murderers, serial killers, etc… Just something about that mental space that I always found super interesting.
If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would it be?
That’s a tough question, because I’m terrible at vacations. They make me anxious – I can’t ever really get over the fact that they’re temporary, and that fuels anxiety to try and accomplish something, or to try and forcefully enjoy relaxing, which I can never do. There are a ton of places that I would love to visit, but if we’re getting really hypothetical with this, I would say the place I long to be the most would be back at my grandma’s house in Louisiana, during one of our Christmas vacations there. I was too awkward and annoyed when we used to go on those trips to really enjoy what was going on around me, and yet I still think about how it felt to be there almost every day. I love the way it looked, and smelled, and sounded. It was a safe and exciting place for me, an adventure full of imagination and exploration and I miss it dearly. I wish my kids got to go there. Other than that, I would really love to go to London or take my wife Aubrey to Venice and take a gondola through the water, that sounds pretty awesome.
Would you rather hang with the ghost of Sonny Bono or U2’s Bono?
I lived in a haunted apartment for a time, and as long as he’s friendly I’d probably say Sonny. I hate everything about U2, especially that two of them only go by one word names.
Favorite piece of advertising you’ve seen recently?
The Tide Superbowl spots. Absolute genius.
What’s your dream vehicle?
Oh boy. I don’t think I have just one. I have a million cars that I’d like for different applications and different reasons. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m very nearly religious when it comes to cars, and so I have cars that I’ve dreamed of owning, cars that I’ve dreamed of building, cars that I’ve planned out with a budget in mind, cars that I’ve planned out if I had all the money in the world, the list is nearly unending. I’ll give you the cars I think about most at this point in time (all are subject to change in the next week) :
1.) A ’29 Ford roadster done in a retro track-roadster style, slammed to the ground on tall and skinny wide whitewalls and steel wheels with a healthy, injected 347 and a 5 speed. (this would be my summer daily driver)
2.) A brand new Ford Raptor crew cab (other daily driver) preferably metallic red or that killer flat grey color they have.
3.) My ’93 Cobra clone, only in my dreams it’s an actual Cobra, and it does all the things I want it to without breaking.
4.) ’03 – ’04 Cobra coupe, white or red, Twin 66mm turbos, A/C, Mach 1000 sound, 6 speed.
5.) 2014 Tacoma, lifted a couple of inches with 37″ tires and all the desert goodies to go blast around in the sand
6.) A brand-new Golf GTI for Aubrey, or a new Toyota 4Runner, those things are sweet and I know she digs them.
7) Jim Summer’s Big Red 1 Mustang or the original Kevin Marsh/Chuck Samuels coupe. Iconic.
I know 7 is a weird number, but it’s what I’ve got right now.
What recent project are you most proud of?
I’m a pretty harsh critic, so I tend to hate most everything I make. I’m very proud of our work for Tesuque Stucco, they are kind of my baby. I did their rebrand, I’ve done all of their creative since in one way or another, and I’ve always loved the tone that we’ve been able to create with their stuff. It’s witty and fun, but has a real, core truth concept to draw from that is simple and elegant enough to sound different, but also be everlasting while fueling a stream of really fun, creative work. It’s one of those projects where you had an absolutely killer client, a client with a real differentiator and with an appetite for creativity and the right combination of thought and talent from our whole team, present and past, to get it there. very proud of almost all of their stuff.
Which Seinfeld character would you love to hop in a taxi with?
I’m way too awkward to make a taxi ride with anyone be something that both parties would consider an enjoyable experience, but George Costanza is my favorite Seinfeld character. He and I have a lot of similar world views, although I could never sleep in my office.
Anything you’ve learned recently that you’d like to share?
I learned about this phenomenon called “Acquired Savants” wherein someone who is, by all definitions, ordinary can become a savant following a head injury. People will develop OCD or anxiety, but they may also develop incredible abilities to complete complex mathematics off the top of their head, or become artists, or musicians, and so on. Our brains fascinate me. The human brain is so incredibly powerful, so complex that it’s hard to comprehend. I love learning about the mind because it’s an intrinsic link to what I do everyday, which is essentially a study in human psychology.
Favorite part of living in New Mexico?
Summer mornings, Fall afternoons, summer evenings. The sound of cicadas in the Cottonwood trees, the mountains, driving an hour in one direction and being away from everything, the altitude, the sunsets and the food.
What’s new in advertising that excites you?
What excites me most about advertising is actually somewhat counterintuitive. Because advertising as a genre has become so devalued, because everyone is saying that it’s dead and irrelevant; I think the most exciting thing about it is that it’s entered that goldilocks zone where almost anything is possible. Ask yourself, what is advertising? If I go outside and yell that Oreos are better than Hydrox, is that advertising? If I paint a giant graffiti message on a crumbling building that says “Better go to Home Depot” is that advertising? I think right now, the answer is “yes.” And that excites the hell out of me. It’s the wild west right now. You don’t have the same constraints that they had in the 60s, where all you could do is put a message on TV, or in Print, or on Radio and that was it. There’s a lot of latitude right now.
Advice for hopeful future creatives?
Work hard. Your talent doesn’t mean shit if you can’t do the work. Ideas are worthless without execution, so get used to taking those great ideas and selling them, creating them and re-selling them and then fighting to keep them sold. You are entitled to nothing simply because you have a degree, or the instructors at your art school liked you, or you got to do that one poster for that one famous club that one time. Be humble, be hard working, and be ready to hear critique. The cardinal sin of a professional creative is the inability to take critique without personal rage or insult. Learn from what others tell you, and use that to make yourself better. Lastly, focus on the concepts. The way you think is what makes you special, so embrace that, nurture it, grow it and capitalize on it. The perfect creative is a combination of efficiency, brilliance, hard work, skill and masochism.