Day 394

Since we’re in the midst of that weird lull between Christmas and New Years, I thought I would take this opportunity to peel back the #TGAA curtain once again. With the finish line in view, I can finally say—without a shadow of a doubt—that those I've had contact with over the past year either understand this project or they don’t. There's really no middle ground to the receptions I’ve received from people along the way.

Many applaud us for trying something new that has the potential to help a lot of people. Others, however, refuse to give us the time of day, choosing instead to believe that this is some self-serving attempt on my part to land a job (one month out and I still don't understand it). What I’ve noticed though is that most people who feel that way don’t ever take the time to read the blog or ask any questions about the project.

Throughout it all, the most interesting responses I’ve received have been from people who love the project, but realize it’s something their agency would never go for. I won’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of these shops, but it does open up an interesting line of questions. Why is someone who applauds creativity, working at an agency that does not? Why wouldn’t said agency be interested in such a project? What does it say to jobseekers who go the extra mile to get noticed by prospective agencies? If you ask me, these are all extremely important considering we’re supposed to be working in a ‘creative field’.

Such responses aren’t regulated to individuals either. I’ve also received some interesting replies from professional organizations. On one side, you have the Art Directors Club and the various branches of the Egotist, who have been absolutely amazing to the project the entire time. They’ve helped spread the word, create meaningful connections and even provided a slew of unique insights. They understand what we’re trying to accomplish and I’ll always be grateful to them for what they've done.

On the other hand, some of the more traditional organizations have been hit or miss, based on the their location. Yes, some of them have been rather wonderful. But some—if they even reply—have been completely uninterested and question the project's worth to no end. It’s a weird dichotomy indeed.

Obviously, I don’t expect everyone to support or even care about this project. It's not as if I’m walking around thinking this is the greatest thing to ever exist. Although I do think it’s pretty great. I mean, if I didn’t believe in it what’s the point of even doing it, right? When agencies and organizations that tout themselves as ‘creative-friendly’ and ‘forward-thinking’ won’t give it the time of day though, it does raise some red flags in my book. That's why I'm thrilled to be visiting LA. Utilizing the same tactics that brought 13 other agencies onboard, I could barely get anyone's attention down there. I'm extremely curious to find out what makes their creative community so vastly different from the others. 

In the end, I think the lesson of it all is that you should always research where you’re going and what you’re doing. Don’t believe the hype or listen to any lip service. Draw your own opinions, form your own thoughts—no matter which side of the coin you fall on. And for those of you out there who have helped this project grow and succeed, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those of you out there who think this whole project is a waste of time, I thank you too—you’ve helped push me to make this thing bigger and better each and every day.

-Steve-

Day 179

My, oh my, how busy I've been! 

Over the past week, I had the opportunity to speak with a whole slew of great individuals. It all started last Thursday, when I got to watch / briefly meet with a group of U of M students at an AAF luncheon. Although I didn’t get to chat with them individually, just watching them present proved they all have bright futures in the industry.

The following day, I sat down with Michael Phillips of Choose901 / City Leadership to discuss downtown Memphis and how the city is changing for the better—especially when it comes to attracting and retaining creative-types. Then on Tuesday, I met with Andrew Lebowitz and Billy Nation of AIGA | Memphis for lunch at Rendezvous. They had very kind words for #TGAA and offered up some great advice on how I can better build support for the project. They also host the Creative Memphis podcast and I highly recommend everyone check it out. It’s a great listen, no matter where you live.

Finally, I headed to Aldo's Pizza yesterday for a great conversation with Memphis blogger and resident creative, Holly Whitfield. We chatted about all things Memphis and how the city compares to the other places I've visited so far. To be honest, I'm really bummed I wasn't able to meet any of these awesome individuals earlier in my residency here. However, one thing is for sure, each and every one of them is having a positive impact on the city's creative offerings and overall growth. 

And that brings us to today. I know May is one of the shortest months I have booked, but it honestly feels like I just arrived yesterday. Alas, at 10:40pm Saturday, I hop on yet another train and begin my overnight journey to St. Louis. But before I venture to Stop 7, I want to send a big “thank you” to the Red Deluxe team for showing me a great time in Memphis and introducing me to the city’s incredible BBQ.

Looking forward, my next month is going to be exciting for a number of reasons. Not only does it mark the halfway point of the project, but I’m also hitting one of the most interesting agencies I’ve ever come across — Boxing Clever. Part ad agency, part record label and part book publisher, BC certainly has a lot going on and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. From what I can tell, this group really thinks outside the box and I feel we’re going to get along swimmingly. 

On a final note, a strange set of circumstances transpired on Memorial Day and I somehow ended up on the news. It feels weird being labeled as a "Grizzlies fan" while wearing a Cleveland Indians hat. But, let's look on the bright side... I made the news! Surely, this can be chalked up as a victory somehow. Right?

-Steve-