Like I look at my portfolio now I'm like, oh, yeah, this is it's really taken me a few years to get here, I think it's easier to as a designer, such because you have more pieces you can affect. And there is more like, more more pins that you can put on the board. You know, as, as an illustrator, it's very specific. And it's also really based in style as well. And they're coming to you, because you have a specific math problem. And you'd like to or you have a, an equation that you know, how to solve a variety of problems with if that makes any sense. So with design, it's, you know, you're building a different type of equation almost every single time especially, you know, when it comes to like higher level like brand identity, which is like its own like really wild rubric, a pie to solve. I know just mixing my my data metaphors. But yeah, there's so many other opportunities to really experiment and play, but as long as you're building out an interesting system.
Hey, what's up everyone? Welcome to work some process, the podcast about uncovering creative methodologies from people doing inspiring work. In each episode, whether I'm talking to a designer, and educator or entrepreneur, we learn how the hows and whys behind what they do. Through experiences and determination. My guests explore the techniques and inspiration that have helped them navigate their creative careers. I'm your host, designer and educator George Garza, Jr. and join me as I continue to elevate the creative process by shifting the focus to how we work over what we produce. On today's episode, I want to welcome rich two, which is a first generation Filipino American and award winning designer and artist residing in Brooklyn, New York. Currently, he is the group Creative Director at Jones know Richie, and has previously held the roles at MTV entertainment, and Viacom, CBS and Nike. In addition, he hosts the Webby honoree podcast first generation bird, which focuses on the intersectionality and diversity within the creative industry. And he's the co founder of the colorful grant with the one club dedicated to creating opportunities for early stage bipoc creams, which is a graduate of SBAS illustration as visual essay program and received the ADC younguns Award, which recognizes the world's best creatives under 30. Creatively, his focus is on emerging audiences and energetic brands that benefit from the eclectic and unique point of view.
Hey, rich, welcome to the working process podcast.
Hey, man, thank you so much for joining me today I CUNY is in New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn. I cannot wait to talk to you about the first gen podcast your Nike drops the MTV Music Video Awards. Before we do that, I want to dive in and clear your mind. So I like to start every episode with a fun icebreaker. You ready?
Cool. Coffee or tea?
eggs or cereal?
artist or designer?
Insights or opportunity?
bipoc or POC?
Ooh, I think they're both imperfect terms. bipoc by virtue of addressing various communities. Awesome.
I like one of them. I always make somebody think that what oh, wait, this is gonna be easy. And now some quick water associations, right? Just the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear these words.
I know. Right? Community. Love education. Brain mistakes. Huh? small and big. Skills. Hands. History. A future opportunity. Preparedness. Accessibility. Necessary. Future history feel like we're running in circles. Process. Important,
right? I just love doing this. I love that you're actually, you know, closing your eyes. And like, you know, thinking about not like just clearing your mind, actually. But I like to kind of using this as a method to kind of just start every episode fresh for sure. And not go into with any preconceived notions of what is supposed to be right.
Because also, it's worth noting that we're doing this live. And we've also probably had like full day's recordings of the evening. So it's, I think it's good as an exercise to just completely clear
my mind. Exactly. Right. So this is the first one I'm doing actually, you know, live with rich next to me, instead of being on a zoom call, which is awesome. So it's great that we're both in New York City and in the Brooklyn area, we get to like link up, so I appreciate that. Absolutely. That's what's up. Yeah, we heard a lot about you and your bio right at the top of the show and get a sneak peek of what you've done. But now let's find out about your origin story. Let's give the listeners a glimpse into how you were introduced into art and design. So where'd you grew up? And where you creative as a kid?
So I grew up in South Orange New Jersey, Jersey. Yeah, there you go. Jersey boy in the house. And yeah, I was always creative. Like my father was an architect. And he was an art Tech flew from for almost 3040 years of his life. Right? Wow. And that was his way of just communicating with the world. And he helped build a lot of important infrastructural buildings in the tri state area from like, you know, schools, hospitals, jails, even Say what you will, but it was like a lot of governmental type of structures that he helped create. But you know, that meant he was working all the time, because there's always work to do. If you ever run an architect, they have a very specific way of drawings, very much like a continuous line type of draw. I remember his process pre AutoCAD. So he was I spent, oh, he spent a lot of his days when I was a young child hunched over a drawing desk, you know, with very long rulers a lot of tools at his disposal. And, you know, he kind of acclimated me into that world, or it helped familiarize me with a lot of that creative process. So when I started to, you know, show a lot of skills in that way, where I was essentially drawing ninja turtles as like an eight year old. And then I have that first drawing of Leonardo. I'm like, hey, well, that actually looks like my toy. My dad's like, yeah, that she does look like your toy. You know, like, there was a lot of support there, which is great. And he brought me to a lot of hobby shops, like comic book shops, I spent a lot of my youth reading sequential imagery, and like having that be a part of the way I understand like a narrative process. And I'm really grateful to him for that. So long story short, I kind of took myself for granted, actually, when it came to like wanting to do something creative as a career. So I went to undergrad and I love records. By the way, shout out to Rutgers. So I went to Rutgers without the intent of doing exploring a creative career. Had a great time, though. I will say it was a state school, we were doing what we got to do. And then or it was like, essentially a party school records as a party school, school, shout out to the a bus, and Bush campus, college if so, I graduated with an undergrad degree in communication, and I minored in psychology. And I knew I wanted to take that into some sort of creative world, but I just didn't have the fundamentals. And I didn't give myself the infrastructure of like the creative process and also surrounding myself with a great community. So I reached out to my brother in law. Jason naughty Enza, who was also former young gun winner, and like, is very prolific in advertising as well as an artist. He's great. And at the time, he spent many, many years at BBDO. As an art director, he graduated from school of Visual Arts and he told me like, Hey, Rachel, if you're really serious about pursuing this, here's a couple of ways you could do it. So I took a bunch of night classes, continuing education classes, School of Visual Arts for three years, I basically never stopped going to school. During the daytime. I was a kiosk manager at Willowbrook mall in New Jersey on route 46. Or I was a just in case nobody knows. Because no one knows where Willowbrook mall in New Jersey is with the defunct XM Satellite Radio kiosk I was a manager. So yeah, I was there or I was a substitute teacher actually at the high school, Columbia High School in Maplewood, South Orange, where Sousa went to actually and Lauryn Hill Sousa was actually a student Solana row was a student when I was a substitute teacher. And I saw her a lot. And I put together a portfolio that consisted of design work, illustration work, I had a lot of affinity towards illustrations, so much love for illustration. So that was like my easiest way, my fastest way in not easy, Nothing's easy. And then I was able to parlay that into a first couple of pieces, published pieces in the New York Times called Steven Heller within the last six months of his tenure at the time, so when he was still doing the book review, and he was wanting to see almost any portfolio, he saw my portfolio, he basically, you know, shit on 90% of it. I thought 10% of it was good. And he said, Hey, well, rich, you know, stay by your email. Tomorrow, I'll let you know if something comes in. And then he had to spot illustrations for me. And then I was off to the races. And then I parlayed a lot of that work into a portfolio to get me into a master's program at School of Visual Arts with Marshall. erisman, Mirko Ilic. See, Carol Fabrika Tori, a lot of awesome legends and got to really take myself seriously when it came to this creative journey.
So I will say, you're also a pocket host, you've basically answered in sequential order. The next couple of things I was about to ask, you know, in your journey, and I didn't have to because you just kind of flowed through. And it seems like this idea of parlaying, right, just using one thing to get to the next thing that you're doing. I mean, it just want to just, you know, put it out there that you know, you just randomly called Steven Heller, while you still have the time. And Steven Heller's, like 90% of your portfolio is crap, but I'm still gonna give you a call
heart beating out of my chest. But that was the time when you could just get a list of all the art directors and design directors from the New York Times, and then you could just cold call them. You could go to the times after this 2006 By the way, so you could go to the times in 2006, and like drop a bag of dog shit. I feel like here it is my portfolio like in theory, it that's how opened the door was right. And also Steven, you know, kudos to him. I don't know whether we're just by virtue of his tenure, or by virtue of his trust in emerging artists, because I think he's been great about that. Throughout the course of his career, he had a lot of like, willingness to experiment and give someone a chance. And that was always, I was always super appreciative of that, even though it's weird whenever I see him to thank him, even though I've done it, but I'm like, oh, it's he's done this to so many people. It's almost odd.
I know. But I mean, I think it's gotta be actually kind of invigorating to have that moment to say, I can actually pinpoint the person who's helped me in my career. And sometimes, it's too late to say that to some people, because you didn't realize it until they're gone, that they were they're really that impactful person. And the fact that you really want to say that, and even though it is odd, because like you said, de facto, he's been doing this. And that's just kind of his MO, but it's still you're not taking it for granted. Yeah, absolutely. So with all this parlaying and everything like that, when did you consider yourself a creative?
Oh, it was in that illustration program. And that was a I think about this a lot. Actually, that was a gift that I had to give to myself, you know, like being able to say like, Hey, I'm an artist, hey, I'm a creative, hey, I'm a designer, those are all things that those are titles that are imaginary fabricated concepts, say what you will, but you really have to, like lean in, in order to have the confidence to pursue the XYZ, you know, so I really accepted my who I was, which was a creative problem solver, a creative thinker, an artist, a designer, like, you know, whatever, multi hyphenate. XYZ, that was something I really took on, thanks to Marshall erisman. And that SVA as illustration program.
So seems like that visual essay program is really what got you thinking beyond just the doing. Yeah, stuff, right?
Yeah, they were really good about building in a fundamental process into your work, were one, you know, you have two years to really think about your own creative juice, and also like what your creative authorship is, but within this realm of illustration, but also they expose you to so many other amazing creative thinkers, who are also designers, design leaders, people that could critique your portfolio. So you were forced out of your own mental bubble, in order to essentially think about your work from so many other different angles, they were really great about, essentially testing every day challenge really, all the time.
Wow, it seems like such a great way almost like kind of throwing you in the pool and see if you can swim. Yeah, you know, but with a group of people that are there to support you. Yeah, not gonna let you drown. They're gonna actually gonna let you record they are teaching you along the way. Right. Yeah. So thank you for that kind of nice condensed version of how we're getting to where we are today. And I followed you a while on social. And as a AIGA, New York supporter, I've been aware of what you've been up to, right.
Stacy, Stacy. Stacy is the best, the executive director of AIGA, New York, and like probably most people, right, I think they know you for your first gen podcast, which we'll get into, mainly because they see your face, right. And as we know, designers are kind of like behind the scenes, and we don't really like you know, sign our work. So a lot of stuff that we do, right. But over the years, what I've noticed is navigating the streets of New York, I cannot help but see something that you've worked on, right? Whether it's the airMAX 270s, the Mini Cooper collaboration, the MTV VMAs, and so many things that I wasn't even aware of right. And I did notice something even like my last guests were interviewed make Lewis bold colors are so tied to your visual style. Yes. Why?
I think that was a confidence that took time to build. I think bold colors are usually a sign of some type of creative confidence, right. But also, simplicity is also a sign of creative confidence, too. I just happen to swing towards a certain end of the spectrum. In the beginning, I was very much about like, an austere type of presence, and less and like trying to look for moments within the moments like I had very much like a quieter aesthetic, I think back in the day. But as my confidence grew as as I started to accumulate more work and kind of work with more clients than it just became more about like energy, energy, energy. And then I started to find a lot of projects that were winning with energy. And those started to resonate a bit more. And then, you know, kind of going into an entertainment world. Even pre MTV, like when I was at Nike that was about energy, energy. And even before Nike, I spent a couple of years as an art director at a at an entertainment firm that specializes in Broadway. So if you look at Broadway, that's all energy, right? The event happening on the stage, the narrative happening on the stage has to be communicated in so many different permutations, not just from front of house to like a singular poster with some sort of expressive design system associated with it. So that's when I started to unlock bright colors, bolder palette. At, as well as you know, kind of being very forward with, you know, a type of graphic sensibility that also allows for to be messaging first.
So for energy, is that for you, the project or client you're working on or what you bring to it? Or is it a symbiotic thing? We're like, one feeds the other?
I think it's the ladder. That's yeah, before, you know, you're searching for like your your clients, right? Like, who's in your strike zone of clientele that you can continue to work with forever? And ever. One of my earlier clients was, you know, web Geo, the gestation at a point three,
no, I mean, maybe if I just like by listening, but not by the call letters?
No, no worries, I can. They're one of the oldest jazz stations in the tri City area. They're based in New York. And I worked with them early, early for a jazz symposium. I did their identity for a Jazz Fest at Lincoln Center. Right? So Lincoln Center jazz, right? Like, there's a lot of diagonals happening there. Right? And it was very quiet, austere, illustrative, simple typographic sensibility. But that was aligned to jazz, essentially. But it was like, I remember at the time thinking, This isn't who I am. But I feel confident in my execution of this because of the pieces are working in a different type of concert, right? But then, you know, you get more tricks up your sleeve. And then you start working with clients that are asking for like, more and more and more, bigger, bolder, we need to stand out XYZ, then that, like, you know, plays like MTV, or the swoosh. Or let's say, you know, Reebok is a client. I'm having a board doing a special project with right now. Like, they're looking for things that that will cut through the noise
to cut through the noise, right. So not the status quo, not the same old, same old and obviously, you know, as somebody who's worked I love it. You call it the swoosh? Yeah. When you're in you can now call Nike the swoosh. Yeah, it's no longer just the, you know, Nike Inc. It's special coastal swoosh. Just the swoosh. Yeah. Well, it
goes, it's super political over in Portland over in Oregon. Because yeah, it's the, it's the sportswear capital of America. Actually, if anyone of your listeners have has a wonderful opportunity to ever work in Nike, in your first day, you will be greeted by one of the first one to five employees in Nike, that will tell you the story firsthand of their journey through the swoosh. And then they'll tell you how jogging as a recreational activity came to Oregon started in Oregon. And then that started the proliferation of sportswear and that entire culture. So North America Adidas is there. Who else is there Under Armour has a presence there leaning the Chinese footwear and sportswear companies have a presence there. And like the two Mecca is are probably Oregon and Boston. Boston has do balance Converse? Yeah, a few others. It's very small, insular world where people just jump around just these two places. So it's about lifestyle, not just about a brand. It's a vibe. Oh, it's
definitely a vibe. It's absolutely about I know, when I look at some of the stores and look at some of the stuff in the campus and things like that and what they're trying to produce, right. It's a total feeling, yes, that you go through and like you said, sitting with one of the 25 first employees, that's gotta be like a bunch of hippies. Yeah,
a bunch of hippies that smoke weed. That's literally all it is. Like, what I remember when I first moved there, that's when recreational weed was legalized. I was like, Oh, this is all everyone does out here.
So it seems like what you're talking about, right? Where, you know, obviously, shifting from the jazz. Yeah. And that and then clients starting to look to up the ante look to be different. And what it seems to me is with this boldness, right, there's parts of you that are peeking out, it seems like those things are starting to say, Well, cool, I can actually show myself in that work, because they're all actually allowing me to go there. But how have you been able to do that in the work you create? Is it easier as an illustrator or a designer?
Oh, I think Well, it's funny because as an illustrator, like, I don't really get to do a lot of projects now where I'm just solely an illustrator anymore, which is interesting, right? Because when I think about illustration, now, I think a lot about like a more of a, like a symbiotic relationship with an art director that is also driving my work towards the editorial essentially, okay, you know, and not you know, which would be where I would have been as an illustrator like in my early days, because I wasn't a book person. I wasn't a children's book person. I wasn't also like a like the cover illustrator designer person, although I always wanted to be there was always like kind of a fantasy mind. But when it comes to the myself peeking through that is like I think the authorship coming through over time so you know in those first couple of gigs when you're thinking oh, yeah, is this where I can really take a stand here and, and, you know, inject that that high energy color palette or play With these Neons are playing with these jewel tones or have like a really bold headline, headline typeface that that stands out in a sea of sans serif Fs was that stands out, like, you know, in the sea of Helvetica wannabes out there. Essentially, like, that's kind of where I've noticed, like, where it where it's all come together, like I look at my portfolio now I'm like, oh, yeah, this is, it's really taken me a few years to get here, I think it's easier to as a designer, essentially, because you have more pieces you can affect, and there's more like more pins that you can put on the board. As an illustrator, it's very specific. And it's also really based in style as well. And they're coming to you, because you have a specific math problem. And you'd like to, or you have an equation that you know, how to solve a variety of problems with, if that makes any sense, right? So with design, it's, you're building a different type of equation almost every single time, right? Especially, you know, when it comes to like, higher level, like brand identity, which is like its own, like, you know, a really wild rubric of a pie to solve. I know, I'm just mixing my my data metaphors. But yeah, like for that it's, there's so many other opportunities to really experiment and play. But as long as you're building out a interesting system,
well, I like the idea that you're also delineating the fact that Illustrator is kind of almost limiting in the fact of what you're getting from a CD or somebody in to say, well, we're picking you because of your style. And this is that. So the input you have is very directed by somebody else. Yeah. So the illustrator aspect is, you don't really get a chance to do that, because it's already been told of why we are coming to you. And it seems more that the aspect of you as artists, we get a little bit more to challenge that and interject because you're both a creative as a designer, but also an artist, right? who's able to make these decisions and work with clients versus somebody just hiring you for this little specific one thing you do, right? And let's just use you for that. Right, you're kind of in, it seems like as an artist, you're in the room making these decisions with people. Yeah, versus being told what to do.
Yeah, as an illustrator, I was always inspired by the words. So that was always my starting point. As an artist, I like to it's more process oriented for me, where I'll just want to create something beautiful or something with impact, I don't even call them all, all my pieces beautiful unnecessarily. But something that will get a reaction of the people, but also isn't intent to solve a problem necessarily, then when I put my design hat on, I'm really trying to solve a problem for the client, and do it with them. And then my authorship comes with the type of energy that I inject into it, and like the essentially the personality.
So I mean, we see that and when I show you in the show notes, we're about to talk about where you collaborated with Mini Cooper, to bring this. I think it's Hiraga. to life. Yeah, right. It's a custom graphic that would go on the roof of a mini, right. And it's all about culture and symbolism. And when you look at it's really just, it's an image of two overlapping circles, forming an eye on a hand and kind of similar to the, you know, Hamsa, right. And as you mentioned in the video that's on your website, that word means the fruit of one's hopes and dreams. And so one, as many as an iconic brand that usually has the union jack on the top right? How were you able to get your art on the top of those cars as an option for us to buy?
Yeah, well, they called me so that was like step one, get a call. Yeah. Well, okay. For them, they were working with the American Immigration Council. And they were also working with two other artists, Shane Griffin at GRF, my homie Shane, and also Sean x. So three artists that were either first gen, immigrants or immigrants themselves, Shane came from Ireland. And it was just like you said, it was an opportunity to create a custom illustration or custom piece that would sit on the top of Mini, which usually has a Union Jack. So they want to give provide a an inclusive, global thought of a new art piece that could be bought for new mini owners. So like, it was a wonderful opportunity. And also, one of the easiest approvals I've ever received was like this is, this is great. I wish it was like this all the time. And they were super gracious to you know, they were really willing to go along with the process. And I gave them a lot of sketches about the you know, the deeper meaning of of the image was the palette, red, white, blue, yellow, like that's those colors are rooted in the Filipino flags on what to tell that story. And also the hand what the eye was really about identity, and also finding oneself and acknowledging oneself. I mean, also, you know, even going down to the name of Hurayrah, like the fruit of one's hopes and dreams, you know, it was really about self actualization, and paying respect and homage to your heritage, your family, your indigenous self even. And it's the kind of thing where all these reference points Don't wouldn't always intersect naturally. But when you add them all up into this one piece, you can really go through the deeper levels of storytelling on top of having something that's, you know, aesthetically beautiful. Very,
yeah. I mean, and you can see that it is it. Is it aesthetically beautiful piece. And I wondering, why do you think many was a good partner to self actualize this stuff on that large of a state?
I think it was their partner with the American Immigration Council, you know, like, when you believe in the client's cause, then you know, everything just kind of falls into place. Right. And, and also they weren't, and shout out to the team at appear Odell like that was the agency that helped put it together. And also shout out to Sunday afternoon, like who, who helped me as an artist, like everyone was really into the idea of individual authorship. And also, it was no holds barred there. Were being precious about anything. All I knew was that there was a blank canvas, and there was a lot of opportunity.
You just mentioned in the individual authorship. I think that's a great segue, because I wanted to talk about the art installation you did for the VMAs. Oh, God. And when you look at that, right, I was researching and so was or my research assistant, were researching about or shout out to or, and we were looking at that. And one of the things that struck me the most at your time dealing with that was, it's more of an art exhibition. And when you think about the VMAs, and the promotions they do, it's more about branding, the event that happened to be at the Barclays Center that year. Right. So it looks like you're Yeah, pandemic year. Right. And it looks like you're curating this art exhibition in the subways. Yeah. Highlighting bipoc creatives. Yeah. Very different than a normal traditional kind of advertising an event. Yeah, it's individualizing authorship. Yes. How did that come about? Because I think that is something that your role being an MTV, did they allow you to shift that conversation? Is that something you bring to the table? Or is it because you just happen to know, amazing artists that you're like, we're gonna make this happen?
There's a little bit of both. So the way that all came about like it was, it was the craziest two months of my life, I think, and the long story short, so the Barclay Center, like you said, that was going to be the original location of the Video Music Awards, hosted by Keke Palmer, in 2020, the or the pandemic, and the way that those events are booked, they'll book the location. And then they'll usually book a massive media buy right nearby, right, so that particularly or Barclays, and then the Atlantic Terminal, right next to Barclays, which is a massive subway station for anyone who doesn't live in Brooklyn or New York City. So pandemic happens, and then Barclays is shut down. But the by the ad by four Atlantic Terminal was still valid. So in some checks, you don't just get back. Right? You got to use it, you got to use it. So the show itself shifted production to a virtual production. That happened, it was it was by the water, right. So it was by the water, and it was not in front of an audience. But for Atlantic Terminal, there was opportunity there. So my SVP at the time, he reached out to me, and it was like, Hey, rich, we want to would you be down to help curate put together a show an art show that will celebrate the community artist of color. We were trying to really do something that was mindful of the time because it was right after George Floyd right after breonna Taylor. And also, the Barclays Center had become a place of protests, it was a place of respect to it was high collared ground for, for community activists. So you know, we were being very mindful. Also, you hear all these horror stories of these brands, with misguided attempts to reach out to the black and brown community at the time. I had a meeting about it on July 3, right before July 4 weekend, and I was like, Shit, I have to think about this right now. And it was long one really gonna spill out to here. I didn't want to work on the VMAs here, because you work on one tentpole and I've done a couple of temples by this time. You give up your summer, essentially. So you know, it's people need other opportunities. They want to work on them. And also, you know, it's kind of one of those things, where do you want to sacrifice all of your time into this one massive thing, right? So I didn't want to work on the VMAs. But you know, but I want to help out and also seemed like an interesting opportunity. The way was originally phrased to me, by the team holistically was he wanted to do an art show and I was like, Okay, what does that even mean? And Hamilton had just released on Disney plus, and Hamilton is an amazing show. That makes me cry. So I spent a lot of the weekend crying, watching Hamilton. Oh, my podcasts are talking about like, I'm in my early 40s on sort of scroll down. So I watched I was watching Hamilton crying that weekend. And really, you know, beating myself up over, like, what is this show gonna be? And I called and Tony Baker, who was the Director of Marketing at the time, shout out to Antonia. And she, she was a Twitter for a number of years after she left MTV. I was like, hey, I need help with this. Like, is this something that that makes sense? How do we do this for the community? Everything's so crazy right now. And she's like, Oh, hey, I was wanting to put out the idea of doing on our shelves, like, Oh, my God, thank you. So and also Antonia is black. She's amazing. She's brilliant. You know, she, and also she's outspoken. She's a leader, you know, she talking to her about it made me feel better about what we're bringing to the table. But what we're, you know, offering. So then it just became a question of, are we comfortable with the mechanics of how we're doing this? Are we comfortable with the way we're approaching this, where it's like not going to be a brand play, we're going to downplay the brand, we're going to we're going to play up the community play up thank you New York for another for being the host for us. Thank you to all the first responders, right? It just became another type of situation. And then for the artists reaching out to artists that could actually get us to work because we none of us could leave our houses, we couldn't even visit the site. So there was 100 individual art placements in the subway alone that were all different unique things. So like ever walk in the subway, and you'll just see, like a massive wall cling, like imagine, like 100 of those that were all specific, built to the space. Right. So we had to create a virtual pipeline that could get it to the MTA because the MTA also has to prove everything. So we worked with artists that were that lived in New York, but were also artists of color artists out also from an international world that like Word, you know, there was I was very adamant about making sure that it was representation at the forefront of this right, so no, homies like Qurban Brousseau, who at the time was at Ball 49 He came through Bronson far photographer, a bizarre photographer must see the ponzu who else Black Power Barbie mica Cooper my homegirl like so many others that were just willing to contribute Marcos key remark? Oh, Marcos key. Yeah, exactly. So John, and while and while contribute a lot of work. So we for a week, it was curating the artists creating the art and we were actually buying a lot of the art essentially. So a lot of was already pre created. So really curating some artists and photographers wanted to make original pieces. And we're, you know, open to that. Oh, Eugenia mela also who did the illustration to my podcast, she contributed a beautiful piece. So they create a digital pieces of art that could just go right to the design firm that was creating all the individual units, we did virtually over the course of saving two hours. Very fast, very fast, very fast. And then that went right to the MTA for approval. Yeah, so we create a virtual pipeline. So no one had to do a site visit even though we wanted to, and went right to the MTA for approval, and it was up for two weeks, we actually beat the opening of the MoMA by four days, we the only public art space in town. And the way we built it was we were inspired by our basil freeze, the Armory Show really wanted to make like a public art exhibit for locals who had to take the MTA. For individuals that felt like they wanted to just be around art in a new space. It was crazy. It was you'd walk around the subway, and there would be like five people in it. But they'd be enthralled with the walls. Right?
I mean, when you look at just the spaces that they were in, and because Atlantic Terminal is so huge, but also so weirdly situated where, you know, you'd have one wall that's probably like five feet by like 20 feet. Yeah. And you're like, and some walls that are kind of like normal, just subway buildings, right? So like, you have to create these moments for all that. And I think even the I remember the one of the the happy smiley face that while creating Oh, yeah, you know, just the yellow and the end. And you know, the smile and like everything that just happens with it seems so personal, because it was like a personal response to this space. Yes. And I think it was intentional. Yeah. And I think that's a great like you said, even for those five people who had to be in the subway, it was kind of like a very personal effect for them. And the fact that you beat mama as far as like an opening Artspace
Yeah. Oh, and I didn't even say the craziest part. So the way that we positioned the art or the way that we positioned the exhibit that had to you know, you have to present that up to up the chain, right. You can't just like do things willy nilly, because that's the further investment. So the weekend that I was watching Hamilton cry my eyes out and also like really think about this thing. I put together a deck of that was 80%. This is why we shouldn't do this. It was like here this is why this is problematic. This is why this could be perceived as racist. This is why this could be perceived as insensitive. This is why this could this is our all the ways this could go wrong. And here are current examples of misguided attempts from brands to do what we're trying to do. And then there was an addendum. But if we do do this, this is how we do it. And then there was a one pager of artists that were essentially my rolodex of friends. Like, these are people that we can trust to get it done. And also, these are people that are from, you know, communities of color that also locals. And also these are the inspiration points that we have to lean into. And we can't make this about the brand. This has to be about the art, the community, and all these other things that matter right now here in 2020. And that went up to the CMO and even the President and everyone was very receptive. And it also gave us the runway to do creatively what we needed to do because after we got the thumbs up, then the work had to get done. And after that, it was just you know, sleepless nights for about two months.
God and so let me ask you, right when you're creating this deck of the why we shouldn't do this. Yeah, I read that as a multi layered we Yes, right? Is it we MTV? Is it we as people who are not black is it we as you know, who has the right to talk about this in that summer of 2020? Where we're like, everything is literally burning? And why are we adding fuel to the fire? Right, who has the right to be talking about this conversation? And when you said when you talked about your Antonia that because she was black? You kind of had this like sense of okay, cool. Now we are all on the same page that I know what your intentions are, who's the week that we're talking
to the way it was the brand, essentially and also the team I get, and you know, not for nothing too, but you would hear again, you hear the horror stories about emails being passed around are being screened, grabbed and sent like from artists and potential collaborators like you want me to, to create what for what, like, essentially trivializing Black Lives Matter, right, trivializing BLM. And I would have me and Antonia we were coming at it from a space of how can we help? And how can we transform a space? So it was really wanting to be protective of not just directly our personal reputations? Because you know, one slip or one wrong email all of a sudden, it's lights out, right? And it just goes everywhere. But also it was for the brands like, do we as a brand, want to make this statement? With a more trivial mechanic with a more trivial creative inspiration point? How do we make sure that we're being respectful, and also doing something that at least bring some modicum of happiness or joy or calm to this crazy time right
now? Right. And I think the idea of like, you know, the intentions is one thing, right? The impact that you may have, with all good intentions could be totally different. Oh, god. Yeah. And I think the idea that you just mentioned, right, how do we bring happiness and joy? If that's the intention? Yeah. That's with love. That's with respect. Yeah. Right. Versus, oh, we're trying to elevate a brand at this crazy time. Right. And I think, coming from that perspective, that's where it changes how it's being viewed. Right. And I, and I think that's really smart. Because you're giving the brand literally 80% of the way out, right? Yeah, you're like, look, we don't, and we shouldn't do this. But if you're gonna do this, right, there's only one way feels very end game ish. There's only one outcome. And this is the way we're going to do it. I don't like my head's vibrating. I'm just like, but it seems like then you're going to trust us? Yeah. But you got to do it the way we say it's going to be because of your reputations because of what's going to happen and potential. What could happen, right? Like you can't even predict the future. And like you said, One screengrab one, this one wrong tweet, you know, and then everything shifts, everything shifts, right, because then that becomes a narrative. Yeah, the narratives taken away from you, because somebody else ran with
absolutely 100%. And then you know, me Antonia became a part of the internal narrative of you know why this was important. It was it was a really special moment. I mean, it was, if I had hair, I'd be pulling it out. But I'm so grateful that it went down like that, because at the end of the day, the team was so supportive, I think they would all consider it like a solid of a win. Sounds like it's trivial, but it was a win.
Well, I mean, pulling from that personal Rolodex seems like an amazing Rolodex, we need to see that list of people. But you've taken this mission of intersectionality and diversity way beyond the visual you produce, and have created outlets and opportunities. Right. You're the founder of the podcast, first generation burden, and the colorful grant with the one club. I want to get into those definitely. But when did you have this aha moment of noticing the lack of representation in the creative industry?
I think I've always seen it, but just never vocalized it you know, I'm sure you see it all the time, right. And it starts early, it starts when, you know, starts in the academic space, it starts when he moved from academic to professional, right. They're like, they're just barriers and barriers and barriers, doors and doors and doors that are either open or not open to certain individuals. And you know, those are things that I've always noticed that I never quite articulated. It really became really cogent to me, in the Trump years. You know, like in 2016, right? When Trump and Hillary were really going at it. And I was living in Oregon also, I was feeling a bit disconnected from my community because I just relocated from New York, I felt apart from my friends, my family, and there was all this really terrible rhetoric about the immigrant community, specifically, people from going to quote shithole countries, right, like all that stuff. So that just hurts my heart hurts my soul. And I wanted to respond to it, but in a way that was also productive. That not just you know, created an outlet for myself when an elder from my peers because a lot of my peers are creatives who either immigrants first gen immigrants, creators of color, I just, I felt that there was possibility in giving a voice to this wider community. So in 2016, I put together or I assembled the first couple episodes of first gen burden and the word like they were recorded very like loosey goosey. The first one was with my dear friend amay clink, co founder Sunday afternoon. And then second one was with Juan Colesberg, and also a co founder Sunday afternoon, and we're done like hotel rooms and like Echo we conference rooms, right? It's like the audio is terrible. But I sat on them for like a couple of months, didn't know what to do with them. And then fast forward to Trump winning on November 7, or whatever it was in 2016. And then I'm like, okay, release, release, release. Oh, yeah. It's just like, well, this is it. I sat in bed thinking like, oh, I need a level of catharsis. So it was released, released and then became first season was six episodes, and then I've started doing it with more regularity. And we're now we're on Season Eight. Yeah, we're doing 12 episodes this season. Shout out to Tim Simonson, who played with gym class heroes. He's currently my producers amazing partner right now. And we've had so many amazing creatives, like just released a Jeff staple episode today. Talk to Ben and Bobby hundreds melody Asana, you talk to Walt gear, talk to let's see a butta I was listening to an edit of the Mamadi Dimboola episode. He's amazing photographer. Right now he's one of the Forbes 30 under 30. So it's really turned into like a wider community. And what I love is hearing not just the stories of creatives that, that have a journey, like explicitly a journey of how they got here. But also, you know, everyone has their own individual path. And a lot of my listeners are students probably not unlike this podcast, and they like hearing the different ways in and also, you know, those little asynchronous stick journeys that, you know, will help inform their own life paths.
I mean, when you think about right, like the Rolodex and who you're able to contact and have these stories, right season. Ah, right. And I did see today that the Jeff staple, and the read space, and all of that, right, the pigeon dunks and all things that Jeff is all about, right now. Yeah. You know, like, it's just like that, to me is just New York to kind of like quintessential white sneaker culture, just like what it was to like, wait in line for, you know, a drop. We all need to learn anymore. No, it was literally talking to a group of SVA students. And we had this whole conversation about like sneaker drops and the whole craziness that bots control it now. Yes, we're going off topic. I could talk about that for hours. Well, we should we should after, but at all those stories, I ate seasons, right? I think today is 75 or 76. Oh, congratulations, 76 What stories still resonates with you today? Which one of those 76 And I know you've had more than 76. Right? These are, you know, these are only the conversations that you've had recorded. Right? You You know, like this week, you know, I've had conversations and I'm like, oh shit, I wish I would have recorded that conversation because I would have been an amazing thing to share with other people. But what stories you know, stick out to you from your own seasons.
One of my favorite stories, honestly was from my friend VEDA portal over at Spotify. And she told the story of escaping Bosnia Herzegovina in the 90s and living in as a refugee for a couple of years before she landed in the States. Then she landed in, like in the Midwest, and it was just such a wild story that was also so unique and to see how she's all the success that she has now. It makes me think like, wow, who am I to complain about anything? She was also an architect is really funny. She was one of the creatives that ideated on the Drake sprite ad where he space opens up and like, yeah, he totally covers that. Exactly. Yeah, like, the transformer Drake ad sounds like wow, that that was you. That's crazy. So like, you know, stories like that really resonate. I did a live MTV episode, where, you know, one of the guests told a story there about being physically assaulted. Growing up in Russia. I was like, like so many. You know, it's a truly emotional weather. It wasn't like a dry eye in the room. Sometimes you get stories like that. I'm thinking like, Man, this feels like something that people need to hear, because stories like this are valid, you know, and also hearing just the creative journey of someone who's super talented, and I kind of, you know, kind of plink going up, blink going vertically. You know, like, those are really interesting to like, I love hearing. Let's see here, wild gear. So while gear like he was like chief design experience officer, female y&r, he's been at so many amazing places. And he's essentially kind of talking about parlaying, he's parlayed every experience something that's greater than sum of his parts every single time. So you know, he's someone who's a mazing. At that, hearing those like, and to me, it's like a masterclass thing, like I love I keep trying to recreate my graduate school experience. So I just want to learn more here or find out more just not for my own edification. But you know, so other people can learn. Like, those are the things that really stuck with me, it's like this is how, like the well, one, every path is different to success can look like anything, you can look like anyone. And also three, when it comes to seeing representation in practice, and also seeing leaders operate in a space that's so important. For this emerging class of decision makers coming up, I get so many messages of like Apollo, thank you so much for that episode. This was a great conversation, I learned this from Episode This than the third. That type of energy is what keeps me going even though content is so hard.
We had this conversation earlier. Yeah, content is it is taught in a very difficult thing to maintain. What's interesting is also you talked about how the stories that you're hearing from the individuals right are impactful and how the audience's are going to be receptive to them. I also think that the story is important for the storyteller as a cathartic moment of like sharing something that maybe in certain conferences, they don't talk about. Right, like, right, you're talking about first gen as a creative, right. Yeah. And I think when we think of first gen, creativity is usually not where we go with that, because it's like, most likely, your parents came over for this better life, but to be doctor, lawyer, something that is understandable that will make money. Right, and creativity is never usually on that list. Right? So it also could seem to me just from listening to versions, or even my own guests, the ability for them to share this first generation story. Yes, commingled with the creative story. Yes. It goes back to what you're saying. We exist in multiple locations, right? We're not just first gen. And we're not just creative. We're allowed to be both. Yeah. And don't take that away from it.
Yes, absolutely. I think it's about the multitudes. And also you know, that the complex identity that you're allowed to have, and also really, you know, I love the idea of validating identity, and not stigmatizing. You know, so we spent so many years, I think, kind of tamping down, what makes us special, especially for designers, I'll say that designers, oftentimes, we said it before they step behind the cameras that behind the microphone, often recess into the, you know, into the inner workings, like, which is fine if one wants to do that. But, you know, I like the idea of being out there loud and proud of, you know, showing who you are. Yeah,
why not? Definitely. Well, you're talking about this next generation of content makers and decision makers, right. And want you to talk to me about this and as a multi layered question, right, like, so, I want you to talk about the colourful grant. I wanted to talk to me about your tie with Trey seals. Right? And the one club right? Yeah, we know you're a young gun winner, but I like who approached who How did this come about
how to happen? Oh, so 2020 It's crazy. Like 2020 20 is like you're like 2020 was a great year, you know? Honestly, like the I feel like the pandemic just was, for some people it was a bit of an unlock by virtue of new opportunity that happened. Like just it's a bit of an aside, I realized that in the Zoom era, I had more access to rooms that I didn't have access to when I was physically in a space, so that I could hear more about, like what leaders were seeing about certain things, I could hear more about how they were articulating certain things. Like, it was harder when we were all physically together, because certain rooms just would not be open. So the pandemic era was tough, difficult for so many reasons. If there was any sort of silver lining it was that, that the table that we all sit at was set slightly differently, right. But going back to colorful, so I had a relationship or have a relationship shout out to Russell's reserve. They're a bourbon brand. They're part of the wild turkey family. I just, I had a wonderful time in Louisville, Kentucky, touring the distillery over in for a wild turkey.
That's what I need, I needed to get a relationship like that.
Totally, they reached out. And it was a very straightforward, creator partnership where, Hey, rich, we would love to partner with you on on social posts for the year. And a part of that partnership is, you know, not just creating content for us with us. But also we would love to donate to a charity of your choice, you know, son of a community, a kind of a Community Give Back. So I was like, interesting. And at the time, I was like, Oh, this sounds like another job. But it's actually ended up being so much fun. So they had, they were like, Hey, we are going to donate $5,000. So I was like, okay, cool. What if we didn't donate it to a charity, but we donated it to or we created a grant or a fund with a trusted partner like the one club. And that went to creatives of color, didn't have like the mechanic for it at the time didn't have the framework or structure for it. So they're like, Hey, we love that idea. And then I reached out to Bret McKenzie, over at the ADC good friend over there. I've known him since he's joined the ADC. And you know, the with the one club out there, they're just homies of mine. So they were a natural reach out, I said, Hey, I have $5,000 I don't know what to do with, I would love to set up like some sort of Fund grant, even if it's just for this year. And then Brett was like, That's a great idea. Let's call it colorforms. like, Great, let's call it colorful. And then we set up the timing of it, like being a precursor to young guns, because young guns, you know, is like one of the preeminent portfolio based emerging creators awards are for multidisciplinary creatives, you know, especially in New York, but also with with a global audience. And one of the gripes and I agree with this gripe with young guns is that for amount of time, the winners were almost exclusively white creatives. Right. So that was a knock on young guns, and I think rightfully so. And I think that's criticism that was heard and felt by the ADC and one club, kudos to them. And they've done a lot of great work to turn that around. And also just create awareness of not have the award itself within a wide swath of the larger creative community. Right. So I think that's slowly shifting, but in my mind was like, well, we can always do more, and Brett like, totally aligned. So we turned it into a precursor to young guns, essentially, mirroring the young guns submission process. So it's a portfolio based award. Mine also there's a video submission component to it, where you have to speak about identity and kind of we're going to talk a little bit about what your intent would be for for the grant if you get the grants like obligation free, you can play around with I don't care, you know, or you know, you can give it to your parents like that's cool either way or pursue a passion project. So we put those measures in place and then we made it a free submission to and for the reason for that was I love the idea of breaking down perceived barriers in elite creative awards. Cuz when you're young you don't have a lot of money to submit your stuff to. But in order to get more creatives of color into these elite awards, they have to they we have to start doing it earlier and feeling safe in the process. Right so that's what colorful was there for. And, you know, Russell's reserve was was great about putting that together then for the first year. In 2021. SHAN Wang won the award of the 3k Award. He's amazing filmmaker. And this year or second year, we had four winners and four cash prizes. There was a 3k for the first prize was won by Danica Tandel June 2 prize with 2k was the filmmaker Sebastian Hillis brand and then there are 242 1k winners for third place and also you know two people one young guns and also two people one young guns a year before like and next year we're gonna do it against and there's more, more funds coming in. So next year we've already gotten commitments from let's see Sunday afternoon, they're gonna commit a nice lump sum and also mental glue in the CCO of Ogilvy, he's, he's committing, and I'll Russell's reserve is going to come in again. And I'm going to come in again from personal funds. We're just going to keep going for it.
Nice. Nice. It sounds like an amazing opportunity. And I, I love that building the model of what the young guns does, but also making a free to enter. Yeah. Because I think with all these design schools, right in the country, public, private HBCUs HSI is right. It does feel like competitions is really access driven by who can afford to get in. Yes. Right. And I think that, especially for black and brown communities, yeah. And yeah, and this is geared towards bipoc communities like black and brown, indigenous people of color inclusive of Latin X and API, like that's really our target audience. And for those emerging creatives, multidisciplinary under the age of 30.
So usually, with those type of schools, yeah. The connections to these industries, right, like an HBCU or HSI is connection to the one club may not be as great, right as compared to these these larger schools. Right. So the pipeline is not there sometimes, right? And what it is, and even in our school, right, it really depends on faculty who know about these things being the one who shares this opportunity, but it's not this like, systematic approach that when the young ones comes out or younger, and awards come in come out, it is part of curriculum, it is this we're all going all in right to that. How do you think something like colorful or at least connections with the one club can help bring more exposure to those type of smaller schools who you're actually trying to get more stuff from?
Yeah, well, you I think you hit the nail on the head. I think that first step is really, you know, working with the faculty, working with the faculty so that the faculty like, you know, start making it a part of curriculums or like, you know, mentioning it essentially, like, what does that logline what does that elevator pitch that can codify what colorful is and also like an outline the opportunity, right? I think that's key. And I think also within the other sub chapters that are part of the one club. So the one club is also inclusive of the art directors club, and also the type directors club. I'm probably forgetting, like one other old like New York club associated with it. Right.
I think that's the end ADC, the type directors club, the one club club,
I think that's yeah,
that's all they've taken over so far. Which is a lot
when one shows what they used to be. Yeah, one show. Yeah, one show. Yeah. And yeah, so I think those other sub communities are key in, in communicating it to the individuals who qualify.
Yeah, cuz I think that's really, part of the issues that I tend to see is just the the pipeline being that light barrier, right? It's always like, without even knowing about it exists that can go over your head, because it's there for you. But you're just not aware.
Absolutely. And that's the thing. It's like we want everyone to apply. We want to make it hard on the judges, you know, put them to work and all the judges are, at least last year, past two years, all former young gun winners as well, a jury of their peers, also, all jurors who are creatives of color also multidisciplinary. So we're really trying to have a level of rigor on the curation side, the jury side that is in line and in league with the other awards of the one clip.
That's great, because I also think with that there's a shift in what is considered good yes, work right? I'm err, quoting right now, because what is good work? And who, who deems certain things good quality, right? How is it viewed based on the old European Western canon? Versiv, all of these things that we all talk about are hitting,
you're giving them my trigger words. Right,
right. Canon Western,
European, Euro century. Yeah.
But you know, how do we now look at something that traditionally from other people were judging would look at it and go, Oh, that looks rudimentary, that doesn't look this. Why are the colors clashing a certain way? And there's younger people understanding who we're bringing culture into the way they do their art form, their design, their thought process, right? You're allowed to explore and say, there's something there there's wrongness there absolutely. 10
culture is an input, right? I think we're only realizing that a culture is an input, right? But you don't realize that until you're in that position of power to make those decisions and look at a body of work and go, Oh, this is something else that they're bringing in from nothing that it learned in school, nothing that they learned here, you know, has nothing to do with grids and hierarchy and the typography that was, you know, like you said, the Helvetica is of the world. It's something totally, like instinctual, right? It just kind of comes with the territory for them. Right? And they're trying to show that and they just need somebody to be able to say, Oh, we see you. Yes. And it really is about that, like, oh, we see you. Also Yes, your culture is valid. And the thing that I've always hated about that The traditional Eurocentric lens that tends to shut down or tamp down individual culture. And also, you know, essentially the creative work of people of color is that when culture is a part of the creative, like intrinsically tied the creative, and then a Eurocentric opinion or Eurocentric trained, I, essentially unvalidated or kind of cast that creative aside, you're telling someone that their culture isn't valid. And that part just has never sat well with me. And I love the idea of opening up that aperture of influence, so that we can say like, yes, these are just as valid as what we have here thought of as tradition. And there's a whole community of practitioners that are also that speak that language.
Yeah, it's just interesting to now have this language that we all understand and take away from the fact that like, design now, intrinsically, does have a signature. Yeah, in the sense of either your culture coming out and your style coming out and things like that, where the Eurocentric model was to strip that all away, right. It was about the client, it was about the work. Yeah, right. You may have known some of the high end people who did it, but it was really, you know, you knew that because of a specific style. And it was kind of a clean, right? That whole like alignment. It was Yeah, it wasn't, but now it's about being like, Oh, this is this person's work. Who happens to be a designer? That's awesome. Right? Before it was like, oh, it's the brand, right? It's it's Wyden Kennedy, it's like a&r, it's all these people. It's like, no, no, now it's, it's the individuals who are bringing that level to this brand, that they happen to have all this power and influence with that are now working with that. Yes, I love the way that's shifting from just big brands and agencies, to the individuals who are then representing those big brands. That agency. Yeah,
absolutely. We're getting there. I know, slowly, but surely,
slowly, what needs people like you to keep on pushing that envelope? As we're closing up, and I think this is going to be like my Murray's episode where I can literally talk to rich for forever. As an artist, designer and practitioner, what is something new that you want to explore creative lives?
You know, I've been thinking about a lot lately, I want to do, I haven't done a show in a long time, essentially, like a self curated show that, you know, straddle the line between design, fine art and also technology. So I think that's something that I'm probably going to try to push in 2023. I've been thinking about a series, that would also be illustrative typographic, and maybe have like an AR lens component to it. So that's a bit of a teaser, if I could give you a vague or tease. But in terms of like something that I've just never quite done before ever. Oh, man, I probably gaming, I would love to, you know, tackle that. That industry in some way. I mean, I've dipped a toe. I've done a couple of things in it. But I want to do something that's very entrenched in a narrative experience within a game.
Right. All right. Yeah. If there is one, yeah. What shift Are you seeing currently in the creative industry?
I think there's a culture shift. I think the way that we look at authorship, and also the validity of influence, right, like, like everything that we just talked about, I also what else is there? I think the general practitioner shift is like a meteoric one where now a lot of designers are willing to be personality forward, but also willing to be product designers, typographers illustrators kind of attack it from several different angles. So we still have specialization. But the general practitioner, I think a lot of kids are coming out of school now with that approach and willingness to to push it there. What else is there? I think there's also the general shift of a lot of newcomers or a lot of emerging creatives wanted to go brand side, start brand side before it was like agency satellite. Let's fuck shit up with an agency that's willing to be disruptive. But I think a lot of young kids are actually want some type of stability that a brand can give them. I mean, I'm the sick bastard that left stability and went back agency side because they wanted the thrill, you know, so I don't know what what do you see happening? Like you're closer to it when it comes to young?
I mean, I think the shift is kind of owning your own story. Yeah, I think a lot of it and some of the things I teach is really being you know, we're the people that they're marketing to. Right. Yes, but the fact is that At the we're not usually the people who are in control of that marketing. And a lot of that stuff is is me trying to advocate for people to bring themselves as much as they can to the stories that they want to tell. Because then you can push the unique narrative that you understand, right, versus the narrative that maybe only sells more milk, you know, you understand the cultural reasons why we need this versus just the bottom line. Yeah. And so I think the shift is, is just the way we need to approach that. We shouldn't just be people who do the work on behalf of other people, you'd be doing the work on behalf of what we think is important.
Yeah, no, I agree. Do you see that a lot of the students in your class now have embraced entrepreneurship? I'm seeing that so much more now?
I think they do because of how social and things allow you to like be brands. Yeah. But I think the problem is sometimes is that it looks so shiny and perfect, that they don't understand what goes into it. And so it seems easy and attainable. And it is, but it's also a lot of hard work. Yeah. And behind the scenes, right, that we don't get to see. And that to me is always the problem with social is the veneer that's put up of what it's supposed to look like. Yeah, versus the hours and ages that it takes to actually create that 10 seconds of content that 32nd commercial, right, that two minute little video, you know, or even the, you know, the VMAs, even though it took you 72 hours to do like whatever approval process, whatever, but you said it was two months of, you know, just intense Yeah, intense hence, intensity, right? So, somebody, here's, oh, I can do that. That's cool. Like, and I'm like, no, no, two months of intense things, where you're also putting yourself out there, you're risking your reputation with clients, with friends with fellow crew
within the organization to like, yeah, you're it's basically swimming upstream where your roller skating uphill so often. Yeah.
So I think those are the things is the entrepreneurial nature is there. But because of the lack of understanding of how much things actually cost, understand, take time, there's a disconnect. And I think the more people like you or other people start to inform students what it really is to do the work. Yeah, that's where it takes, right, because like you said, your podcast is probably being listened to by students, such as mine, I hope as well. And the fact that learning from those stories is where you get to understand. Okay, I could get there was gonna take me some time. Yeah. Yeah. And I think one of the things I just I hear in your story is, you know, it all falls into place. You know, you've mentioned you had some struggles, and you mentioned that understanding that the lack of diversity was always put in your face. Right. But the story you tell is very like, hey, it all kind of just worked out.
Yeah, well, I mean, but that's also like the veneer like the Polish at the end. Like who knows, like, who's still noticed, at the end of the day, like, there's still more highway to drive.
Right. But it just seems very, very lucky and fortunate the way that your dad being an architect, you understanding that and coming into it, I think you said you had a brother in law who was already at an agency, right? So like, yeah, those things aligned for you, that you were able to parlay. And it seems not that you didn't put the work in? That's definitely because you just said you had spent three years at night school to, you know, go to, but I mean, it just seems like that's a smooth, smooth as a, you know, air quotes term, but like a smoother transition. And a lot of people, let's say, who don't have that same access that early age, yeah, who are always getting up a hill, right. You know, almost every Yeah, you know, you're
totally right. It's like, I'm super fortunate, and that there was the barriers for me, were slightly different they, and I found a way to navigate the barriers, but there were a lot of open doors to, you know, so I've kind of made it one of my life's missions to create more of those open doors, and also to set an example of like, what is possible.
And that's amazing. That's amazing, because I think that that is a testament to all the things that you're doing as being while you're doing them, right, understanding where it came from, and how to shift that into how to move those things. So lastly, yeah, I'm starting this new ending to my show where I'm calling it pay it forward. Okay. Right. And so who do you think I should have on the show and what one question about their process? Should I ask them
Oh, whoa. Oh, man. Is this like, just robbed your next fantasy factory right now? Can I just throw a toss on Eddie named you,
whatever this is, all you.
Let's see, one person you could have on the show.
And what would one question about their process? Should I ask them basically from you if I Yeah, I get to talk to them. And I'm like, Hey, rich wanted me to ask you this.
Yeah, okay. Damn, I would want to talk to Jim Cameron. Maybe, because I love entertainment. And I love film. And you know, I don't even think Jim Cameron is the greatest filmmaker of all time, or just he just top of mind because I was thinking about avatar to the way of water earlier today. I don't even care about the movie, but I'm interested in watching it just because I feel like some sick obligation to be aware of pop culture. So I would want to talk to Jim Cameron. But also, I'd want to ask him, essentially, what is the line that that he's willing to cross for filmmaking? Because you hear all these stories about a guy like him, like, almost killing his actors, you know, just going way over the top on a product that he's super passionate about when maybe a lesser filmmaker would have relented when even for Avatar to he's like, for this thing to break even it has to be like one of the top five grossing films of all time. So the bar is pretty high. Like where that is the level, can you imagine that level of pressure for a human being is like, I don't give a shit. They're crazy in that crazy. So I would love to get a peek into his mind and hear like, what is the level he's really willing to cross if there was no holds barred? In terms of filmmaking?
Yeah, that seems intense. Right? Where you're where? I mean, he's also put that level upon himself. Yeah. If he's like, I have to be the top five grossing film. Right. And and no, he's done it before. Yeah, but it's but it's like he's like Dr. Dre, though. Yeah,
cuz I remember Dr. Dre was like, after the chronic after chronic 3000 left. It's like It's like the pressure on top of Dr. Dre. Like depression on top of James Cameron. It's like, he it's only been up and he hasn't had a shit movie. Like we haven't we don't really think about it. He hasn't had a bad movie yet.
Can you imagine? Right? Right. But he also doesn't do that many movies. Now. He doesn't. Right. Right. Assault on level, right?
The escalation. Like even a person like Martin Scorsese, is willing to experiment, do things that are somewhat misses, you know, but ya know, do like James Cameron. It's like, all right. All right. Like what is your brain? Like?
Can't literally can we dissect this and just kind of see what it is? Yeah. And how things operate and where things pulse and like, yeah, you know, because there needs to be some sense of bravado to be like,
I need to put that much that amount of pressure on myself. Yes. To make this a success. Yes. Like a Kubrick in level of like intestinal fortitude. Yeah. But Kubrick was like, I don't give a shit. Whether you watch this, like, fuck, you know what I mean? But James cameras, like everyone has to
still has to watch this. Because otherwise, then I am a failure. Yeah, we're probably long. But what advice would you give a younger self,
I don't believe in advice. And that's always my preface for what I do give this piece of advice. I believe that you should chase your curiosity, like everything we talked about, chase your curiosity, because passion is the thing that's going to be your driver in this industry, there are so many barriers, and not even like, the barriers we were talking about that are for all that suddenly shut out communities. But like barriers of like just the normal everyday barriers, have a difficult client of difficult feedback of a project that maybe just not may not be what you want to work on right now. There's all that normal stuff. So really, you get out of this industry, what you want to put in, right. And if you're not chasing your passion, and if you don't love what you do, then really, this may not be the industry for you. So I would say pursue that passion with passion and do it in earnest. And, you know, if you have the energy to do the legwork, do as much as possible. And that's something that I've always stuck to. And that's helped me parlay my own career into something that has a modicum of success today. And I hope to continue, you know, just to kind of do my thing and do what I love.
So what's up next for rich to tell our listeners where they can find you, and all the things you're up to? Okay,
so let's see. First generation burn the podcast. It's a series of conversations with creatives, immigrants in the creative community that isn't currently in season eight, you can find that anywhere you find podcasts, and also colorful, colorful awards, year three and 2023. So be on the lookout for that, you know, we really want to, you know, let the judges put the jury to work. Really, truly, it's free entry. As long as I'm involved, it will always be free entry. I don't give a shit. It's good to know. Yeah. So you know, please do it. It's an amazing opportunity to not just kind of Uh, enter these types of awards, but also be seen by a jury of your peers. And let's see, check out some of the work at Jonell's Ricci, where I'm currently a group creative director, and what else we have coming out by Mini Coopers
those groups are still available. So checkout Mini Cooper, and I think just Google my name and Mini Cooper, and I'm sure there'll be some sort of link to purchase, I think those cars actually start hitting the road at some point this winter, which will be exciting. I've seen some of the rooftops actually get like, you know, place. And I, I know that there's a bit of a backorder of doing a small capsule collection for Reebok in 2023, for the 50th anniversary of hip hop. And that's, I think, some T shirts and maybe a sneaker piece.
I'm not sure the four elevens are gonna do a bunch of those.
I don't know like, it's an act of conversation. So I did see like the final like T shirt capsule, and like some of my pieces in there, like look pretty dope. So yeah, for one find me. Rich too. You can find me on social media for the most part at rich underscore to you, and find first gen br and the podcast at first unburden one word on Instagram. And that's where I'm most active. Awesome. George, this has been amazing.
Thank you so much. Rich for all the gems, the side conversations, the segways the the slight interview of me I love that I was like, Wait, am I the one doing this podcast? Or is i My enriches. You know, I really love to hear the way you were able to honestly, as you say, parlay and connect one thing to the next. And it seems very natural, how these client collaborations or moving from different agencies in house to, you know, agency side wanted to deal more with the creativity. I mean, the craziness, actually, and the energy, and how you're just driven by the love and passion for what you do. So thank you so much. I really enjoyed that. And once again, it was an amazing way to be back live and, and being face to face rather than just zoom. So thanks so much for this conversation. Awesome. Thank you, George. This has been works in process. Once again, I wanted to say thanks to rich for venture in the City Tech and chatting with me today in the pearl building. He's been blending how designers and artists are being represented via their work and their stories, which advocates for Diversity and Community. And it's prevalent in the projects he produces. He's changing the way creatives are viewed and who's being seen and I just wanted to say thank you. If you want to learn more about the various projects people organizations mentioned in our conversation, please check out the show notes in our podcast player or the website wi P dot show. The works in process podcast is created by me, George Gary stiggy, Jr. The content and transcriptions it'd be reviewed by horse shuffling or in this episode has been produced and edited by RJ Sileo. You can find the works in process podcasts on all media platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google, and more. And if you like the episode, feel free to give us a five star rating on Apple podcasts and or Spotify. And if you're extra generous write a review. It really helps. Just subscribe on whatever player you're listening to right now. It's that easy. Follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn to stay up to date on new releases of every episode. I appreciate you taking the time and journey with me and hope you enjoyed this conversation. Until next time, remember your work is never final. It's always a work in process.