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Kendell Burton

It’s been fun checking up on folks I’ve interviewed on Revision Path before, which brings us to my interview this week with art director Kendell Burton. When we spoke nearly a decade ago, he was just kicking off his career. Now he’s winning awards and staking his claim as one of NYC’s most dynamic creative talents.

We started off talking about his current work at international health agency 21GRAMS, and from there Kendell shared his story of growing up in Brooklyn and getting excited about tech through an unlikely source — Xanga. Kendell also spoke about the high points of his career, gave some tips about working at agencies, and talked about his horror podcast TerrorNova. Kendell truly loves what he does, and I can’t wait to see how his career continues to grow well into the future!

Interview Transcript

Maurice Cherry:
All right. Tell us who you are and what you do.

Kendell Burton:
Hey. My name is Kendell Burton. I am a senior art director at 21GRAMS, currently. I’ve been there now for a year. Yep. Coming up on a year. Yeah. Just past the year.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice. How’s the year been going so far for you?

Kendell Burton:
2023 has been nice so far. I can’t complain. I’m always excited for what comes each year. I try to mix things up a little bit.

Maurice Cherry:
Is there anything that you want to accomplish this year that you didn’t accomplish last year? Any New Year’s resolutions or stuff like that?

Kendell Burton:
I don’t really do resolutions that much, but I guess if I had to say the closest thing to it is this year I want to travel a little bit more. I haven’t traveled as much as I would like, in a lot of ways, these past few years. Of course, due to the pandemic and stuff like that. I want to get back to doing that a little bit more.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I hear you there. I took my first plane trip since the pandemic back in October. I went to Toronto and spoke at a conference. I was tripping, leading up to the trip. You see on the news folks be fighting the airports. I don’t want to go and it’s some hassle. I just want to go to the airport, get on the plane, get where I’ve got to go. You know what I’m saying? It was fine. Once I got back into that rhythm, I was like, “Okay. This is good. I can do this.”

Kendell Burton:
That’s cool. You went to Toronto. I love Toronto. It’s one of my favorite places to visit.

Maurice Cherry:
That was my first time visiting. I didn’t get to see a whole lot of the city because they had us right by the convention venue where we spoke at. I tell people that Toronto kind of feels like if Hollywood made a big city to shoot movies in, it would be Toronto. It feels like New York, but less gritty and grimy, in a way.

Kendell Burton:
That’s a perfect description, actually. Yep. Someone who goes there every year, that’s a perfect description.

Maurice Cherry:
Interestingly enough, I got to the airport, took my cab to the hotel, got to the hotel. Soon as I walk in the hotel, they’re playing Drake. I’m like, “Really? Really?”

Kendell Burton:
They love Drake over there. [inaudible 00:07:03] Drake. Cab drivers have asked me and my lady about that last time I went. I went in the summertime last year and the guy was like, “you heard of Drake?” I’m like, “I know [inaudible 00:07:11]. Who didn’t hear of Drake?”

Maurice Cherry:
Who hasn’t heard of Drake?

Kendell Burton:
I don’t listen to his music like that, but of course I’ve heard of the man. He’s like, “He’s not popular in America?” It said, “Very, very popular.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. You mentioned 21GRAMS. Let’s talk a little bit about the work that you’re doing there. Can you tell me about that?

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. I could tell you a bit about agency. I’ve been there, like I said, for a year. The work is pharma based, which is really interesting because it’s my first step ever into pharma. I’ve like never done anything pharma before this. It’s been really interested. 21GRAMS a pharma agency. It sometimes comes down to figuring out the best way to market a drug. Very similar to a traditional agency in the consumer space where maybe Mars or M&M’s would come to the agency and say, “Hey. We want to do a campaign. What should we do? What is the thinking? What is the concepts? What does your campaign look like?” That’s pretty much the 21GRAMS does with pharmaceuticals.

It could be a general campaign that’s about bringing awareness around a particular disease or particular condition that people suffer from or it could be a campaign that’s about a very specific drug that is meant to help and treat a very specific condition. The campaigns kind of range, but the thinking and all of that stuff, strategically, conceptually, design-wise, all that stuff still applies.

Maurice Cherry:
What is a typical day like for you?

Kendell Burton:
Oh, man. It’s exciting for me, because I’m still learning so much new stuff every day. Some things are the norm, just hopping on Teams or hopping in chats and talking to my teammates about what’s happening on the project. Some days can be very heavily design focused where I’m in design or Photoshop or XD or any of the millions of programs in the Adobe Suite. Could be one day of me making maybe working on a brochure or a lead behind or working on a direct mail alert or it could be working on a page for a website or I could be working on print ads. Like I said, it’s a variety. Honestly, some days can just be very heavily meeting focused where I may be having conversations with my internal team about the upcoming project, relaying questions to them about what I need to do, what I can do.

This is the interesting thing about working on pharma, you kind of have to learn about the drugs or a disease stage you’re trying to fix. That’s another meeting, they call it Med 101. They may be sitting in a meeting for an hour where I’m just learning about the condition that people suffer from and this is why this particular medication was created to treat this. It’s really interesting. My day could jump around. It could be very, very different from day to day.

Maurice Cherry:
What attracted you to work for them?

Kendell Burton:
I wanted to try something new, to be honest with you. I wanted to try something new. I remember telling them that during an interview process as well. I wanted to try something different throughout a good portion of my career I’ve to work consumer side, which you knows things like Nike, Adidas, my Little Pony, Hasbro, all of this variety of brands I’ve been fortunate to touch. I remember one of my professors always said with pharma, he was like, “Hey. Some people get stuck in it. Some people don’t like being stuck, so if you could try consumer for a little while and then go into pharma, so at least if you don’t enjoy pharma, you can go back. You might find that you like it, so it’s kind of up to you.”

I’m the type of person that likes to try new things. I was like, “Great. I’ve done all these years of consumer.” The opportunity for pharma came up to me and I was like, “Yeah, I want to try that. I haven’t done that before, I’m sure I’ll have to think differently and learn new things.” That’s kind of a part of a reason I got this field to begin with. So I was like, “Time to launch a new step.”

Maurice Cherry:
Overall, as an art director, what would you say is the best thing about the work that you do?

Kendell Burton:
It’s a lot of things. Of course I’m a fan of the end result, when the project is done. [inaudible 00:11:03] A everyone’s just like, “Wow, this really came out better than we expected.” It’s always great to hear that. I honestly love proving the people that design requires more work than people think. I think oftentimes people just to just go, well, you know the brand color is, what photography to use, I would direct that. I think sometimes a big part of art direction, which is different from design, they are not a hundred percent the same. A big part of our director is trying to direct people like, “Hey. We can do it like this. We can do it like this. I know you may be selling this particular thing, but we could style this in the style of, I don’t know, a Cinderella book or something or some type of fairytale story.” You could just remix things in the ways that people don’t expect and that’s a part of the experience.

It’s not just laying out the content, but it’s the way in which you lay out the content that makes things really interesting. That’s a part of the art direction. What type of typography do we use? What type of photography do we use? That’s a part of art direction that’s slightly separate from design, but is of course connected. That’s one of my favorite aspects of it. Just kind of showing non designers that and showing “non creatives” that aspect of what we do.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, I hear people kind of use art director and creative director somewhat interchangeably. What would you say are the difference between those two, from your perspective?

Kendell Burton:
I’ve heard it a few different ways. I would say, I guess, in my experience, the way the industry has been lately, within the time I’ve been in it, it seems like people have tried to merge the two. From my understanding how things used to be, there was never really a mergence of the two because thinking and doing are two very different tasks. There are people who are really good designers, like fantastic designers, but they may not be the best in terms of figuring out the best direction for something to look visually, but they may be the best to put it together. They just may not be the best to come up with the idea. Generating ideas is important. Similarly, to how people think of Apple when they’re just, “Steve Jobs didn’t design anything.” You’re like, “You’re probably right.” Having the vision and coming up with the idea is a big part of the process too. You can’t separate the vision from the actual technical part they’re doing.

I’ve always viewed creative director and art director as they’re different. In my opinion, the creative director is more of the manager. The creative director is the manager of the entire project. Not just necessarily the art aspect of it, but understanding what are we trying to accomplish? What are we doing on brief? What is the brief. What is the brief action? Do we have enough information in the brief? All of those things. I feel like, the creative director is a part of kind of guard railing to make sure that the art director and the designers can succeed.

The art director, I’ve always viewed it as art director is generally in charge of what is the ownable creative POV in which we can tell this story. Are we telling the story in a way of a video game? We know some type of video game narrative that uses maybe a UI video game experience. What are we trying to say? Here’s the best way to say it. The career director is just, I would say, there to make sure that you have all things in place such you can actually get to doing part. That’s just how I viewed it. I’m sorry if that sounds a little complex, but that’s just kind of how I thought it. Art director is the creative vision. Creative director is making sure art director has everything they do and need and being the guardrail and the pressure cooker to make sure that things are going out make sense.

They’re like the, I would say, the artistic version of the client. That’s how I’ve always thought of it. When I work on a project, even though I’m designing as well oftentimes, I’m going to the creative director far before I’m going to anyone else to go, “Hey, here’s what the brief said. Here’s what the POV is. Here’s what the goal is. Here’s how I think we should do that. We should tell that story. We should solve this problem. What do you think?” I feel like the creative director’s supposed to put their client hat on in some ways to go, “Okay. The client may or may not like certain aspects of this. We’re kind of pushing a bar, but that’s cool. Let’s push the bar. Let’s do this.” That’s kind of how I’ve always viewed it.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay, I got you. No, I like that distinction and that comparison. When I’ve had folks on the show or even when I’ve just talked to other creatives, I keep hearing them used interchangeably. I know they’re different, but I don’t know if they know that it’s different, if they’re saying one thing and it should be something else.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. That’s why I say what it is now, because from my understanding from people I’ve spoken to who have been in this field far longer than I have, even before I knew this field was an option in life, people who have been in this field maybe 20, 30 years, maybe even longer. They’re like, “Hey. These jobs used to be treated entirely separately.” Even the designer and art director were treated entirely separately. You weren’t just promoted from designer to then your next level was art direction because some can’t make that jump. I was like, “That makes sense.” Now it seems like it’s been smushed together in a lot of ways. I’m sure it has to do with money, it’s easy to pay one person versus two. I’m sure that’s why that decision was made. Everyone who’s an art director is not meant to be a creative director and vice versa.

Maurice Cherry:
Got you. Got you. I kind of want to switch gears here a little bit because you sort of alluded to earlier about not even knowing this was a profession. I kind of want to know about your origin story, how you first got into design and art direction and everything. You were born and raised in Brooklyn, right?

Kendell Burton:
Yes.

Maurice Cherry:
Tell me what it was growing up there.

Kendell Burton:
I loved it. I still live in New York. I’m not in Brooklyn anymore. Now I live in Manhattan, but I’ve always loved Brooklyn. It’s always had a good community, in my opinion, especially being a kid. I was born in 89, which isn’t that long ago, but it can feel like it [inaudible 00:16:42] hindsight. I’ve always had a really great community. I was not a cool kid, but I mean I had a good time as a kid growing up in Brooklyn. I was always in parks, really simple life. My family wasn’t super wealthy or had money to really do vacations in crazy places or anything like that. It was a lot of spending time with family, going to block parties when Block Brooklyn used to do more of that when I was a kid, block parties were a thing. The thing, especially in the summertime. It’s the best thing ever. Just every morning in the neighborhood comes out, everyone’s cooking, giving stuff to kids, nobody’s worried about kids getting kidnapped. It was chill. It was really cool.

I really just loved that as a kid. That’s literally my fondest memory of Brooklyn is just block parties and everybody just kind of being out and no one calls [inaudible 00:17:31]. Everyone’s just chilling. Hey, you want a hamburger? We’re making burgers over here. You want some hotdog? You want some ribs? Everyone’s making everything. It’s a great time. I loved it.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I love that sort of sense of community that comes from close-knit places like that. I mean, I grew up in the deep south, but that’s one of my memories of growing up is we were around this tight-knit community where if you needed something, you went across the street. It sounds quaint. Oh, I’m going to go across the street and borrow a cup of sugar or whatever, but you could do that. Folks would sit out on their porch and wave to each other and all of that. Doesn’t happen now, but back in the day it definitely was just a different vibe back then.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. I try to recreate that in my everyday life in some capacity. It’s a little challenging, but I try to create some small aspects of that going forward.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, were you a really creative kid? Did you do a lot of drawing and stuff?

Kendell Burton:
I tried. I tried. I guess I would say I was creative. I was like every other kid watching Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon and things like that and trying to draw the character as best I could. I did have that aspect of it. Drawing never really stuck with me, but I did do that. I just enjoyed comedy and seeing and doing creative things. I was a really active kid. I was never one of those kids who just knew what they wanted out of life in terms of … Some kids are like, “I know I want to be a doctor. I know I want to be this.” When that question came to me in elementary school, I was like, “I don’t know, man. I’m five. I know firemen do cool stuff, but I know police do their thing. All these other companies and professions do their things, but I don’t know. Can I just learn life?”
That was always how I’d been. I would just learned stuff. I was like, “Oh. This is interesting. That’s interesting.” Standup comedy was interesting. My father would play that stuff in the house and that’s how I knew Richard Pryor and things like that. I was like, “This is funny. This is interesting.” It was movies another thing.I just experimented with everything.

Maurice Cherry:
You said you were born in 89, right? Right around that time of the late eighties, early nineties. I would say even going into the mid and late nineties, there was such an explosion of culture that happened, I think particularly here in the US, because of the advent of technology and personal computers and cable and the internet and all that sort of stuff. Prior to the generation before us, we just got exposed to so much more stuff at a formative age. It kind of makes sense that when that question gets asked about what do you want to be, it’s tough because you have so much choice.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. I think it’s good to have choice. I’m always the person that thinks people need to experience stuff to know what they like. That’s just how I view it. I guess you can call it my childhood wisdom even. That was just the way I viewed things. I was like, “I don’t know until I tried it,” I would just try stuff. That’s why I played a billion sports. I was also drawing stuff. I was trying to write poetry, I was doing so many things. I was just like, “I don’t know what I’m good at yet. I know I’m smart. I don’t have any self-esteem issues or self-confidence issues, but I need to explore the world. I just got here. I’m eight.”

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Now did your family support you in this, all this sort of exploration of all these different things?

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. Yeah. They definitely did. My dad, I mainly raised by my dad, because my mom passed when I was a young age. My dad, he didn’t even tell me to do these things. I just was interested in stuff. I would see stuff that he did and I was like, “That’s kind of cool,” obviously. Whether it was movies we watched or TV shows or bike riding. We did a lot of bike riding when I was a kid. I still try to ride my bike now. It still applies. Seeing things in the world, seeing things in the park, seeing people try stuff maybe in a TV show and I’m like, that’s interesting. Let me try that. My parents never discouraged me from doing anything.

They kind of in some ways opened the world up to me. They didn’t really shield me from things in the world heavily. They were just kind of like, “Yeah. Some things are like this and things like that.” They kind of encouraged me to ask questions and tell them my thoughts if I had any. I just kept going. I just kept doing it.

Maurice Cherry:
Now I read in another interview that you cut your teeth in tech trying to set up a Xanga blog to meet girls. Is that right?

Kendell Burton:
Yes, that is.

Maurice Cherry:
Talk to me about that. What’s the about?

Kendell Burton:
This is my origin story. You know what’s funny? I tell this story at job interview, so I’ll tell you exactly how I tell it. I need people to know my personality. I’ve always felt like if people don’t understand my personality then there’s no point in me working at places. I tell them the same story when I go to job interviews. People are like, “What got you in the design?” I go, “Women.” People are like, “What? What does that mean?” It’s not a answer you expect. You expect me to sit down and be like, “I was drawing such a young age, Picasso.” No, it was none of that.

It was gross. I was a teenager, I was 13 years old. I had my first summer job or first job, period. It was a summer job. I worked at a senior center in Queens. I lived in Queens at the time. I worked at the senior center and Ravenswood in Queens. This kid that I worked with with was a little older than me. He was a graduating senior in high school. I just finished my freshman year. He was always on this website called Xanga. I didn’t know what it was. I just saw he was always on it.

They had a computer. This is before computers were everywhere. People had computers, but not everyone had a computer at home. I was one of those people that didn’t have a computer at home. I knew how to use computers because schools had computers. In our office job, at the senior center … It was office job. You’re sorting paperwork, you may occasionally have to type something, you may occasionally have to send an email. We mostly hung out with the elderly people that were there, because that was what it was. It was like maybe bringing lunch to him, stuff like that. It was just a space where older people could hang out in the summertime and they didn’t have to go out and worry about the heat or anything like that. It was a really chill place.

My coworker that worked there, he was just on his website all the time, Xanga. I always saw he was on there, whether he was putting music or changing photos. It was a really simple blog. I guess this was before people even called them blogs, but it was a really simple blog. He always had music playing. He was just metal. He had cool backgrounds. I think one day after a few weeks of getting to know him, I was like, “Hey, man. What is this website?” He was like, “Oh. I use it to talk to my friends who are” … What is the word I’m looking for? For people who were shipped out in the military, because he was in a program called ROTC, I believe was the name of it, which is kind of a preparation program for people who were going to go to the military or go to military schools, things like that. He was like, “Yeah. I stay in touch with my friends who are overseas and who have already been deployed. I just used us to stay in touch with them and talk to other people.”

I was like, “Oh, that’s cool. That’s really cool. Can I meet girls on here?” Specifically, can I meet girls on here? He was like, “Well, technically, yeah.” I was like, “Cool. That’s all I need to know. Create a profile for me.” [inaudible 00:24:45]. I had my own page. I remember my username was Shadow 1989. I had my own page and I just started tinkering with it, because I saw that he was always tinkering with it. I was like, well, what can you do? The page gave you limited HTML on coding capabilities, honestly. It was like you can change the background color, you can put an image in the background, you can position the image in the background, you can change the color of the text. You could change some of the effects over the text. Maybe you hover over the text and instead of it going purple, maybe it glitters or something. It was just these little capabilities that were really cool. Me and my friends were literally Googling stuff to find out how to change the code on certain things.

It just opened up a can of worms. I was on it all the time, customizing my page all the time, thinking of really interesting themes for my page. Oh, I want to do a Final Fantasy theme. I think at the time, Final Fantasy 10 was a thing. I had the photo of Titus and Uno. It’s from the game for people who played the game. There’s a scene in the game that’s really beautiful where they’re in this water and there’s these fireflies around. I had that in my background. The hover state for my links was this sparkling glitter that looks like it was from the scene. It was beautiful. [inaudible 00:26:03].

I didn’t know what design was at the time, but I was just doing that all the time.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I mean I think what you’re mentioning here is something that’s really important for, I think, anyone that’s looking to learn something new. Use the gateway of something that you enjoy to be that sort of fuel that pushes you into it. Do you think you would’ve gotten into this if you couldn’t meet girls or … You know what I mean? Because you knew that because that was an avenue for you, you’re like, “Okay. I think I want to learn more about this,” because you had a vision of what you wanted to do because of what you were interested in.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. It was a hundred percent that. See, that’s the funny part. I had years of using that software, using that website. I got all my friends hooked on it. We were all 13 at the time. I think one or two of my friends maybe a year older. We all got hooked on Xanga. We’re all using it for the same reasons, pick up girls. We also all were just really getting into the design aspect of it, but not knowing that it was something that people do professionally.

The way I found out graphic design was an option was in my junior year of high school. Yeah. My junior year of high school, I had a computer class. I transferred schools. I went back to Brooklyn. I had a computer class, I remember with a teacher, Mr. Mastell. That was his name, Mr. Mastell. Mastell. I remember his name. Really nice guy. I remember seeing him years later and I told him this story. He laughed. He was like, “I forgot all about that.” I was like, “I know you’ve had a hundred students.” The computer class, we had to build a webpage. We had to build a website, but mainly you could just build a webpage. He was like, “Just build a page.” In that class, as we were on computers all day, I was bouncing between building my page and then playing with my Xanga. Why not. I’m a kid so this is what I do.

Then one day the teacher was coming over to my desk and I was on Xanga and I saw he got close, because remember when he used to have those big computer monitors, it wasn’t like [inaudible 00:27:54]. Well, you could see somebody walking up to you. It was the big one. I didn’t see him until his shadow basically came over the top of my screen. I was like, “Oh snap. Let me minimize this window.” Being an old computer, the window froze and it got stuck. My Xanga page was just stuck on the page. I’m just sitting there clicking so hard on the minimize button. It just wouldn’t minimize. He came by and he was like, “How’s your project going?”

He sees my screen. I’m like, “It’s going.” He was like, “Hold on. What’s that?” I was like, “I don’t know. This thing [inaudible 00:28:29].” Yeah. I thought I was in trouble. He was like, “No, that’s actually really cool.” I remember having this tornado marquee with typography coming out of and stuff. He was like, “That’s really cool. Wow, that’s really cool. How did you even learn how to do that? I didn’t teach you guys anything like that. This is cool.” He was like, “Wow. You should maybe be a designer or something.” I said, “Hold up. I was just using this to pick up women. You’re telling me I could have a career choice here?”

He was like, “Yeah. There are people who do graphic design, professionally, whether it’s websites or other stuff.” I was like, “I had no idea. I’m so happy you said that. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do in college. I just knew I wanted to go to college.” That was kind of how it started.

Maurice Cherry:
Speaking of college, you went to City Tech. For folks that have been listening to the show for a while, we’ve had a few professors on the show; Douglas Davis, Danny Shaw, we’ve had a couple of City Tech alums too. Tell me what your time was there.

Kendell Burton:
That’s my professor, Douglas Davis. I had him as a professor.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, really?

Kendell Burton:
Yep. Danny Shaw, that’s one of my good friends.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice.

Kendell Burton:
City Tech was great, man. I loved City Tech. It was a really nice experience to get around other people who were trying to do something in field. Remember, I’m just a kid who’s just playing around on the website. I don’t know design principles, I don’t truly know color palettes. I know how to use color. I know what looks good to the eye. I wasn’t that kid who was like, well, you’re supposed to use these particular shades of red to go with this particular shade of blue. I didn’t understand or know any of that, because I never was traditionally taught any of it. That’s why college was really great, because I got to really see the basics of how to do some of these thing, even just basic drawing. I still don’t draw much to this day, but just having life drawing classes and things like that was really fun. You see different people skill levels. You see people who’ve clearly been doing it for way longer than you, or you see people who are also learning as well.

Meeting these people, becoming friends with them and become friends with the professors. City Tech was honestly one of the best parts of my life. I met a lot of really cool people that I’m friends with to this day. It was great. It was a great experience, man, from beginning to end. My skillset was terrible walking in, considering I only knew how to play around on our websites. To what it was post, after leaving City Tech, like drastic change, man.

Maurice Cherry:
I’d imagine it was probably pretty cool also having a black male professor, someone that’s teaching you how to do all this stuff too.

Kendell Burton:
Oh, yeah. Doug was cool. His class was hard. As somebody who didn’t have any traditional training in the field or any understanding of what a concept for a campaign was, it was very hard for me at first. I remember telling him this. He was always just like, “Oh, I know it’s hard. I make it hard because this is what it’s going to be like.” His class isn’t hard for the sake of being hard. It’s hard because he’s being realistic about how projects are done and the actual agency space. I was like, “Okay, cool.” It was super challenging. I didn’t know how to come up with a concept fora campaign. I didn’t know what a campaign truly was. I knew commercials I saw that were really cool. I remember, I used to always tell people this joke, but I’m clearly when I saw the Old Spice commercial, which was out at the time with the dude … What was his name Isaiah Washington?

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, Isaiah Mustafa, I think.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah, something like that. The guy riding on the horse?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Yeah.

Kendell Burton:
[inaudible 00:31:42] to the camera. That came out when I was in college. I remember seeing that commercial going, I don’t know how they got to a black guy on a horse, but I know it couldn’t have just been somebody saw Old Spice black guy on a horse. There had to be thinking again from A to that. There had to be thinking. He was like, “Yeah, for sure.” I was like, “I don’t know what any of that thinking is, but I would love to learn.” His class was great for that. His class was really, really good for that. Yeah. Seeing a black professor was awesome. In a lot of ways he was inspirational, because I didn’t have many black professors prior to that, that I can recall, let alone that was still actively working in the field and still was keeping up with where things are moving. He’s a very innovative professor for not just City Tech, but just in general.

Maurice Cherry:
What was your early career after you graduated? You obviously had this interest that you had sort of cultivated through getting on Xanga and meeting girls and stuff. Then you’re also strengthening it through college. Once you got out there, what was your early career?

Kendell Burton:
It was interesting, man. I didn’t know where to go. There’s no clear handbook for what you do once college is done. You know you want to get a job in your field, but for somebody like me, like I said, I didn’t know what was possible. I had a better idea of what was possible after all of this college stuff, whether [inaudible 00:33:02] internships or talking to professors or being fortunate to volunteer for some award shows to actually see what those were like. I still didn’t really know where I wanted to go. When I graduated, I didn’t get a job right away, but I was applying places. I was talking to recruiters and all that. I still do that to this day, honestly. Talk to recruiters, email recruiters, hop on the phone with recruiters and talk to them. I always kind of try to make a habit of that because you never know.

Actually, Doug used to always say this. He was like, “It’s best to talk to people when you don’t need them.” [inaudible 00:33:35] for a favor. I was like, he’s a hundred percent right because I hate when people hit me up only to ask for favors. I try to it make a habit. No, I make it a habit to be a good person in general, not just when I need something, to everybody, whether you can give me something or not. I was the same way with recruiters. Yes, I needed their help when I was coming out of college, but I was also just trying to build a relationship. It actually worked out for me. That was how I got my first job.

I got my first job three months after I graduated college. It was at VaynerMedia. I got that job because of a recruiter that I spoke to probably about two or three times a week. He was always so proactive about trying to help me get something, it’s my homeboy Jakes. We still talk from time to time. He was so proactive about helping me get a gig because he was like, “Your work is clearly good. Obviously you’re a junior and [inaudible 00:34:22] stuff you have to learn.” I’m like, “I know. For sure. I’m willing to learn it.” He was like, “I’m going to keep trying to place you.” He kept trying to place me.

Then eventually the intermediate reached out to me through email for an interview. I went to the interview, I got the job. I was like, “Wow. This is awesome. I got first job.” Ironically, the first day I ran into him in the bathroom. He was like, “Hey.” I was like, “Hey, man. What’s going on?” He was like, “Hey. How’s everything going?” I was like, “Good.” He was like, “How’d you think you got the job interview?” I was like, “I don’t know. They just randomly reached out.” He said, “It was me, dude. I recommended you.” I was like, “Oh, thank you, man. I didn’t know. You didn’t tell me that. I knew you left your recruiter job, but I didn’t even put two and two together that you came here and then they reached out to me.” I was like, “That’s so cool. I appreciate that.”

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I remember when I reached out to you. I think this was almost 10 years ago, almost a decade ago. Good Lord. You were working at VaynerMedia at the time. For people that know Vayner Media was founded by Gary Vaynerchuk, who … I haven’t really followed him lately, but I know back during that time, right before he started VaynerMedia, was really well known in the social media entrepreneurship space. What did you learn from that experience working there?

Kendell Burton:
I will say a lot. Honestly, I also want to preference, I didn’t know who he was when I went to the job interview.

Maurice Cherry:
That probably is a good thing, to be completely honest with you.

Kendell Burton:
I guess. Well, I’m sure people do, but I didn’t go there like, “Hey, I really want to work with Gary.” In my mind I’m like, I just got out of college. It’s an interesting job where I could do social media work. I’ve always been told that digital is going to be the future anyway, in a lot of ways. This is a cool opportunity. I remember the woman who interviewed me, she said, “Hey. Do you know anything about Gary?” She was like, “I’m not going to hold it against you. I just want to know.” I was like, “I don’t know anything about this man. I just found out who he was when I found out about this agency and that’s fine. I’m cool with that.” That’s not to say that he’s bad or anything, it’s just I didn’t know who he was prior to getting the job.

Sorry, what was the question?

Maurice Cherry:
What did you learn from that experience working there? Did it teach you anything? Any sort of lessons that you still carry with you to this day?

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. I worked with some really awesome art directors there who were, I would say, patient with me. I tell everybody, you need patience with people. Regardless of job level and title, you need patience with people. It was my first gig. I’d done social media work a little bit prior to that, but honestly not a lot. I did intern at Buddy Media when I was around at one point I interned at a F Sharp building user experiences for social, but not creating daily social content.

Working at Vayner was a bit of a change, because at that time we were pumping out social content for so many different brands daily. It was a very go-getter energy. I kind of really liked that. I didn’t right away appreciate it. I was kind of like, “What’s going on here? What the hell’s going on here?” Because everyone was kind of bouncing around doing different things. I would see the art director. He’s like, “I’m heading to a shoot.” Then I see him five minutes later, he’s like, “I’m designing something for something.” Then I see him a few minutes after that. He’s like, “I’m overseeing this other person who’s working on a different brand, but I’m in charge of what happens on that brand.” I was just like, “Wow, this guy’s doing a lot in two hours. There’s a lot happening.”

That was just the energy there at the time. Even as a designer, they gave me a good amount of responsibility. I was in charge of my daily creative needs where it was a certain amount of content for maybe a brand I was on. I was on Hasbro. I touched a lot of brands when I was there, probably some of the most in my life. It’d be like maybe designing maybe four to five pieces of content a day. I remember this daily content, they’d do daily content at the time for brands. My day would be designing maybe four or five things. Then I may be leading a small photo shoot for one of the products for one of our brands. Then maybe I’m also helping out somebody else for another brand because maybe someone just needs a body to do something.

Hey, guys. We’re trying to record a Vine, when that was a thing. Need someone to be here. We need someone to be here. Who’s free to help? Then it’s like, “Kendell, are you free for 10 minutes?” Sure, I’m free you. Then I’ll go in and help out with a Vine, whether we’re doing something for Chips A-Hoy or doing something for a random brand. I was like, “Cool.” It was just a really good go-getter energy. I really appreciated and that it. It was really cool. It was a lot to learn there from everything that was just happening.

Maurice Cherry:
Now after VaynerMedia, a couple of years afterwards, you ended up working at another agency G and you were their lead designer. Was that kind of a big shift from that sort of fast hustle culture that it sounds like VaynerMedia had to, what was going on at GLOW?

Kendell Burton:
A little bit. Yeah. A little bit. I felt like with Vayner, often days you didn’t know what you were going to get. I knew it was going to be designing a few things, but you sometimes didn’t know if you were going to be leading the shoot or volunteering with different things. There was a lot going on. It was really fun. I loved being a part of that. That was awesome. GLOW is drastically different and drastically smaller. It was way smaller. When I first got to Vayner, I think two weeks in and they were moving to a new office, because they needed more space. I think we might’ve been over 300 employees at that point. It was a lot of people there. So much so I started losing track of names of so many people. If you weren’t on my direct team, or I didn’t work with you in the past, it was hard to keep track of names. There was so many people.

GLOW was a lot smaller. GLOW was maybe 20 to 30 people.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, wow.

Kendell Burton:
[inaudible 00:39:41] the creative team. I meant the company was 20 to 30 people. It was a lot smaller. The work I did there was some of my favorite work I’ve done in my career. It was just a good time. It was a different experience. Whereas, Vayner was a lot of consumable goods, whether it was like Hasbro or Chips Ahoy and things of that nature. With GLOW, it was a lot of entertainment focused. It was TV shows, which was drastically different. I worked on social for a lot of TV. It was still social based, so that aspect I still hold down to. It was a lot of TV shows, whether it was shows for HBO, Showtime, Star, Sci-Fi Channel. It was a lot of TV shows. There was a little bit of a learning curve in what you can say for a TV show, what you can do or what you can’t do. It was interesting.

Maurice Cherry:
Interesting. I’m trying to place the year. I’m guessing this is like 2010s maybe, mid to early 2010s?

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. Roughly about maybe five years ago almost. Probably mid to late.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay. Yeah. I think about how television and social, because you mentioned that, I remember when Scandal came out on ABC. I had been on Twitter. I had been on Twitter since 2007. I don’t think the concept of live tweeting a television show was really a thing back then until that show. It really popped off. Now you go on Twitter and you can’t escape every web series, movie, television show has some kind of hashtag or social campaign behind it or something. I feel like that was really sort of the golden age of that stuff popping off.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. Yeah. I was actually just looking at the year. It was like 2015 till 2018 I was there. Yeah. Definitely during that time where live tweeting was becoming a big thing and brands were starting to care, TV shows in particular, but all brands. Really TV shows are starting to care a lot more about how they appeared on social, how did they engage with the audience? Were they doing good stuff prior to the episode airing and then during the episode earring and then after the episode airing. It was really cool, man. It was a great time. Some of the stuff I got to touch and work on, some of the most fun work I’ve done in my career, honestly. It was just a really interesting time.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, after GLOW you worked for even more agencies. You worked for 360i, you worked for Collected, you worked for Ghost Note. We actually had their art director on last year, Rebecca Brooker. What draws you to working for agencies?

Kendell Burton:
They keep hiring me.

Maurice Cherry:
Look, that’s real. Hey, I get it.

Kendell Burton:
It’s really that. They kept hiring me. From Vayner, like I said, I had no predetermined career path. I was like, “Well, this agency works for me, let me try another one.” It just kind of kept snowballing that way. It’s been good. It’s been interesting. It’s been good. I’ve learned different things from every agency. They just kept hiring me and I kept getting really interesting opportunities. I was like, why not? I’ll keep rolling with this. It just kept working.

Maurice Cherry:
What qualities do you think agencies look for in a designer? Is it just about having a portfolio of good work or is it something else?

Kendell Burton:
I think it’s a little bit of both. I’ve heard people say different things, but I think it’s a little bit of both. I think on one hand they see a portfolio that people look for potential. They’re like, “Oh. How does this person think? What does this person think about?” Who they are based on their work. Then I also think they’re looking for a fit. Oftentimes, a lot of agencies, at least a lot of ones I’ve experienced, I can’t speak for all agencies. A lot of agencies I’ve experienced, they usually hire because they were trying to fill a specific need. It was like we got new business coming in. They probably have a specific type of business coming in, so they’re looking for a specific type of person to fit that brand that they’re bringing in. Whether it’s a cooking brand or something, like looking for somebody that probably fits that niche.

Sometimes it’s just general and they’re just like, we just need bodies in here. We need people in here who are going to fit the mold and fit the team. I think oftentimes people are looking for a specific kind of fit. Yeah. It is your work. I think also it’s a part of who you are. That perspective of who you are can be very helpful in your day-to-day life.

Maurice Cherry:
I’ve always kind of just been curious about that because I mean, I’m speaking partially from personal experience, but also from what I’ve heard from other designers. For those that may have worked on more of the UX side or product or tech, what I’ve heard and experienced personally is that it’s hard to break agency because agencies are looking for “agency experience”. Have you heard that before?

Kendell Burton:
I have heard that. I have heard that, but I can’t say definitively they are, because I think it’s mixed. Here’s the thing. I think a lot of people like agency experience because agency … It’s just my opinion, I’m not speaking for everyone. I think a lot of people look for agency experience because agency experience tells them that you know how to deal with a lot of crazy things happening at once. I think there is an underlying but known secret that a lot of agencies are not super organized. I don’t think it’s that they’re unorganized, because they just decided we’re going to not be organized. There’re things that happened. There’s a lot of moving pieces in our field from account, strategy, creative. There’s a lot of moving pieces. It’s easy for something to slip through the cracks. Some people can’t function when things slip through the cracks. They’ll just be honest. There are different personalities. I have friends who don’t want to do agencies at all. I understand, because I work in agencies so I can understand why that wouldn’t be for everyone.

As an employer I can see why employers would see that as exciting because it’s like, “Wow. This person knows how to kind of function in a little bit of chaos. They may be good here.” Some people don’t know how to function in that little bit of chaos. Depending on the type of jobs or internships you’ve had prior, you may not have dealt with this kind of chaos. You may have been in-house, probably had one brand. That one brand that’s probably not super dependent where you selling something every day. You just kind of, not coasted, you ain’t coast, but your workload was different.

Agency, you could be on three brands doing campaigns for three different projects that are completely different. They have the deadline of four days between the three, they just slightly staggered. That’s not what it should be like, but that is what it’s like sometimes.

Maurice Cherry:
You know what? Thank you for saying that. I have asked that question to so many people and the response I get is almost like they’re ruining the first rule of fight club. It’s like, “Oh, well I can’t tell. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it.” Even my personal experiences with trying to work at agencies, they’ll look at my work and be like, “Oh. Well, you’ve done all this tech stuff. We’re really looking for agency experience.” I’m like, “Well, I can’t get agency experience if I don’t work at an agency.” I’m glad that you mentioned what that distinction is.

I get. It makes sense mean. From the other folks that I’ve had on the show that have worked at agencies, you do have the opportunity to work on lots of different projects. It can be kind of fast-paced, a little frenetic. Again, if you’re in-house and you’re only working on a brand or part of a brand or part of a product, it’s just different. It’s just a different type of workflow.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. It’s very different. I often think when I’m on Twitter, I’m on Twitter quite often, but I’ll see someone, unfortunately when Twitter did all those layoffs, a lot of different people talked about different aspects of their job. Some of those people have very specific needs, I mean very specific rules. Some people were like, “I work just on bookmarks.” I’m just like, “Only bookmarks? That’s all you did for Twitter? You work specifically on bookmarks?” That’s really interesting. I wonder what their day to day is. That’s tech, so it could be very … That’s not to say their life’s cushy, but if you’re working on just one thing …

Maurice Cherry:
It’s a little cushy. A little cushy.

Kendell Burton:
I would hope your job is some level of cushy from time to time. Every day can just be grinding nonstop. I would [inaudible 00:48:00]. You go, “Wow, that’s cool. You get to work on this one thing and really refine this one thing.” There is a lot of pros to that, but some people could look at that as a con, because like I said, similarly to the creative director, art director thing, it seems like people are kind of smushing these roles together. They want somebody to be a bit of a Swiss Army knife.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. It’s so tricky because in the tech world, at least what I’ve found, there’s just so much sort of needling down to specialty. They want specialists. They want a UX person that’s done work on a healthcare brand. They’re looking for a specific person that fits in that specific niche. It could be a person that’s done UX as more of a generalist, but if they haven’t done it for this brand or this type of company, then they’re like, “Oh. We’re looking for this one thing.” I’m kind of grossly generalizing this, so please, people don’t write to me and be angry. I find tech really wants specialists in very particular, finite roles and places, because even that can differ for company. Whereas, advertising is kind of more about, like you said, being a Swiss Army knife, someone that can do a lot of things at a particular level across a number of different brands.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. That’s not bad. I don’t think being a specialist is bad. I don’t think being a general is bad. When somebody’s hiring, they could ask for whatever they want.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. It’s wild man. It’s wild.

Kendell Burton:
It is.

Maurice Cherry:
What advice would you give to somebody listening to this episode and they want to follow your example in being an art director. What would you tell them?

Kendell Burton:
Network. I always tell people this for any field, but network heavily. Network. That means with people in your field and out of your field. It is good to know people because the more you get to know people, you get a better idea of not only what they’re capable of, but maybe what you’re capable of, which you didn’t even consider. Right now we’re talking about design and the design field, but there are a million other ways to be a part of the design field and be a part of this industry in one way or another, whether it’s a strategist or an account person. There’s a lot of other ways that can still utilize design thinking. You could have a good design taste, but be a project manager. You don’t necessarily have to be the person that’s in Photoshop. You could have a good design taste and be an account person. That doesn’t mean that you are a designer, but that means that you can at least do a good job backing up the designs that are being presented to clients. There are a lot of ways into this industry.

I think you need to talk to people and network with people to kind of figure that out. Hell, go on LinkedIn, man. Go on LinkedIn. If you ain’t got one, create on LinkedIn. Message absolute strangers. I think of it as back in the AOL days when people were just online like, “A/S/L, where you at,” but on LinkedIn. You type in project manager, if that’s what you want to be. You could literally type in project manager or senior project manager. A bunch of people will come up. You can narrow it down to your state, your country, whatever you prefer. I would just recommend you message somebody.

Hey, man. I’m a new kid who’s interested in project management. I see that you have a title that does this. Can I ask you about it? I’ve done some research on project management, but do you have a few minutes to tell me what you do or type? Why not? Right? You may not get response, but LinkedIn has unlimited people. You can do this all day. You can do it for five people a day. Somebody might respond. I’m saying that because I did that. I did that at times when it came to finding a job. I got an interview at ESPN a few years ago because of me doing that.

I was going online, looking up other things. I was like, hey, I’m interested in sports. Let me see what people were doing in this. I’m looking for recruiters. Recruiters, lot of times they’ve got the 411, they know what’s going on, they know what’s happening. I was just online looking up recruiters. All right, man, design recruiters or recruiter or whatever, narrow it down. Okay, cool. I’m not familiar with this recruiting agency. Let me reach out to one person that works there and tell them who I am and maybe they can at least give me on their list of creatives and then down the line they can push something out from me. I started those conversations. Somewhere along the way, somebody at ESPN got pushed my way. I was like, “Oh. That’s great.” I had an interview at ESPN. I would’ve never gotten one otherwise, probably just existing out here. People do and just get reached out to, but you can also play a little bit of active role. That’s networking.

I would highly recommend your network online, of course. I would also recommend you network work in person, the people you sit next to in class. Doug used to always say this to us, Professor Doug, our professor, as I always call him. He always said this. You’d be like, “The people who sit next to you in class, to your left, to your right front and the back, these might be the same people you end up working with. You never know which one of them end up giving you a job or you end up giving them a job or they end up recommending you for something or you end up recommending them for something.”

I have friends who finished in City Tech like I did, who did not get into design, who still reach out to me for design related jobs doing other things. They just reach out to me. They just like, “Oh, Kendell, I was thinking about you because this gig popped up.” Does that always mean I want it? No, but that opportunity is there from me just being a good person and being their friend for so long that they’re just like, “Oh. I thought of Kendell when I saw this.” There were 40 other people in his classroom, when we were teens learning this stuff, and he was like, “I thought Kendell when this position popped up. That’s why I’m reaching out. What’s going on, Kendell? Network.

Maurice Cherry:
Network. I agree with that a hundred percent. That’s a really great thing I think people should all try to cultivate. Like you said, you never know when you’re going to need it. Don’t just do it when you’re in need. Continually network even when you’ve got the job, when you’re in the job, but just let people know that you’re always out there.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. That’s how I met Danny. I met Danny through networking.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, was he not teaching at City Tech when you were there?

Kendell Burton:
No. When I was there, Danny had already graduated. He’s a few years older than me, so he had already graduated. I think I might have heard his name in passing because Professor Davis mentioned him a few times. At City Tech, I think they still have it, we had a design club. In the design club we would do this event called Meet the Pros. We’d bring the professionals to talk to the students. We’d also do an alumni version where we’d bring back people who graduated from City Tech who are working in the field. Danny was one of the people who they brought in.

I wasn’t the president at the time, so I was just a part of the club. I wasn’t the one actively talking to them that had those conversations. Well, after the event was over, I was like, “Hey, man. You seem really cool. I appreciate everything you said in the talk, man. You want to stay in touch?” Then we just stayed in touch. Now we’re good friends. We are very good friends.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Now, aside from work, you are a podcaster. You co-host a show called TerrorNova. Tell me about that.

Kendell Burton:
That’s my baby. TerrorNova, it’s a horror podcast as it says in the title. It’s TerrorNova Horror Podcast. Me and actually one of my fellow alumni from City Tech, Jackie, Jacqueline Martinez, we both were fans of horror. We’re both really big fans of horror.I grew up watching horror. She grew up watching horror. We’re both massive fans of horror. Even when we were City Tech, whenever I needed somebody to talk about horror movies, it was usually her. Now we’ve got Get Out and all that, so a lot more people get into horror. Before that, a lot of people weren’t as broley into horror. Me and her would always chop it up and watch horror movies, whether it was digitally sending each other the link or just talking generally about horror movies.

I was like, “Man, she’s always my go-to for this. This is great.” Then during the pandemic, we had that, I guess you could say two years or a year where everybody going through different stuff, everybody’s figuring stuff out. We had a little bit of that slowdown when it was kind of like you just stay in the house. Then after that two weeks slowdown, we still had a bit of a slowdown. I was like, “Man, I kind want to do something. I want to do something that’s fairly positive, but also enjoyable and doesn’t really feel like a job, but it is something I could have fun with.”

I listened to a lot of podcasts. I was like I guess I could do a podcast, but what would I want to do it about? I didn’t want to do it generally. I wanted to be very specific about what I talk about. Horror just popped in my head. I was like, sure, why not? I love horror. Let me see if there are any podcasts out there to talk about horror. There were a few and I was like, okay, cool. There’s a little bit of market for this. Let me have some fun with this. I want to do it with a co-host, I don’t want to do it by myself. Then Jackie came to mind. I reached out to her. I was like, “Hey. I have an idea for a horror podcast. Do you want to do it? If you don’t do it, I probably won’t do it.” Then she was like, “Okay. I’ll think about it. You know what? Yeah, sure. Why not? Let’s do it.”

Then we kind of jumped in. We have a horror podcast. We talk about movies, we talk about TV shows, we do topics. We started doing kind of more autobiography type episodes where we highlight your figure and talk about their relationship with horror. Yeah. We do everything horror. It’s really, really fun, man. To go back to that whole community thing, there’s a really big horror community everywhere, honestly, but definitely on Instagram as well. We found some really interesting people on there. We’ve brought people on as guests from all different walks of life. I had people from London who came on, people from Texas, people from just all over. They were just like, “Hey, man. If you ever in town, let us know we’ll hang.”

Just kind of an extension of the stuff I was doing when I was in high school with Xanga, but now I’m doing it not to pick out women, but to meet new people who also like horror. It came full circle.

Maurice Cherry:
What has podcasting as a medium taught you? Has it taught you anything that you kind of take back with you in your work as an art director?

Kendell Burton:
It taught me to be clearer with my thoughts. Not even just as art director, as a human being, it is sometimes hard to clarify your thoughts. You have so many of them going through your head, especially at once, even before someone probably even asks you a question. Just someone can say a statement, you have a hundred things running through your head. I’m really big on trying to be clear about what I’m saying when I say something. That is probably one of the biggest things I try to be hard on myself about. When I say something, do I mean what I’m saying and is it clear what I mean what I’m saying? I don’t want to misinterpret or mislead someone. I’m sure that’s in part because of a lot of the fake news stuff going around in the world and fake thoughts and fake opinions that people have about stuff. I try to be very clear on my thoughts.

The podcast has been a huge help for that, because we end up talking about horror movies. We always say the podcast is for people who horror movies and even for people who don’t horror movies, whether it’s you don’t want to watch them or you’re too scared to watch them. The podcast is for those people as well because it’s not that we spend a bunch of time talking about the guts and people being ripped in half. We spend time talking about how the characters feel and how the characters are relatable and how there’s a scene and the themes and the socioeconomical version of this stuff, the race. All of these things that make these movies, these movies that people go, “Oh. That’s [inaudible 00:58:47] culture.” No, all of these things were written and baked into the film for a reason. We’re not making this up.

We spend time talking about all of that. It forces me to get clearer about what I’m saying because I’d never want to say something and people would just go, “That person’s being crazy,” or, “That person’s making stuff up,” or, “That person’s being hateful,” or, “That person’s being ridiculous.” I try to be very clear in my thoughts and it translates to my job a lot because often as the art director, even the designer, you have to just explain your decision making. Even if you wow somebody with a design, the person still probably wants to know the logic behind it because [inaudible 00:59:25] the design is nice, but if it’s not on brief and it’s not hitting the goal, not hitting the mark, it just looks good and that doesn’t help anymore.

Maurice Cherry:
What would you say is your favorite contemporary horror movie?

Kendell Burton:
Of the past few years? Something recent?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I’d even go say the past decade or so.

Kendell Burton:
Actually, no, I’m going to just go with something fairly recent that I really enjoyed. There was this horror movie that came out recently called Pearl that I thought was really the great. I saw it in theaters three times.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, I think I saw a trailer to that movie. I think the setting is in the twenties or something. Is this the movie I’m thinking of? I don’t know.

Kendell Burton:
Kind of, yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
I think the lady that’s in it is Mia Goth, I think.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah, Mia Goth. It’s set around I think a time of World War II.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay. Okay. Okay. Yeah. She’s like an actress or something, right? You can tell I watch a lot of movies.

Kendell Burton:
[inaudible 01:00:20] you only saw the trailer then I can understand why you wouldn’t know what it is. She’s a farm girl in a lot of ways. Her family grew up on a farm. They’re German, so they in some ways fled from Germany during a war and all of that stuff. She just wants to get off this farm. She has aspirations of being a star, whether it’s a singer or actor, she has these aspirations. She grew up on a farm. The way her life is going there’s probably no chance that she’ll see those aspirations come to life.

Maurice Cherry:
Interesting.

Kendell Burton:
The thing that makes it interesting is the style of it. I tell people it’s The Wizard of Oz of it was a slasher because it’s not styled like a dark and grim horror movie. It’s styled very beautifully with bright colors and mostly during the day, similarly to Midsommar. It’s styled really interesting, which kind of in some ways is a reflection of how the main character sees the world. I could talk about it all day. It’s very interesting stylistically how they did the movie versus what the messages of the movie are and the themes that are super relatable about identity and self and all that stuff. It’s like it’s a really, really well done movie.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice. It’s clear that horror is certainly a big thing for you. It’s something that you really love. What are some other influences for your creative work? Is it any people in particular? Any things in particular?

Kendell Burton:
I wouldn’t say a specific person or anything like that. Just like when I was a kid, I’m a fan of stuff. I love science fiction. I love action movies. I love every genre of everything. I try to take pieces of that with everything I do. Just how I tell stories, how stories are told, how I design. I try to take all of these things into account when I’m working. I wouldn’t say I’m inspired by any specific visual style or specific person. Honestly, life just inspires me. Life inspires me. The people I get to have conversations with, the people I meet, the characters I see in movies and TV shows, all of those things inspire me. I’m not inspired by any specific graphic designer. I’m sure there are better designers than me in the world, but I’m not heavily inspired by super great graphic designers. I’m inspired by super great storytellers and super great stories that I’ve seen unfold that feel very human, they feel very grounded.

Maurice Cherry:
At this stage of your career, do you feel creatively satisfied?

Kendell Burton:
Surprisingly, yes.

Maurice Cherry:
Why surprisingly?

Kendell Burton:
I say surprisingly because, man, you would expect the corporate world to kind of beat you down. There’s always that tragic story of the artists of they got in it because they love it and then somewhere along the way money got involved and they hate it. I could see that very easily happening in this field as well to people. Trying to fill a lot of bellies, [inaudible 01:03:03] task of a designer or honestly even any world you have in this field. You’re trying to fill a lot of stomachs, man. Whether it’s account people, the clients, strategy, yourself, creative. There’s a lot of people that have go to get fed before an idea goes out into the world and actually exist.

There’s a lot of battles that people have to fight for their work to be seen by the general public. You would think with all of those challenges in front of you that some people end up hating this, but I actually surprisingly still enjoy it. I do enjoy these conversations. I enjoy the people that I work with. I enjoy the people that I’ve worked with in the past, whether we had disagreements or not, because I’ve learned something from them, whether it was about myself or about them. Honestly, if it was just about myself, how do I handle a situation? How do I handle moments where things feel like it’s too tough and they feel impossible? How do I handle moments where I spent a lot of time on a design and then someone goes, “Let’s just change the whole thing.” How do I handle that? How do I bounce back from that?

It’s been satisfying, man, how I’m bouncing back for these things and how I learn from them and how I get better from project to project. It’s been very satisfying.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, when I had you back on the show again, this was 10 years ago, I asked you where do you see yourself in the next five years? You had mentioned that you wanted to create a product that you can build a company around. Granted, since then you’ve worked for agencies and such, but at this stage of where you’re at now with your career, where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Kendell Burton:
Oh, man. That’s a good question. I forgot I told you about that. That was back when I was working on this bike app idea that I had. I still have that somewhere. I think in the next five years, man, I feel like I still see myself doing this. Maybe my title will probably go up, but I still see myself doing design or possibly even still pharma, but I’ll see. I still see myself just enjoying this field, man. I’m not tied to any specific industry in terms of which one I [inaudible 01:05:01] or not. I just really enjoy what I do. It’s a good time. You get to meet interesting people and they get to tell you interesting stories. You get to live a pretty interesting life when you make it in there.

I’m not flying to Dubai every week or something for photo shoots or anything like that. I’ve done very little of that in my career. The type of people you meet and the type of stories you get to hear people tell and that you get to tell yourself, from the projects you work on, it’s really interesting and priceless, man. I really enjoy it. I kind of just see myself still going down this road of in some ways where the winds takes me, but in some other ways, I’m just enjoying this space.

Maurice Cherry:
Well, just to wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more information about you, about your work and everything? Where can they find you online?

Kendell Burton:
You could add me on LinkedIn. You can look me up, my name, Kendell Burton. It should be in a show notes and everything. You could add me on LinkedIn, feel free too. You could follow me on Twitter if you like. Honestly, on Twitter, I don’t really talk about the field much. I just kind of enjoy the craziness of Twitter. Enjoy the memes and the wild stuff people say on Twitter. That’s pretty much what I’m doing on there. I guess if you want to laugh along with me about the crazy stuff that happens on Twitter, then feel free to follow me there. My name is theKendellB.

That’s my name on most things. You can find me on Instagram, same way, where you can follow my podcast, which is exclusively on Instagram. I just don’t want it bounced between a million platforms. The podcast TerrorNova is only on Instagram, but you can listen everywhere. It’s on Spotify and all that stuff. Yeah. So LinkedIn or Twitter, or Instagram. Those three places, best places to find me.

Maurice Cherry:
All right. Sounds good. Well, Kendell Burton, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you for, I think, honestly for just showcasing how much your enthusiasm and passion for what you do. To me, it just sort of permeates through everything you talk about, your life story, your story of working through the industry and things like that. I can tell that you really have this innate, deep, burning passion for it. That’s something that I think we all need to kind of work to try to cultivate, find what it is that sort of lights your pilot light.

I get the sense from you that really this is something that you’re super passionate about. I’m excited to see what you end up doing next, man. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Kendell Burton:
Yeah. I appreciate it, man. I appreciate the invitation to come here and talk to you again, man. It’s a pleasure. It’s great. For everyone listening, man, just find what you like, man. Find what you like and just strap yourself to it, the best way you can, because you’ve got to enjoy life.

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