Katrina Lenzly

I had such a blast chopping it up with the extremely talented Katrina Lenzly. Not only is she an award-winning art director who has done incredible creative work for big brands such as HBO, the NBA, and The Coca-Cola Company, but she’s also a public speaker, and a neo-soul hip-hop artist known as King Cooley. (And I thought I did a lot!) We had an incredibly deep and candid conversation about Black cultural expression, being a working designer, and a lot more.

Katrina talked about growing up on the southside of Atlanta, and shared how she made her way to Savannah College of Art and Design and eventually found her design voice in an unlikely place — a skate shop! We also talked about the realities of advocating for Black-centric narratives and DEI initiatives in the design space, the ebb and flow of support for Black creatives after the summer of 2020, and the power of intention.

This interview with Katrina was really a full-circle moment for both of us, so I hope this conversation inspires you to forge your own path in your creative career!

Sponsored by Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit is a strategy and design firm committed to designing a more inclusive and equitable world. They are always looking to expand their roster of freelance design consultants in the U.S., particularly brand strategists, copywriters, graphic designers and Web developers.

If you know how to deliver excellent creative work reliably, and enjoy the autonomy of a virtual-based, freelance life (with no non-competes), check them out at brevityandwit.com.

Sponsored by School of Visual Arts

The BFA Design program at the School of Visual Arts consistently produces innovative and acclaimed work that is rooted in a strong foundational understanding of visual communication. It encourages creativity through cutting-edge tools, visionary design techniques, and offers burgeoning creatives a space to find their voice.

Students in BFA Advertising are prepared for success in the dynamic advertising industry in a program led by faculty from New York’s top ad agencies. Situated at the center of the advertising capital of the world, the program inspires the next generation of creative thinkers and elite professionals to design the future.

School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers and creative professionals for over seven decades. Comprising 7,000 students at its Manhattan campus and more than 41,000 alumni from 128 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College’s 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, visit sva.edu.

Sam Bass

If you’ve been thinking about striking out on our own as a new year’s resolution, then this week’s episode might be a good one to check out as I speak with freelance animator and art director Sam Bass. Sam is a creative problem solver at heart, and for the past ten years, he’s worked on illustrative images and animating unique graphics with silky smooth results.

Sam talked about his work and delved deep into his creative process, including some of the unique challenges of sustaining a freelance career. He also spoke about growing up in the DMV area, his time at ICF before moving to Atlanta, and gave a sneak peek into his latest project — a short film called “The Exchange.”

Big thanks to Ricardo Roberts of BIEN for the introduction!

Sponsored by Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit

Brevity & Wit is a strategy and design firm committed to designing a more inclusive and equitable world. They are always looking to expand their roster of freelance design consultants in the U.S., particularly brand strategists, copywriters, graphic designers and Web developers.

If you know how to deliver excellent creative work reliably, and enjoy the autonomy of a virtual-based, freelance life (with no non-competes), check them out at brevityandwit.com.

Sponsored by School of Visual Arts

The BFA Design program at the School of Visual Arts consistently produces innovative and acclaimed work that is rooted in a strong foundational understanding of visual communication. It encourages creativity through cutting-edge tools, visionary design techniques, and offers burgeoning creatives a space to find their voice.

Students in BFA Advertising are prepared for success in the dynamic advertising industry in a program led by faculty from New York’s top ad agencies. Situated at the center of the advertising capital of the world, the program inspires the next generation of creative thinkers and elite professionals to design the future.

School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers and creative professionals for over seven decades. Comprising 7,000 students at its Manhattan campus and more than 41,000 alumni from 128 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College’s 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, visit sva.edu.

David Perrin

How are you using your creative talents to create a more equitable world. For David Perrin, his focus is on the world of nonprofit design. By day, David is the design lead at The Ford Foundation, and he works with an in-house team of editors, copywriters, strategists, designers, and developers. Outside of work, he’s an instructor with Social Movement Technologies, a nonprofit organization that provides strategy, training and campaign support to build people power and win in the digital age.

David gave me a breakdown about The Ford Foundation and what it does, and also provided a sneak peek at the variety of work the Foundation handles. We also talked about what fueled his background and his career transition into social justice, along with the challenges and opportunities it presents. David’s story is one of determination, self-reflection, and the power of using design as a powerful tool for change. Get ready to be inspired!

Interview Transcript

Maurice Cherry:

All right. So tell us who you are and what you do.

David Perrin:

So, my name is David Perrin. I’m an art director, graphic designer, and illustrator. I use photo collage as my current graphic style to help kind of portray complex issues pertaining to social justice politics. You know, in my off time…Black joy and Black culture.

Maurice Cherry:

How has your 2023 been going so far?

David Perrin:

It’s been going great! Busy. Done a lot of traveling. Soul searching. Got into grad school, started grad school right now, so currently in that…and yeah, just really gearing up for the fall. Just kind of heads down, I think, for the first half of the year. Took a lot of trips to go see friends and family and everything, and now I’m like kind of just hitting the ground running. So it’s been a busy year so far.

Maurice Cherry:

Well, congratulations on grad school!

David Perrin:

Thank you.

Maurice Cherry:

Where are you going?

David Perrin:

So I’m currently at Baruch [College] studying arts administration. So getting a master’s in that. I’m super excited. It’s really going to help me bolster my leadership skills in the nonprofit space, specifically around art. And kind of on the back end of this, I do want to get into teaching and being a professor. I really love the work that I do, and I think it’s just going to just give me a stronger foundation moving forward.

Maurice Cherry:

Nice. So I saw that you recently illustrated a children’s book. Tell me about that.

David Perrin:

Yes. “Amadou Goes To School.” So a friend of mine is Senegalese. He pitched the story to me a couple of years ago. At the time, the only person he knew that he would want to illustrate this book. And so the book primarily is about his experience, really through this character Amadou, and what the first days of school might look like with just dealing with just different cultures and just finding common ground and where people can kind of — or children, right? — can kind of see eye-to-eye on things and really just come together through that unfamiliar process of getting to know one another and stuff. So we’ve gotten a lot of just very just positive energy around the book. We’re working on a second right now. We’re hoping to make it a series.

This has definitely pulled me out of my comfort zone. I think, the last couple of years, I’m kind of undoing a lot of years of slight impostor syndrome and wanting to get into new spaces and things. And so slowly peeling back those layers and stuff. So this is definitely a project of love. Yeah. I really appreciate my boy Jonima Diaby who’s the writer on it. We’re heads down, trying to figure out what the game plan is. We want to do more readings in schools and get this out, you know, as the school year is kind of, I think, jump starting right now, as a matter of fact. Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:

Was this your first children’s book?

David Perrin:

Yes, first children’s book. All original characters, content, all the things. Been drawing since I was in first grade, but to kind of do it in this platform…yeah, it was a little, like, nerve wracking. Finally, I think we released it last year, fall, and so, yeah, we’re gearing up, like I said, for the second book. So, yeah, just super excited to have it out there. And every now and then, I get a ping from a friend who just had a kid and they’re reading the book to their child, that type of thing. So I’m just happy it’s making the rounds. And like I said, I’m being able to touch my community in this way and…yeah, more to come.

Maurice Cherry:

Nice, looking forward to that. So you’re currently the design lead at The Ford Foundation. That’s pretty epic. Talk to me about that.

David Perrin:

Yeah, so I’m currently the design lead at The Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation is a global philanthropic institution centered around the mission of social justice at its core with the goal of expanding equitable experiences for all. The organization is global. We have eleven different offices. We cover a lot of ground and a lot of work. And so it’s really exciting, simply put, just because of all the different bodies of work that we contribute to. As a designer, I feel like I’m kind of a kid in a candy store, if you will. Being able to work on all these different topics, to be able to work on so many different types of bodies of work is really cool. And again, to add a bonus of us being global and working with the different regions as well and seeing how the work touches just different parts of the world is also pretty awesome.

Maurice Cherry:

I want to go a little deeper on what you do, like your day to day. I realized when I just asked that question before, I was like, that was real open ended. “You work for the Ford Foundation. Tell me about it.” I just realized as I said it, but what does a typical day look like? Are you in office? You’re working remotely? Do you have an in house team? What does that structure look like?

David Perrin:

Yeah, so we have an in-house team. So currently our team consists of so we have a creative team and we’re on a broader communications team, right? So the creative team consists of two editors, two writers, copywriters, if you will, and then two designers. And then our broader team consists of strategists and web development folks. So we’ve got a pretty robust team, I think around like 24 folks. So that’s our team as a whole.

The work? Yeah, it’s pretty vast. We have a lot of grantees, so we do grantee profiles where we reach out to our grantees, bolster up some of the work that they’re doing on their end, create these grantee profiles, which then kind of get condensed into maybe a blog format or social media. We’re here in New York, so sometimes our program officers will make regional visits to some of the regional offices and vice versa. So constantly creating content around those visits and kind of like information exchanged. We have a video series. We get into video a lot. Events. The Ford Foundation, as a building, as an entity, houses a lot of events throughout the year. We also have a gallery where we do gallery showings. I think we have one on AI that premiered a couple of weeks ago.

But yeah, we support everybody. Our small team, we have a group of fellows on constant rotation of fellowships that kind of happen throughout the organization. A small bite-sized list of things that we could be working on, you know, on a day to day [basis].

Maurice Cherry:

So it doesn’t sound like there is at any point in time, like a lack of work, because it feels like there’s always going to be something coming in, whether that’s, like you said, new grantee profiles or maybe that’s seasonal type campaigns or things that you’re doing. It sounds like it’s just a constant stream of work.

David Perrin:

Yeah, our grantees are moving and grooving. They’re constantly giving us things to put out into the space, and again, to bolster up. And yeah, the organization is constantly going through these different rotations. Folks coming in and out, fellows coming in and out. I mean, I will say the summers kind of are like a safe period where folks…we try to give ourselves some time off, right? So we’re trying to create some work/life balance there.

Like I was saying earlier, in the fall, yeah, it kind of heads down. Right. So right now we just have a lot of things going in constant rotation. But the summers, we try to keep it a little open ended for folks to take off.

Maurice Cherry:

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s good to mention that because a couple of weeks ago I had Vasheena Brisbane on the show. She is…I’m going to butcher her title, but she’s like the director of communications for Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York.

David Perrin:

Got it.

Maurice Cherry:

Which is a pretty big church, pretty well-known church. And we sort of talked about kind of like how when you’re doing the type of design that maybe not is, I don’t know, product-based or software-based or things like that, sometimes it gets overlooked and sometimes it has like a stigma to it.

I’ve had designers on the show. I mean, I’m a designer myself, where there can sometimes be a stigma against church work or nonprofit work or things like that because it’s not as, I don’t know, glossy and sexy as like, advertising or software or anything like that. So I think it’s good to note that there’s just a variety of design work that you do with The Ford Foundation and that it’s all kind of pretty encompassing a lot of different types of media.

David Perrin:

Absolutely. For example, we have a 60th anniversary of our East Africa office happening pretty soon, and I’m making a stage design for them. Some of these are firsts for me; wayfinding stuff, banners that kind of take up full columns of buildings and things. Yes, to nonprofit work and some of this stuff feeling, tone wise, really, I guess to your point, maybe not as sexy as advertising or some branding studios and stuff like that, but still get the work done. And we should be held to the same standard as everybody else, I believe.

Maurice Cherry:

Right? I mean, you get the work in and it’s a variety of work. I mean, I think sometimes if you’re working with a company, particularly if you’re just a product designer, you’re kind of doing the same type of thing day in, day out, you don’t really have a chance to kind of stretch yourself creatively. And it sounds like even though you’re the lead and you have a team, there’s always going to be something new and different coming down the pike for you to work on.

David Perrin:

Absolutely. I mean, yeah, we try to keep it interesting too. We’re also trying to push ourselves with our grantee profiles. We want to do more original artwork, original photography…really meet our grantees where they’re at and bolster the work up to, like, a New York Times or The Atlantic. We are really striving for just a higher standard of design and design thinking and reimagining of what this work can look like. We just went through a brand redesign. Yeah, I think it embodies some of these newer ideas and trends in the design community. So I think great design is accessible. Just because it’s nonprofit doesn’t mean “doesn’t have to be stale, doesn’t have to be all these things.” It could really be as energizing and exciting as anything that we see out in the private sector.

Maurice Cherry:

What’s the most challenging part about your work?

David Perrin:

I guess even going back to my days at Dēmos, sometimes visualizing some of this work because it’s so nuanced, right? I’m thinking on when I was working at Dēmos, this racial justice think tank, right? Like coming up with visuals for ending the filibuster, right? Like, what does that look like? It’s not a very tangible thing. You can’t just throw that into Google and a bunch of images are going to pop up. And so, yeah, for some of these more nuanced, more sensitive topics, right? The Supreme Court ruling on abortion, what does that look like? That creates an approachable tone, right? It’s so sensitive. What does that look like? What’s the tone that we want to strike with that? We deal in some pretty heavy topics. And so I think that’s always a difficulty in trying to establish a tone of empowerment, but also making clear what’s at stake and what’s actually happening in the space without being, I guess, disruptive or disrespectful. We do want to respect all the imagery and our grantees and the people involved. These are real issues, and so there’s a lot of sensitivities around that and we want to just be mindful as much as possible creating a message, but also, again, just really thinking on the communities involved in the work. So, yeah, sometimes there’s not always a balance. And so it’s tricky sometimes coming up with how to really set that tone and make sure everybody is fully represented in the right way.

Maurice Cherry:

And I would imagine aside from that, because you’re dealing with different cultures, you’re dealing with different just…topics and mores and things like that. So you’re always having to sort of strike that balance between, of course, something that’s going to be visually and aesthetically pleasing, but then also is going to work for the context that it’s being used. Like, for example, you mentioned doing this conference in East Africa. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t style that, like, you would do maybe an event in Silicon Valley. Like, it would just be a different type of thing, I would imagine.

David Perrin:

Absolutely. And to that point, and I’ll probably touch on this a little bit later, but yeah, bringing folks in, getting the right feedback. We’re very much in touch with the folks in that regional office, and they sent us, like, a mood board, right, to kind of help guide us on some principles and some rules of the road, right? Some things that they wanted to stay away from, as far as stereotypes, and I’m very appreciative of that. I want everybody, people that we are speaking behalf of trying to grantees, who are trying to bolster communities, all that to really come to the table, right? And really help us, guide us as designers and visionaries, so that we’re not misrepresenting the work at any point. It’s a fine line, but always, always here to hear from folks, like, what they want to see in the visuals, and what’s empowering and what makes sense to the work.

Maurice Cherry:

Now, along with the work that you’re doing at the Ford Foundation, you also teach you’re an instructor with Social Movement Technologies. How did you find out about them?

David Perrin:

At my time at Dēmos, I was still trying to get a handle on what organizing work looked like and felt like. And so my director at the time, I guess Smt, had kind of fallen into her inbox. She encouraged me to take the they had a Certificate course right on basically design tools for graphic designers in the organizing space. Right. I took the course. I learned a lot, met up with a lot of great designers, and just kind of got to hear the stories and just kind of be alongside of other organizers and grassroots folks, researchers, people who aren’t designers, that just wanted to learn and to help their organizations out in any capacity, in the design capacity and everything. So, yeah, it was just a really good learning experience overall. And so after the program, the head of the program reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be an instructor, and I jumped at the opportunity. I haven’t turned back. And so, yeah, I feel fortunate to be in a space again, to be on the other side and to kind of help usher in just this next class of folks year after year. It’s been very rewarding, for sure.

Maurice Cherry:

What sort of topics are you teaching?

David Perrin:

We’re starting from the ground up, right? So just teaching like, basic typography, color palette, mood boarding, brand guides, visual tone with photography, sourcing animation, illustration, whatever. We can kind of really pack in during the time that we have. We really try to pack it in. And yeah, we’ve created a pretty decent formula as far as pace goes. But yeah, we really just try to give people the building blocks on what to really think about when thinking about brand and how to start. Right. So really, like I said, from the ground up. And putting this against folks are limited resources too, and giving them a lot of open source material that they could use to kind of just get started. Like Photoshop. Adobe sometimes can be a little inaccessible, can be a little daunting, right? So we really just try to meet people where they’re at and help bolster their skills so that they feel more confident talking about visual identity and what to really think about when it comes to strategy for the organizations.

Maurice Cherry:

How do you sort of balance this teaching work along with your 9-to-5 work? Because it sounds like The Ford Foundation work is already a lot to do.

David Perrin:

It is. Full transparency, right? Like a couple of years ago, I was on the more teaching end of this and now I’m more of supportive…more of like a supportive role, looking at students’ work and being able to kind of guide them on next steps and things. So more of like a small group kind of feedback session type of thing. And I try to do my best to really prepare folks as far as next steps and help them again, just try to meet them where they’re at, whatever the desired needs are at the time.

Maurice Cherry:

Now let’s kind of, you know, change it up here a little bit. We’ve talked a lot about your work, you know, your teaching as well. I do want to ask more about Dēmos, but before we get to that, let’s learn more about you. I know you’re currently in Brooklyn, New York, but you grew up in Miami, is that right?

David Perrin:

Yes. So North Miami Beach, to be specific. But I have a kind of a very roundabout story.

My parents are both from Jamaica. I wasn’t actually even born in Florida, but that’s where I spent most of my time. So born in Texas, moved to North Miami Beach, where I think I did maybe, I don’t know, preschool to maybe the top of first grade. From there, moved to Michigan, spent a couple of years in Michigan, moved to North Carolina for a couple of years after that; each stop, like, averaging about three to four years, landing back in Florida, moving to the panhandle, going to the high school in the panhandle, going to college down in Fort Lauderdale. I spent some time in New York and all that. That mixture. And then finally moving to Brooklyn, where I’m at now. So that’s just a little bit of that journey.

My background as far as a creative kind of started in first grade, drawing dinosaurs and things. I was really involved with Jurassic Park and stuff. Then kind of moved on to Dragon Ball Z, anime, all that stuff. In high school, when I made it back where I made it to the panhandle, I went to a collegiate high school where I was basically taking collegiate classes with college students. There I was able to kind of dig in on artwork in a very specific way, right? So I’m doing live paintings and live drawings with models and sculpting, taking guitar lessons and all these things, kind of almost making up for some of these moves, right? I moved around a lot, so I wasn’t able to really hone in on the artistic side of me until I had a couple of years at this collegiate high school where I was able to kind of lean in, more specifically.

Graphic design really doesn’t start to take, I guess, even a role until I moved to Fort Lauderdale for college, where I’m studying accounting, of all things. And I was kind of doing that in the background. I was a part of a fraternity. I’m making flyers, diving in photoshop a little bit, but not that much. And then eventually after college, I worked in nonprofit worked on the nonprofit side in accounting for a little bit. I told my parents straight up after college because they’re Jamaican. So they’re like, “hey, you got to be a doctor, lawyer, business…something.” Like, you got to make it make sense type of thing. You know what I mean?

Yeah, I told them after a couple of years of doing the accounting thing, I just said “the arts.” I was like, I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I’m going to be in the arts. And so I think around the time of maybe my second year of working in accounting, my sisters were getting ready to go to SCAD. They had made the jump, right? So they went to UCF down in Orlando, and then they wanted to go to SCAD. And they kind of propelled me. I’m like, well, they get to go to art school. I’m the bigger brother. I’m like, I want to go to art school too.

So I start doing some research. SVA is high on that list. I decide kind of then and there, I’m moving out of state. I’m going to New York. I create this portfolio, like, to this day, it amazes me because, like I said, I don’t have the most artistic background. Like, I’m drawing, I’m dabbling, doing little things here and there. But yeah, I cobbled together this portfolio for them of these sketches here and there, and some of these Photoshop files and things that I made along the years, and they accepted me.

And so, yeah, right after the acceptance, a buddy of mine was heading up to New York. His parents were moving up there. I moved up there with him, and I started taking night classes, continuing it at the School of Visual Arts. So by day, I found an accounting job on the nonprofit side. Again, by night I’m at SBA taking classes and things to try to make ends meet. But also with this battery in my back of “I need to make it,” they were very upfront with me when I got to SVA. They were like, “hey, you have a cap. You have a financial cap, and so you have a limit as to how much government support you’re going to get.” I think I had my back up against the wall kind of going in, and so I felt like really, really had to make it. But I also knew that from early on that I wanted to get into social justice work or work that’s community based. The commercial thing really wasn’t clicking for me, even in my early inceptions of learning about graphic design and typography and all the things a lot to think about.

But that was kind of like the early beginnings of design for me and school and everything. Fast forward and I eventually make my way to Dēmos, where I’m working on all these issues pertaining to racial justice, voting rights, I’m blanking on climate change, all these different buckets of work, and then eventually make my way to Ford. That’s the long…that’s the abridged version, but yeah, here we are.

Maurice Cherry:

So I saw, you know, and that you kind of — I guess, I don’t know, maybe skipped over this a little bit — but we can talk about it. I mean, you freelanced a bit in 2015 and 2016. And then after that you were working — this is before Dēmos — you were working at AMC Networks as their lead graphic designer. How was that experience? Because this is before you sort of went into the nonprofit space with Dēmos and now Ford. What was it like at AMC?

David Perrin:

Early beginnings was cool. I get to work for a big brand, right, and I finally get brand recognition. Brand recognition is such a big thing in the design community. It’s really like who you work for. If you don’t work for a big brand or something, it’s like your social capital is really low. You know what I mean? So I felt I got to kind of finally step into that a bit. And so, yeah, early stages of that job was really cool. But things started to kind of turn for me around, I think, like 2016, a little before 2016, just seeing how the politics kind of permeated through the workspace.

Early start’s great, met a lot of great folks, learned a lot. Working with a big organization of that size being able to kind of dabble in between different channels and meet people from different teams and things. It’s a full on learning experience. But like I said, toward the end, I had to make a change for my own moral benefit.

Maurice Cherry:

Yeah, I figured when you said “it was cool”…that sounded a little bit loaded. I was like, okay. I think sometimes you have those experiences where you hope it’s going to be one way and then they’re kind of just throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you, especially if it’s at a place like you said, that has that name recognition.

I can say this now because I don’t work there anymore, but back when I worked at Fog Creek Software, which later became Glitch, Glitch was sort of known, I think in the 2018 to 2020 space, as being like this really progressive software company that’s sort of doing these things. But internally? Whoooo! I mean, I had several different titles. I even had personal slights with management. And then I became management and then they didn’t want to train me as a manager. There was like a lot of stuff that happened. I mean, I don’t want to go too much into it, but I mean, also, I’m not a big fan of really trashing places where I used to work. I mean, it’s in the past, like move past it, but I know what you mean because sometimes that name recognition does mean a lot. I mean, it’s something that I think now people are even finding out, especially if they’ve been laid off in the past year from a company that used to have better reputation. Yes, I’m talking about Twitter. They might be finding it a little difficult, I would say probably in the market to maybe get placed somewhere because that name now has I mean, despite the work that they might have done there, the platform is almost in the dirt at this point. So, I don’t know.

It’s a tricky thing, I think, for designers, especially with career mobility and trying to make sure that you’re doing work that is important, that means something to you, but then also unfortunately means something to other people once you get out in the job market again.

David Perrin:

Absolutely.

Maurice Cherry:

It sucks. It absolutely sucks. I just want to put that on the record. It sucks.

So after your AMC experience, you start at Dēmos. How did you find out about them? I mean, I’m sure you probably knew about it just in terms of general consciousness, but that’s a big shift from something like AMC to nonprofit.

David Perrin:

I think at some point, like I said, 2016, it’s like I made a pledge to myself, right? I was just like trying to manifest it was before I even knew what social justice meant. Organizing. My view of that space was still tied to places like the NAACP. I did the NAACP Youth Council growing up. And so I’m thinking, “man, I can’t get a job in this. Like a design job.”

Maurice Cherry:

Yeah.

David Perrin:

My view is just so small, and so I’m applying around. I’m on these job boards. I applied to Dēmos twice, right? They took a while to get back to me. I think just because of internal processes and things like that manifest. I manifested it, it happened, and I ended up there. Everything else in between, I have no idea. So I really thank my lucky stars on that one. Trying to listen to a kid like me in my pitch to get into the space because, yeah, none of my work really reflected that. I’m coming off of entertainment, right? So how does this translate into that type of thing? So happy that they took a shot on me.

Maurice Cherry:

And, I mean, it sounds like it really paid off just for you in terms of solidifying yourself in this particular realm, because now you’re at The Ford Foundation. So clearly your experience at Dēmos must have been pretty transformative.

David Perrin:

Me being the lead, the only designer on the team, I got to experiment. Shout out to my director at the time. She really let me spread my wings on what was possible kind of under the organization. We just got a new president. We just redesigned the website. I kind of used that as, like, a proxy to pull new fonts and new colors into the new body of work. I used that kind of like the template to create what our reports would look like moving forward and what art might look like on the site. I kind of just hit the ground running. Folks just let me know they saw one collage. They were like, “oh, this really resonates. Let’s do this again.” And it was just kind of like rinse, wash, and repeat. And I felt like a lot of the stories that we were telling, the organizations that we were uplifting, the communities that we were talking about, really internally, for me, really embodied the work that I wanted to be doing. So I was really appreciative for just having so much floor to experiment, just really build up this tool of collaging and talking about the work in a way that I feel kind of brings people to the table.

Dēmos can be wonky at times in how they put out their reports, right? They crank out these lengthy 10-page, 15-page reports and things. But, yeah, you want to bring folks into the room and bring it to the table and everything. So I felt I was able to do that with what was them and just rich copy. I mean, we’re talking about really good research that’s done, so things based, in fact, organizations based in reality. And so, yeah, it just kind of gave me a firm leg to stand on. But I did at times miss kind of the allure of an AMC or a bigger brand, right? I feel like I’m working on all these things for an organization that maybe didn’t have the biggest digital footprint out in the space, in the nonprofit space, in the organizing space, think tank space, they are pillars. But outside of that, it’s kind of like (sighs). But love the work, though, nonetheless.

Maurice Cherry:

And a lot of your design work has this basis in social issues, which it sounds like is definitely something that’s really important to you. You mentioned 2016 being sort of this nexus point for you. Why do we need more designers in the social justice space?

David Perrin:

Well, because of the work. The work is we are talking about communities that are on the margins, right? We need folks that represent those communities in this space because I think the work presents itself very differently. You know what I mean? And so, yeah, when you’re not attached to these communities, I think you’re detached in a way. And yeah, I feel like these opportunities should be given to the folks that, again, are from these spaces, that are speaking to these spaces.

Sometimes that’s often not the case. Some of these jobs are low paying. I’m also going to advocate for more pay for nonprofit designers. I’m also going to ask for more of a leadership track or a track to leadership in the design space on the nonprofit side. Yeah, designers are kind of left out these conversations, right? And we’re such a big and pivotal part of the work and how it’s represented outside of the organization and into these spaces. Using Dēmos as an example, we’re making work to put in the hands of policymakers. So like, it’s transformative, right? You’ve got the right policy into the right policymakers hands. I mean, you know, government is slow, but you just don’t know what can happen putting these things in the right hands and stuff. So really important work across the board.

I do want to see more BIPOC designers like instance in the space and also being able to maintain a life in this space. I don’t think it’s temporary, right? Like, we love this work just as much as everybody else. We definitely should have more of a space to live a sustainable life, to create this work over time, you know what I mean? I should be able to retire, working on the nonprofit side, that type of thing. And everybody else should too. Making a huge push for that, for the grant makers, the foundations, policymakers, whatever, for them to really create that budget line item when you’re creating those grants, like, really try to build out more of a creative team. I’m advocating for designers, but more creatives that exist in the space. There’s a lot of people that want to do a lot of great work again, [they] deserve to make a living.

Maurice Cherry:

Yeah. And to your point, they deserve to retire too.

David Perrin:

Absolutely. 1000%. Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:

I had Cheryl Miller back on the show for episode 500. And I remember…I think we might have said it in the interview, but we definitely talked about it afterwards about how there’s no retirement plan for designers. And I was like, well, I kind of get what she was saying, but I think in the grand scheme of, like, if you’re a designer today, unless you work for, I don’t know, maybe like a big tech company or something like that, you kind of end up going from job to job. Like, the life and career of a designer is not as structured as, say, a doctor or a lawyer or something like that, or even something more blue collar, like an accountant or something like that, where you could be somewhere for X number of years. I mean, I think just in our lifetime job security, to be somewhere for four or five years is admirable. Whereas my mom was at the same job from like ’74 to 2016. It was an easy thing. And she worked in STEM, she worked in biology. But we were talking about how there’s no retirement plan for designers, which really got me to thinking, what would it look like to retire? Would I just have to keep working and doing gigs until I’m dead? Or what does that look like? Which is morbid, but a reality. Especially like…I’m in my 40s, so it’s a reality.

David Perrin:

Yeah. These are the things that I’m also thinking about, right? Longevity in design, resilience in design. And yeah, I want to figure out what the answer to that is sooner than later. It’s not a magical thing. It’s a process that should also be, again, rewarded with stability at the end of the day, just like everybody else.

Maurice Cherry:

Absolutely. What keeps you motivated and inspired with your work?

David Perrin:

I mentioned the Master’s program earlier. I really want to teach. I really want to teach BIPOC students what this world looks like, the possibilities of a designer. Try to, again, just build a bigger, broader community of future thinkers. And so, yeah, I’m really just, primarily, I want to do this for this next generation coming about. I feel like my design journey? Happenstance, right? I mean, a lot of work, right? A lot of grinding, all these things. But, man, I would have loved to have even this book — “The Black Experience in Design” — I would have loved to have this at 16 or like an earlier age. Who knows what life would have looked like for me if I had just a couple more years? Just being able to get a better grasp of what design is, the possibilities. That’s what keeps me up at night and wanting to really get to that space and just social justice in general.

2020, 2016, like the pandemic, like these inflection points, it really shook up democracy in a way to where you could, you know, scratching your head. Like, what does democracy even mean? What does liberation even mean in this country, specifically and abroad? Yeah. And what does that look like from a design standpoint? What are we going to do to kind of help maintain the steady rhythm of just organizing and getting people together. These are the things that I think about is what does the future look like for this space? How do we contribute to it? How do we keep it fresh? How do we keep feeding it and keeping it energizing and inclusive and bringing more people to the table and bringing them in? That’s why I’m calling for more nonprofit designers to come into this space and share their expertise from all different points of life, because we need it. There’s a lot of noise out there, politically and everything. And yeah, we definitely need the support.

Maurice Cherry:

Do you have, like, a dream project that you’d love to do one day? It could either be through The Ford Foundation, it could be a personal project…anything like that.

David Perrin:

Yeah. So through this medium of collage, I want to do murals. I see a lot of vector art murals, painted graffiti, all these things. I think of…I think his name is, like, JR. Artist. When I first came to New York, he had a lot of just big murals, right. With his collage work and everything. And so, yeah, we have a piece at The Ford Foundation. So that’s been a dream of mine, is like yeah, to be able to do a big collage piece on, you know, one of these walls in the area. So I’m constantly driving around and being like, “man, like, a mural would look really good here.” That type of thing. Also just more editorial work in general. I’d love to see my work in [The New York] Times or The Atlantic, that type of thing. So I’m kind of moving and grooving about. Yeah, I want to be able to kind of be on everybody’s radar and be able to tell those stories for those publications and murals and things like that.

Maurice Cherry:

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Do you think it’ll be doing that kind of work?

David Perrin:

Absolutely. Yeah. I want to have a couple more of these Amadou books under my belt. We do want to make this a series. Yeah. Some murals and eventually, like, teaching. Like I said, I want to be at a school, ushering in that new generation of thinkers, communicators, and mentorship. I really want to give this stuff back to my community in a way that feels impactful and meaningful, and I want folks to come back around and ask me questions. I want to be the design elder. I’m putting that on myself, that type of thing. Anything I can do to just build my community up in the ways that I think are going to be positive moving forward in the realms of design, artwork, that sort of thing.

Maurice Cherry:

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

David Perrin:

So I am on Instagram under my artist’s name, @dpicting, right? So my name is David Perrin. So DP, right? So D-P-I-C-T-I-N-G. So using my first initials. And then I-C-T-I-N-G. So that’s @dpicting on Instagram. I’m online at dpictingstudio.com. Also dpicting.com on the website. Yeah, I’m working on want to get an exhibition out there of my artwork. I’m working on After Effects as well, trying to create more moving collages and things like that. So that’s a slow and steady process. So that’s going to be coming. So show coming soon. Yeah, you can find all the updates and things on Instagram, on LinkedIn as well. I’m on LinkedIn. David Perrin. That’s where I’m at. Right.

Maurice Cherry:

Sounds good. David Perrin, I want to thank you so, so much for coming on the show. First of all, I just love the work that you’re doing at The Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation already does so much great in the world, so much philanthropic work. And when I was doing my research and I was like, “wait a minute there’s a brother that’s leading all this.” That’s when I was like, I had to get you on the show to sort of talk about that. I mean, I think it was one thing, of course, it was great for you to talk about your history with working and doing design with social justice issues, but also kind of, I think, giving folks the opportunity to see that you can switch career paths and stay true to yourself. Certainly you sort of started out, like you said, doing this accounting work, and then you kind of wanted to work at a design place that had a big name. And then 2016 happened, which I think was a nexus point for a lot of people, not just designers, but a point to have them think, “well, how can my work make more of an impact?” And now you’ve done this work for Dēmos, you’re doing this work for The Ford Foundation. I hope that others will hear your story and realize that this is something that they can do. Nonprofit is a space that they can go into and that they can often find success. So thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

David Perrin:

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, super overjoyed. Thank you.

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Victor Ware

What does it take to be an art director? For Victor Ware, it’s a combination of three things: talent, hard work, and maybe…never sleeping. Victor has over a decade of experience and has done everything from working on legacy media brands to doing full-scale brand overhauls.

Our conversation began with a look at Victor’s current gig at Wide Eye, and he talked a bit about how future tech like AI and machine learning play into the work he does. He also talked about growing up in the DMV area, cutting his teeth in the design world at AOL and Vox Media, and balancing 9-to-5 work with starting his own design studio. Victor’s drive for excellence is evident, and I think we’ll be seeing a lot more from him in the years to come!

Interview Transcript

Maurice Cherry:
All right, so tell us who you are and what you do.

Victor Ware:
All right. My name is Victor Ware. I’m an art director at Wide Eye Creative currently. And yeah, I was specializing branding. I’ve been doing that for about six years now, specialing in branding. And yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing, what I’ve been focusing on.

Maurice Cherry:
How has the year been going for you so far? How’s 2023 been treating you?

Victor Ware:
2023 has actually been really good to me. I just transferred to Wide Eye coming from another job, so this has been my first time being a full-fledged art director. And it’s been really successful. I feel like at home at this agency. Yeah, it’s been going so far really good, and we’ve created a lot of projects in the advertise… Not the advertising space, in the political space. We have some other creative agencies that we’re working for. It’s just been really, really good.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I saw that Wide Eye, I think this might have been maybe a year or two ago, was recognized by Fast Company as one of the best agencies in the country.

Victor Ware:
Yes, yes. And I can say that is not an exaggeration. The people there are super talented, they are very driven and just kind. I think wherever you work, that’s one of the biggest things you look for. At least me, I look. I look for actual people caring about people. The work is super important, the work is always going to have that importance, but I think how you treat people is far above, beyond more important than that.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Now, aside from the change over to Wide Eye, have there been any other things that you’ve noticed this year that’s different from last year? Have there been any changes for you?

Victor Ware:
Oh yeah, actually, personally, I moved to Baltimore a couple years ago from DC and bought a house. And I’m living with my partner, and we’re really coming into our own and trying to build a life. I don’t know, it’s this leveling up my career, my personal life, and it’s been good so far.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice. Congratulations to you.

Victor Ware:
Thank you.

Maurice Cherry:
Let’s talk more about Wide Eye. I’m curious, what is a typical day like for you there?

Victor Ware:
Yeah, I think a typical day, I’m managing others designer, so I’m checking in with them, I’m checking on projects. Usually I’m on two to three projects, branding projects, either making sure we’re getting deliverables out the door for our clients. We also have retainers for clients, and then checking in on those projects. There’s always that balance between things that are due right now, things that will be due later in the week, and then things that are due in a month. Always checking and making sure I’m on top of things.

And then, yeah, I have time to design, so that’s either building a new logo or brand guidelines. A big part of my job is maintaining brand guidelines and creating those so that when we hand those over to clients, they have the best shot of executing their brand that we put all this energy into and they put all this energy into to make sure it will be useful and work for many years to come.

And then the other thing as meetings. I feel like a lot of designers hate meetings, but we really try to make sure our meetings are purposeful, that we have an agenda, that we know why we’re having a meeting. And that usually helps a lot. Yeah, that’s my typical day.

Maurice Cherry:
That’s good that you get to have some hands on time with the work.

Victor Ware:
Yes. I love being a designer. Like I mentioned before, this is my first time being a full-fledged art director and having more of that strategic or managerial role. I don’t want to lose my skills as a designer either, so I’m building both of those skills at the same time. But yeah, I love creating. This is why I got into this originally.

Maurice Cherry:
I’ve had other art directors and other folks working at agencies on the show, and it’s hard for them to get that time to be able to do that because, yeah, you are managing projects, you’re doing a lot of checking in, like you mentioned, you’re doing meetings, but it sounds like things are structured at Wide Eye where you still get that opportunity to get hands on with the work. You mentioned that you’re managing another designer. What does the team look like that you generally work with?

Victor Ware:
We have a pretty small team. We break it down to we have interactive side, we have our branding side, and we have a couple of designers specializing in motion design as well. We’re really a small and nimble team with designers. We have engineers, project managers, and then also operations folks that help keep the business running.

I would say there’s about 30 to 40 people working total at Wide Eye right now. And yeah, it’s like a perfectly oil machine. Everyone that comes on board just fits. I think they’ve done a really good job of creating a team that is optimized to really do the best results. And then, like I mentioned before, people that are just good people, I think that makes it even more special.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, I’m curious, with Wide Eye having the reputation that it has, even some of its clients like the White House, Democratic National Convention, et cetera… And I know that Wide Eye is not specifically just about progressive politics in that sense. A couple of episodes ago, I had on Rudy Manning. He’s an agency owner. He owns Pastilla Inc. out in Pasadena. And we were talking about the future of agencies. What does it mean to be an agency in the world that we’re currently in? Particularly when you think about the rise of AI technologies and stuff like that. I’m curious, is that something that you are dealing with now in your work? Are you having those conversations?

Victor Ware:
Yeah, it’s something that has come up a lot. One of our creator directors is very interested in technology and how… I would say we all are to some extent, how that changes design, how it could benefit design, and what that means for the landscape and for our careers. We’ve started experimenting with adding either ChatGPT into writing copy or using it for brainstorming.

I think the way I look at technology is throughout design history, it’s always changed how we work. If you go back from type setting and using the printing press and letter press all the way to now everything’s digital, I think we just learn and grow with the technology and use it to our advantage. And so that’s what I’m hoping happens. I know there’s a lot of fear that this will devalue design or it will make designers obsolete, but I think the opposite. I think designers, we’re always at the forefront of technology, we’re always trying to use that to communicate better. And so I’m hoping and I’m hopeful that the rise of AI technology will just help us communicate better if we use it right. And that’s the key. Are we using it correctly? And so that’s probably the biggest question.

Maurice Cherry:
What would you say is the correct way to use it?

Victor Ware:
As a tool and not as a replacement. I think we should never forget that all of us are people. At the end of the day, we’re talking to people, we’re designing for, people are using our products, and they’re interacting with our websites or our brands or whatever. We shouldn’t forget that. We shouldn’t just think of people as commodities or as tools of themselves. No, we’re building these for other people like ourselves, we should use our tools, whether it’s AI or just regular dumb tools to help and make the world better. And yeah, it is a challenge because there are always those people who aren’t focused on doing the best, so I think it’s up to us who are interested in doing good to push that agenda even more.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s interesting, I’m writing a book right now, I’ve mentioned this on the show before, and I’ve been using ChatGPT, not to, well, to help me write the book. I use it as a good assistant. If I need to find a lead or something that I need to pursue in terms of research, it’s been really great for that, especially for specific figures I may not know or people I may not be super familiar with. There’s only so far, I think, that you can go with just strict internet research. And what ChatGPT helps me to do is at least send me partially down the right path. Now, I will admit it’s not-

Victor Ware:
It’s not perfect.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s not perfect. And in some cases, it’s not even correct. It’s-

Victor Ware:
That’s true. It’s funny, I’ve seen a lot of examples where it’s just got things totally wrong or just makes up stuff. And so I think that is also the thing that we have to be wary of. It’s like, we can’t give too much control over it, we have to make sure we’re still living in the real world.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I was doing research on one person. I’m not going to mention who it is because they’re in the book, but I was doing research on this person, and I asked ChatGPT, I’m like, “Okay, assume that you are a world renowned civil rights scholar. Tell me in two or three paragraphs who this person is, or whatever, and where I can find more information on him.” And one of the things that said was, “Oh, you can go to the University of Chicago’s daily library.” No, I think it was University of Illinois in Chicago. You can go to their library, and they have a whole section of his letters and all this stuff. I was like, “Oh, okay. I didn’t know that.”

Victor Ware:
That’s exciting.

Maurice Cherry:
Right? It’s exciting. I go to the website, I go to chat with the librarian, and I tell them, “Yeah, I’ve heard you’ve got this archive of letters and things. And how can I gain access to it?” And the librarian was like, “We don’t have that. Where did you hear that from?” I’m like, “Sorry.”

Victor Ware:
ChatGPT. Because a computer told me.

Maurice Cherry:
Right. “The computer told me that you had it,” and they don’t have it. I’m like, “Well, shit.” But it was good because at least it didn’t send me too far down a rabbit hole that wouldn’t have went anywhere. Now I’m like, okay, that was a wrong lead. Let me pursue something else. And research, I think, can be like that; sometimes you get sent on these wild goose chases. And I guess what ChatGPT at least helped me to do in this particular instance is cut it off at the pass. Oh, don’t do that.

Victor Ware:
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I think just like we had to learn how to use Google, for instance, I think we have to learn how to use AI tools. I remember the first time I used Google, I was in the 8th grade. No, I was younger than that, I was probably in the 4th grade trying to research a project. I had to go to the public library, and they had to show me how to use the Google. It is weird now because now we all use all these tools daily. It’s on our phone, it’s on our work computer, it’s on our personal computer. It’s so ubiquitous, we don’t think about it. And I think that’s basically how AI tools will evolve; it’ll become part of our life without us really knowing. And that sounds scary, but it’s also something that we’ve seen before. For example, autocorrect. Autocorrect, we use it all the time. It’s the most helpful thing. We don’t have to remember how to spell long words like expialidocious or something. And yeah, it’s those little tools that are helpful, that are ubiquitous that we don’t notice until it becomes that part of our life.

Maurice Cherry:
I remember… I don’t know, maybe this was about five or six months ago when people started rolling out the AI avatars. And one, there were people that were saying, “I can’t believe you’re paying for that. You’re paying for that?” Blah, blah, blah, all this stuff. Which I think gets into a whole other conversation around people that are using these sorts of things and then going to humans, expecting them to alter or change or make corrections on what the AI has done. That’s a whole other conversation.

But the thing is that we’ve been so used to face app and face tune and some form of digital retouching and all that stuff that AI avatars are not that much of a stretch to the imagination past that. And because these models are trained on pictures that, honestly, we are putting online, people putting immense amount of personal data online-

Victor Ware:
There’s so much data, yes.

Maurice Cherry:
… through social media. We’re feeding the machine that’s making this happen, so can we really be that mad at it? I don’t know. It’s a really tricky conundrum. I think the ethics around it are still something that folks were trying to iron out even just on a personal level. I’ve had to tell people, even for the show, “If you’re going to send me a picture, send me a picture, don’t send me an AI avatar.” I prefer it to be you because we’re talking about you, we’re not talking about your avatar or whatever. But, yeah.

Victor Ware:
Yeah, amorphous representation of you. Yeah, it does. And that’s where I say it’s that scary part because I think we’re always pushing this line. And when I say we, I mean humanity as a collective, we’re always pushing this line of technology and what the next new thing, and we’re blurring this line between real and the virtual. It’s just going to get more confusing. But I’m hoping that we figure it out as we continue to do. I feel like in this time in history, it feels like technology is, by and large, a benefit. And I’m hoping that remains for the foreseeable future.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, that’s a good point. What would you say is the best thing about the work that you do?

Victor Ware:
I would say that the best thing is really being creative, is getting to work on new and exciting problems for a variety of people. And this is not just for where I’m at today, but throughout my career I’ve gotten to work on new things and that challenge me and allow me to think about problems in a different way and be creative.

I’ve always been a creative person, even since I was a really young kid and loved doodling and drawing cartoon characters. I would tape Dragon Ball Z, and I would pause it so I can draw the characters. I don’t know, it was a way to express myself and a way to just have fun. I’m grateful to be in this field because I can still have fun, even in my daily job. Even though it’s still a job, it’s still hard, it’s still days where I’m frustrated and burnt out, but at the end of the day, I’m grateful that I can do what I love.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. There’s some saying about how even when you think about what you’re going through right now, think about who you were 10 years ago. You would’ve wished to be at the place that you’re at now. It’s helpful to put it in perspective.

Victor Ware:
Yeah, I think that’s very true. I think about myself 10 years ago. 10 years ago, I was just graduating or I was probably still in a design school. And I don’t know if I would dream I would be in this exact position. Yeah, I am lucky in that regard. And even if you’re not where you think you should be or where you want to be, I think there’s so many different possibilities of where you could be, and it could be worse, or it could be better. But I think we have to be grateful for our situations and not lose sight of what we’re striving for but also be in the moment; this is a good moment, or this is a bad moment, and be grateful for it.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Let’s get more into your background. You mentioned being really creative at a young age. Tell me more about that. Were you introduced a lot to art and design growing up?

Victor Ware:
Yeah, I think my mom, she raised me and my brother, actually, she was a single parent. We grew up in DC. My mom’s from DC, my grandfather’s from DC so we go way back. And she always encouraged us to paint or draw. She would spend time with us and make paintings. She loved to draw as well. I remember she would draw characters. And I don’t know, we had a lot of fun as a family doing that. She would take us to museums, we would go to parks. We had a lot of time to explore the world in a really positive way. And she encouraged me to be creative, she encouraged me to express myself, so I’m grateful for that as well. It really helped me just pursue what I wanted to do.

I was also really interested in science as a kid. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a scientist or be an artist. I really wanted to be an artist. And I feel like I met somewhere in the middle because I feel like design is very analytical, it’s very logical, but it also is very creative. I found a happy medium in the end.

Maurice Cherry:
When did you know that this was something that you really wanted to study and get into?

Victor Ware:
Yeah, I figured that out in high school. I took art for all four years. It was an elective at my high school. And I just loved it. I started looking up colleges. I was like, “Okay, I can actually go to school for this.” I really want to be an illustrator. That was my initial goal. And I got accepted to a few schools in New York and Chicago and DC, and so I chose to stay in DC. It made sense financially. The Corcoran College of Art and Design is where I attended. But they didn’t have an illustration program, they had a design program, so I said, “Okay, I’ll try this out.” I had already been experimenting with Photoshop. Or not really Photoshop, the free version of Photoshop. I don’t know if you know about GIMP or-

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, yeah, mm-hmm.

Victor Ware:
… you know about Inkscape. I didn’t have any money, I didn’t even have a laptop at the point. When I first went to school, I didn’t have a laptop for the first year. And I struggled so hard because you’re majoring in design and you don’t have a laptop. You’re going to have to spend extra hours at school working. I did that, and it was difficult. But yeah, I learned on the free software.

And I was just having fun. I was really into music. I still am. I really love album art, and so I was designing my own album art, I was designing album art for my brother, who’s also a musician. And yeah, that’s how I got into it. And I was like, “Oh, okay.” And I started learning about the fundamentals in school, and I was like, “Okay, I can do this. This is not that bad.” I know I wanted to be an illustrator, but I’m good at this design thing. And now I made a whole career out of it.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s interesting how there’s such a connection between design and music in that way, I guess, because they’re both just these pure forms of creative expression. But I remember cutting my teeth on doing fake album designs and stuff. I didn’t use GIMP and Inkscape, though. I’ve heard of them, but I used… Well, this was back in the day, I was using basically a cracked version of Photoshop that didn’t give my computer a virus or something.

But I would do that, and I would go to a bookstore, like a Barnes and Noble. And you know how they had those Photoshop tips and tricks books and all this sort of stuff, and those.

Victor Ware:
Yes, yes. No.

Maurice Cherry:
And they would have these big magazines, these $10 or $15 magazines that always came with a CD. I would copy the tutorials out of there and then go home and try to recreate stuff. That’s how I taught myself how to use Photoshop, how to use Illustrator. And I guess in the process of doing that, I’m also teaching myself about typography, negative space, color, things like that. And a lot of it was making fake album covers for groups that don’t exist, for artists that are not real people. Just taking a stock photo and being like, “What can I do with this? How can I change this around?” It’s interesting in that connection between those two.

Victor Ware:
Yeah, I was doing the same things. I watched so many tutorials online like psdtoots.com. I remember going in there and just like, “Oh, this is a new thing I’ve never tried before.” And it was just a lot of that. I was excited to learn and just having fun with it, not with any intention of, “Oh, I’m going to be this kind of designer, or I’m going go…” I just wanted to have fun. And like I said, I really love music. I was making my own music and making the album mark for it, and that was fun. And I saw that connection between them. But I’ve noticed there’s this weird percentage of designers who are also musicians. And it’s really scary because I honestly, maybe, I want to say two out of three designers in a room, and you’re like, “Oh, okay. You make music. Okay, of course you do.”

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I was a musician before I started getting into design. I played trombone all through middle school, through high school, in college, out of college.

Victor Ware:
[inaudible 00:26:00].

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Did you play anything? Were you a singer? Or what did you do?

Victor Ware:
I sang. I was in choir for a very long time. I taught myself the piano. I’m not a good piano player by any means, but I learned a little bit. And I could produce my own beats and things like that. And yeah, that was my outlet. After school, I would come home, rush home and spend hours making music, and then I would do some design tutorials. And that’s why it would always intertwine for me, you know?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Now, tell me more about the school, about Corcoran. Do you feel like they really helped prepare you for the design world while you were there?

Victor Ware:
It was the oldest design school in DC. Very, very famous gallery. They’ve been around for a long time. And I feel like the education was very traditional. There was a lot of focus on print. A lot of my teachers had been working in design field for decades. I got a really good basis on theory, on history. We had just amazing teachers, even on the technical side. But I would say it had nothing to do with what I ended up doing. Like I said, there was a lot of focus on print design, which is good though, because I think you learn all the fundamentals, the gestalt, you learn color theory, you learn how to layout type, and so I think having that basis was really helpful.

When I graduated, I straight went to doing UI and UX design, which really, I hadn’t learned a whole lot in school. I had to learn a lot on the job. But I had that foundation that really helped me just get a kickstart, so I didn’t floundering. But I had to learn a lot about UI conventions. I had to learn about HTML and CSS and how those things work, and I had to learn what UX design was. Product design wasn’t a title yet, really. It was [inaudible 00:28:08]. And so there was a lot of new stuff. I was learning how to design for iOS apps and Android and what the difference was. But yeah, it was exciting, it was an exciting time. But yeah, I would say school prepared me to learn more, if that makes sense.

Maurice Cherry:
You were in school during the time when the web was really exploding in such a massive way. We’re talking about the rise of HTML5, we’re talking about the huge move away from table-based layouts to CSS. And yeah, UI and UX weren’t really even talked about as a thing yet. And that’s not to say they didn’t exist. I don’t think the terminology was really there.

Victor Ware:
Just wasn’t formalized.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it wasn’t formalized in a way where people could learn about it. And schools, I can tell you schools were not on it at all. A lot of places were still catching up. I taught design for two years in, I think it was 2012 to 2014, something like that. And when I started, they were still teaching table-based web design. And I was like, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, this has to be CSS. We can’t be teaching these students this kind of stuff, and then they go out to try to get a job and nobody’s going to hire them because all their designs are dated. We got to teach them what is actually being used now in the industry.”

And that was such a massive change, just even from a department standpoint, because they’re like, “Well, we have to change curriculum, we have to change tests.” I was like, “Well, you’re going to have to do it now, because the industry is…” Not only is the industry changing in terms of what is being done in terms of the languages and stuff like that, but even the browser itself is shifting from being something that used to be strictly presentational to now being a workspace; cross browsers compatibility, all these different frameworks and JavaScript libraries and all this stuff. The things that you’re able now to do in a browser you really could not do 10 or 15 years ago. It’s a massive shift.

Victor Ware:
Oh, no, no, unimaginable. Yeah. The way we work in browsers now was unthinkable. One, no browser can handle what we’re doing now, even close to… The speed of everything that’s developed since that time is lightning. Everyone talks about the shift from Web 2.0 to 3.0, but we’re talking about the shift from 1.0 to 2.0. And that was a big, big, big jump. I think the big players were just solidifying their stance in the playground, the Googles, the Facebook. That’s when they really became these big behemoths. But yeah, before that there was AOL and Netscape and Yahoo. But yeah, and no one had seen these Goliath companies, the Amazons of the world before. And yeah, it just happened really, really quickly.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Speaking of AOL, oh, you worked there-

Victor Ware:
I did.

Maurice Cherry:
… for a little over four years. This was after you graduated from Corcoran. Tell me about that. Because first of all, I didn’t… I was doing my research, I was like, I didn’t even know AOL was still around. I remember getting the CDs, the American Online CDs in the mail as a teenager.

Victor Ware:
Oh, we had those, we had those, yeah. No, in the office they were still there.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, wow. Okay.

Victor Ware:
One of my professors at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, he was creative director at AOL, and he was like, “There’s this internship. Apply.” Because I was a junior at the time. Yeah, that’s how I got my first job. And then after he left AOL, I ended up staying. I was just there for four years. And like I was saying, I learned a lot about UI and UX design. My first job was working on the AOL homepage. We also worked on AOL’s first news app that went in the iOS store and Android store. They hadn’t had… Which was crazy, they not had an app before.

And yeah, I learned so much in that job. As I was mentioning before, most of my education was more print focused, it was very traditional, and now I’m designing webpages, which I was like… I don’t know. I thought I was going to be working on a magazine or something. It was really fun. We had a really small and nimble team, and I just learned so much. It was fun. And the only reason I left AOL is one thing, they were notorious for laying people off, so I hanged in there as long as I could. And I did get laid off, but it was fun. Like I said, I really learned a lot.

And yeah, it was weird being at a place that I remember from my childhood and the dial-up tone and just seeing all that. And they had this huge campus in Virginia near Dallas Airport. You can see how big AOL used to be. It was weird to be in a company where it’s not at its heyday, it’s slowly becoming less relevant. But we were still working, we were working on things. We were still bringing out new products. We were still trying to compete with the other players in the game. I do enjoy the people I worked with and the time I spent there.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, it’s interesting about those old companies. We still have EarthLink in Atlanta.

Victor Ware:
Yeah. Really?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That threw me for a loop because I remember when EarthLink used to be in Midtown, it was a pretty big deal when it first came about. Now it’s a little bit further out in town. But I didn’t even know they were still a thing just in terms of it being an internet service provider. I was like, “People use EarthLink on purpose?” I did not know it was still around because a lot of those older Web 1.0 companies just either faded into obscurity or they just-

Victor Ware:
Yep. Or got gobbled up.

Maurice Cherry:
Right, exactly. It was just very few from that era that still were around. You mentioned this art director at AOL was actually a mutual colleague of ours, Ted Irvine.

Victor Ware:
Yes, Ted Irvine, yes.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Tell me more about working with him. What was that like?

Victor Ware:
He was my instructor at Corcoran teaching after effects. He was very good at teaching. I’m not a motion designer, so he made it easy enough for me to understand. That was good. Working for him was really fun. He wasn’t at AOL super long by the time I joined. It was good to work with him. There was also a few other people I knew from Corcoran and that worked there. And it was just a good environment. We knew each other, we knew each other’s backgrounds, so we knew where we were coming from from a point of view. And it was very collaborative. He was a good mentor. He actually ended up moving to Espy Nation, which became Vox Media. And then I ended up joining him in Vox Media not four years later. It was just good to see him again then, and it was good working overall.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. It’s a small world. I think people who have been longtime, longtime listeners of Revision Path remember that we used to do some stuff with Vox Media back in 2015. I think, I want to say 2015, 2016. I was doing some consulting with their product team, and then Vox ended up being a sponsor of Revision Path for a little while so I got to go to the office and sit down with the team. Actually, I can tell this story now. I interviewed for a job there. Didn’t get it, but-

Victor Ware:
Honestly, I’ll tell you this. The first time I interviewed there, I didn’t get the job. I interviewed there twice.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, really?

Victor Ware:
Yes, yes. Yeah. I went to work on the website, and I didn’t get that job. The job I did get the second time I interviewed was working in advertising, their custom ad, what they call Rev Ex. And then after a year doing that, they moved me to the brand team, which I worked on for five years.

Maurice Cherry:
I went through six rounds of interviews for I think it was the product team coordinator position. And didn’t get it, but after I ended up consulting for a year. I think you probably were there when Ashley was there, right?

Victor Ware:
Yes.

Maurice Cherry:
Because she was the product team coordinator.

Victor Ware:
Yeah. I was there.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Yeah. Ashley’s great, by the way. This is no slight to her.

Victor Ware:
She is, she is, she is amazing.

Maurice Cherry:
But I went through six rounds. And I was so pissed, I was so mad I did not get that interview because after they were doing the consulting, a lot of the consulting I did was around DEI stuff. They were like, “Yeah, well, how do we get more Black people to work here?” And I was like, “Gee, I don’t know. How do we get more Black people to work here? I wouldn’t know anything about that.” But-

Victor Ware:
It’s interesting that you mentioned that. Actually, one of the last projects I worked on before leaving Vox Media was around their DE and I initiatives. And what we did is revamped it, rebranded it, amplifying voices to make sure that, one, we’re focusing that message of how we are incorporating more diversity into the work, and then two, making sure that’s loud and clear too, both internally and externally. And that was a very meaningful project to me. I work with who’s the head of DE and I. I think he’s still there, Chris. Very, very inspirational person. And yeah, I think they really took it serious.

But yeah, it is very important to make sure you don’t just have one type of person in design field and in the tech field in general, and have that opening up for doors for people like me who probably traditionally, we didn’t get those opportunities/ or I didn’t even know design was an option really growing up until I started looking. And that was just by happenstance that I ended up in graphic design because, like I said, I was going to go a whole different route. But yeah, I’m hoping that projects like that continue to open the doors for people who don’t get those opportunities normally.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. I think the person you’re talking about is Chris Claremont, right?

Victor Ware:
Yes. Chris Claremont, yes.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. And for folks listening, not the X-Men Chris Claremont, though it is spelled the same. But yeah, no, I don’t think I knew Chris. Chris might have been a little bit after the time that I worked with them, but I do remember, and this was something… Again, I can talk about this now because the NDA is up, but at the time I remember going in talking with the product team, and they had nothing in terms of diversity and inclusion stuff. They didn’t even no have a survey, didn’t know how many people of color worked in the product team. I was like, “Okay, let’s start there. Let’s do that first.”

Victor Ware:
We had our own Slack channel just for the Black people that worked there. And we kept count; we knew exactly. But it was a problem, it was a problem, I have to say that. And I think it took them time to recognize that. Vox Media is one of those companies that, especially because they have Vox, it was one of those progressive companies, you knew, okay, they have these values. And I think what happens with sometimes is that they don’t see their blind spots. You know what I mean?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Victor Ware:
It’s hard because you’re like, “Okay, we’re doing all this great work, we’re progressive.” But it’s like, no, we still have work to do. Just because we’re pushing these progressive ideas and we’re moving forward doesn’t mean we don’t also have work to do. I think that’s what we all have to remember no matter where we’re working, no matter what we’re doing is that we all have work to do. We still are not where we need to be.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, absolutely. A lot of companies back then during that period, that was a very common thing. Because I think the Clarion call was really starting to go out in the tech community around that time about diversity and inclusion, but in a way that made everyone accountable. You started to see statistics about the percentage of people of color on workforces and things like this, and companies were really trying to find ways to implement different programs or things of that nature to really increase that. Yeah, that was really emblematic of that time. And speaking of which, and not to go too much more, I know we’ve talked a lot about Vox and I don’t want to skip this part, right before you left AOL and before you went over to Vox, you started your own studio called Studio Never Sleeps. What made you decide to strike out on your own like that?

Victor Ware:
I actually always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And this was a dream that I had from when I was a kid, so it was partially that. It was also partially because I needed some money. Like I said, I grew up poor. I didn’t have a lot of money growing up. Even after design school, I had bills to pay. I was in debt. I wanted to be more self-sufficient. One thing about being laid off of a job, you realize, oh, nothing’s permanent, nothing’s permanent. Nothing’s really guaranteed unless you build something for yourself. Partially, that was a reaction to that.

And then also, like I said, I really wanted to have my own vision and do things my way. It was a good run where I was doing freelance. I was doing really small projects. After a while, I started building regular clients, I started working on larger projects, on web design. A lot of the projects I was doing back then was web design. And it became a thing. After AOL, I had to find more employment. I ended up working at USA Today as a freelancer under the Studio Never Sleeps moniker, and as a contractor. That was also a very great experience of running a business and having other projects, but it was really great to have one client also that I knew I could count on that continual check. It was something that I’m grateful for that I took a chance and learned a lot about how to manage books and how to write proposals, how to put together presentation decks. It was hard. It’s not easy being a freelancer, so I applaud anyone that actually runs a creative agency or runs their own business. But yeah, it’s still a goal of mine to be able to one day have a fully fledged business and be able to hire people, be able to create opportunities for other people.

Maurice Cherry:
How was it balancing full-time work and doing these freelance works at your studio?

Victor Ware:
it was a lot of working at night. I had a full-time job working at a day, and then meeting with clients at night. I had a business center at my apartment complex, and I would have clients come by, “I need this logo for this thing.” And it was crazy, looking back at it. I think I was just hungry. I was a lot younger, and I was like, “Okay, I can do this. I can stay up. I can do 12-hour days, I can do 15-hour days.” But it did take a toll. It’s not easy keeping track of all that stuff and constantly trying to find clients and working around deadlines. But I made it work, just a lot of sleepless nights. That’s the joke in the name of the-

Maurice Cherry:
Of the name, Studio Never Sleeps?

Victor Ware:
Yeah, yeah, because I was not sleeping.

Maurice Cherry:
Wow. I remember those early days when I had my studio trying to… I would tell people, “The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you always work half days, any 12 hours you want.” And it’s true. You sometimes just get so into it. And you’re doing everything yourself until you manage to get a network or build out a team. It’s a lot to try to pull together.

Victor Ware:
Yeah, it is.

Maurice Cherry:
And now you’re at Wide Eye. Now you’re doing this great work as an art director. What advice would you give to someone that’s listening to this, they’re hearing your story and they want to follow in your example and become an art director? What would you tell them?

Victor Ware:
Yeah. I would say there’s no one path to getting to this field, to this job, or even my role specifically. I think a lot of people are trying to… When they see someone in a place they want to be, they want replicate it exactly. And I would say that there’s so many routes to this. I think the main thing is dedication to learning and to growing. And when I say learning, I don’t mean you have to go to design school, I don’t mean you have to go on online and look up tutorials. There’s so many different ways, whether it’s a bootcamp, whether you’re just drawing and teaching yourself or you’re just playing around on free design programs like I did. Some of the best designers I know didn’t go to design school. Some of the best designers I know went to graduate school, or some of the designers I know we’re doing something totally different before they decided design was their passion. There’s no one road.

And I think that can be freeing a little bit because to know that you can carve your own path is, for me at least, I think a great thing to know, that you don’t have to do this one way. You don’t have to go to design school and then go intern at this agency, and then get this child at AOL. No, you don’t have to do all that, you can start today and decide you want to be a designer. Or if you want to shift careers, you can do that and start. I think the most important thing is starting and being humble and saying, “Okay, I have to learn,” and being happy to learn.

Maurice Cherry:
Who are some of your influences for your creative work? Who inspires you?

Victor Ware:
I would say a guy I work with, Alex Medina, he is a super talented creative director. We work together at Vox Media. I love his work. A lot of people that I went to design school with or art school with are working artists now, and their work is amazing. I really love just seeing what’s coming up. There’s a young designer, Josiah, who’s been doing a lot of stuff for music industry, album art. I love seeing that type of stuff. I gather an inspiration from all the up and coming designers, people who are just hungry and willing to try something different and new. And so that gives me a lot of energy and makes me want to just do something different.

Maurice Cherry:
At this stage of where you’re at in your career, when you look back over the past 10 years from Corcoran to AOL to Vox to now, do you feel creatively satisfied?

Victor Ware:
That’s a hard question. I think yes and no. Yes, I feel satisfied that I’m able to create and I’m able to express myself and solve these creative problems, but I think part of being an artist or a designer is a little bit of that never feeling completely satisfied. You’re always like, “There’s more that I could do. There’s another level I can reach.”
I think about painters who’ve painted the same subject over and over again but never really feel they’ve captured the essence of it. That’s how I feel like. I’m satisfied in the moment of creating, but after it’s done, I’m like, “Okay, what’s the next thing?”

Maurice Cherry:
Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What do you want the next chapter of your story to look like?

Victor Ware:
At this stage, I really want to continue growing as a design leader and helping the next generation of designers grow and find their own creative voices and become the best that they can be. And I really want to keep putting out great work. I want to make a positive difference in the world. That’s something I truly believe in. It’s one of the reasons I’m at Wide Eye is because they, all of them, everyone that works there truly believes in design for good. And I think that’s where I want to be. I want to keep doing design that will be a positive net good on the world.

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 that online?

Victor Ware:
victorware, so that’s just my name, first and last name,.co. Don’t go to.com. That’s that’s a software company that I’m still trying to get the domain for. But yeah, that will have all my portfolio and links to my socials. That’s where you find me.

Maurice Cherry:
All right, sounds good. Victor Ware, I want to thank you so, so much for coming on the show. Thank you.

Victor Ware:
Thank you, Maurice. I appreciate it.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah. Thank you really for just sharing your journey and design. It’s always good to see people’s progression and how they’ve gotten to where they are. That’s in part why the show is called Revision Path is to show the different sorts of ways that people can get to where they are, and so that’s why we have people from all over the industry. And I think it’s really important for folks to see how your hard work has paid off over the years, even starting your own studio and doing this while juggling the 9:00 to 5:00. I can see at each level of your story how you’ve progressed to get to where you are now, so I think it’ll be really exciting to see where you are in the next five years, see if you get to that point.

Victor Ware:
I appreciate it. Yeah, it would be great to check in five years from now just and see where I’m at. But yeah, I appreciate talking with me today. This was a really great conversation.

Sponsored by Brevity & Wit

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If you know how to deliver excellent creative work reliably, and enjoy the autonomy of a virtual-based, freelance life (with no non-competes), check them out at brevityandwit.com.

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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