Episode 125 — Chris Do — Founder of Blind

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Episode 125 — Chris Do — Founder of Blind

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Episode 125 — Chris Do — Founder of Blind

Hey, everyone!

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 125! I’m speaking with Chris Do, the Founder of Blind, a design and branding firm in Santa Monica, CA. I’m really excited about this one! Chris is a massive influencer in design, as well as a really insightful guy. I’m sure you’ve seen the work that Blind puts out for Xbox, Riot Games, A&E and so many other places!

I love this Episode because we talk about valuable subjects on how we can get more results in our careers. I found this one to be really valuable — and a fun one! I hope you will as well.

Let’s dive in!

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

[-1:18:12] We have a lot of really cool Episodes coming up. I’m excited because I’ve got a lot more solo Episodes as well.

[-1:17:55] January has been about putting everything in its place. I’m excited to see what 2018 brings!

[-1:16:51] We’re working on a new website. This one is built especially around giving away free content and helping you on your creative journey.

[-1:16:06] We’re working on a few guides: a Hardware Guide, How to Break into a New Career, etc. Check out the Productive Artist: www.allanmckay.com/productiveartist/.

 

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS DO

Chris Do is the Founder and CEO of Blind, a motion design firm. The studio has worked on projects for Xbox, Riot Games, A&E, Spike TV, ESPN, Google, Honda, Audi; as well as music videos for Coldplay, Justin Timberlake and Raveonettes. Since its founding in 1995, Blind has evolved into a brand design consultancy firm.

Prior to founding Blind, Chris received his BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. He has taught at the California Institute of the Arts, SIGGRAPH, Otis College of Design, CalState Northridge and several other places. Chris has also founded TheFutur, an educational platform where creative professionals learn business principles.

In this Episode, Chris talks about finding his purpose and founding a successful company; as well as the importance for artists to acquire business and marketing skills, to build their community and brand.

 

Blind’s Website: https://blind.com

Chris Do’s Profile: https://blind.com/studio/people/chris-do/

Blind on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Blindinc/

Blind on Instagram: @blindla

Website for TheFutur: https://www.thefutur.com

TheFutur’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b3c7kxa5vU-bnmaROgvog

 

[-1:14:11] Allan: Again, thank you for taking the time to do this. Chris, do you want to quickly introduce yourself and tell us about Blind?

Chris: Sure, thanks for having me first of all! My name is Chris Do. I’m the Founder of Blind, a motion design firm which I started in 1995. And now we’ve evolved into a brand design consultancy. The other company I founded is called TheFutur, an education and entertainment platform. We teach mostly through YouTubeThose are the two companies I run.

[-1:13:47] Allan: That’s awesome, man! I’d love to dive into your roots more. Everyone has their own story. Some people fell into being a creative, others stumbled along for a while. Did you always like design or did you discover it?

Chris: I always loved being creative: drawing, imagining things, making things. But I have to admit the word “design” wasn’t part of my lexicon. I didn’t know anybody in my world who was doing design for a profession. It wasn’t until I was 17 years old when I was working at a silkscreening shop that I met a graphic designer. And once I met that person, that reality became very tangible. It hit me in the face like a lightning bolt: This is it!

[-1:12:35] Allan: And in the early days, did you have a lot of struggle?

Chris: It is pretty strange in the way it works. I’m in my 40s now and I read books about finding what it is you’re supposed to do. It’s true. Even back then, once I knew what I was doing, instead of looking into the future with anxiety, I looked forward to it with anticipation. Things seemed to materialize from the moment I decided to become a designer. My boss at the time said, “Chris, what do you want to do?” I told him, “I want to be a designer”. He told me I needed to go to the Art Center. I went home and told my parents. I didn’t even know where the Art Center was or what programs they had.

I moved to San Diego and lived with my brother. I met an instructor who was invested in my success. Everything seemed to line up and it gave me a huge boost of confidence. Without a sense of identity, you’re a house of cards. Any shift in the wind can topple you down in any direction. Once I found my profession, everything seemed to fall into place. Of course, there were bumps along the way, but it wasn’t because I was confused.

[-1:10:46] Allan: That really awesome that you had that support! Some people get their parents saying, “Art is not a real job.” It’s so critical that once you start to resonate with what you want to do, that you start to connect the dots. Suddenly, you see the opportunities everywhere. It’s constant opportunities everywhere and you’re able to jump on them right away. 

Chris: I wanted to take this opportunity — since you’re talking about it — to shine the light on my parents’ relationship and how they made room for me to pursue something. At that point in time, my dad wasn’t into that idea at all. A lot of credit goes to my mom for shielding me from that. One parent in a traditional Asian family stood up and made sure that I was able to pursue my dream. Every once in a while, we need a champion in our lives, to really help make space for us and to allow us to explore what we want to become even if we don’t know that yet. 

[-1:07:25] Allan: That’s awesome! And did you have a lot of mentors in the beginning of your career?

Chris: Here is the tricky part. It’s only upon reflection, looking back at my life, that I would call them “mentors”. One of my mentors was my older brother and he wouldn’t think of it this way now. He was one of the people who saw things in me. I was 17 years old and I would express a lot of artistic tendencies. He took it upon himself to fly me to San Diego to the Spike and Mike Film Festival. I didn’t even know what animated films were, he was exposing me to them. He got me my first credit card so that I could establish credit. He helped me buy me my first computer. He was my first mentor: He made enough space for me to dream.

[-1:07:27] Allan: I think having those people who champion you that’s really important. We can’t do it all alone. All it takes is one or two people to put a seed of doubt.

Chris: It’s only now that I can look back and be grateful. But in the moment, I didn’t even recognize it.

[-1:06:32] Allan: That’s great! I love that moment of clarity. Did you always have that entrepreneurial bug to start businesses? 

Chris: I think I did. I think of myself as someone who is smarter than average — but not the smartest person in the room. That puts you in a dangerous place. I was smart enough to be dangerous and lazy. I would exploit opportunities to buy [something] at a lower price and sell at a higher price. I was trying to find something to do. We would do cray fishing and I would try to sell the fish to the neighbor. I would try selling anything I could get my hands on. I was going to hustle. It wasn’t until I found design that I could personally add something to the equation, instead of being the middleman between two things.

[-1:04:38] Allan: If anything, you were identifying demand and you were able to meet that demand. Early in your career, did you have a lot of artists and designers who inspired you?

Chris: I want to say I’m not that cultured. I had this odd fascination with Patrick Nagel, the illustrator who did these 80s style illustrations. It’s a very distinctive style. That was the only person I was aware of. There were also airbrush artists. This was all pre-computer. Airbrush was a way to do illustration.

[-1:03:16] Allan: That’s what I loved about LA, all these art books! These days, with the internet, it’s a lot easier to jump on Deviant Art. Back then, it was harder to get immersed. Diving into design, it’s such a competitive area. Did you find that in school there were people who hit the ground running?

Chris: I think for whatever reason design came easier to me than a lot of my classmates. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t scared of technology because I was exposed to computers. I remember going to City College in San Diego. I learned how to use Illustrator while using the 5K beige Mac with a monochrome screen. My instructor was showing me how to use the tools, and I grabbed the technology quickly and began to express myself — and that felt really empowering. I guess for a little while, I took it for granted that I could put in minimal effort. And that would create a slightly cocky person, and it showed. Then I realized I would have to do things differently so I began to change my habits and work ethic.

[-1:00:20] Allan: I think it’s really great to put the responsibility on yourself. When you take it on yourself, that’s the rocket fuel that helps you start to level up. You need to want to work hard. When did you get your big break? How did you transition into the industry?

Chris: I was really fortunate. As I was finishing up my schooling, a friend of mine got a job at an ad agency in Seattle called Cole and Weber. She said she needed a partner to work with and [asked me] to send in my portfolio. I was thinking I wasn’t built for advertising. I was really into graphic design, so I put together about four designs. To my surprise, I was given a job offer. I had a dilemma to stay in school or go to work. I worked on some print and tv ads and it was my first taste into what professional life would be like. I learned pretty quickly: Just the work ethic that I had — and the drive and my design sensibility — was going to be something that the industry would recognize. My boss gave me a promotion and a corner office, and I was barely 20-something years old.

I worked at the ad agency — and that was wonderful! I went back to school. Advertising wasn’t in the cards for me. I finished school and started looking for a job. Luck would have it, my friends from school were talented and I wanted to work with them. I got a job at Epitaph Records as a graphic designer, and I worked there for 1 and a half to 2 months; decided it wasn’t for me either. I quit and went freelance. So there wasn’t much of a lull. I’ve been working since I’ve been in school.

[-57:11] Allan: That reminds me of our mutual friend Ash Thorp (www.allanmckay.com/56/) who had to catch a train from San Diego to LA everyday. When you want something so bad, you put in all the effort. In the first 10 years, what were the projects where you had the most growth? 

Chris: I think the first time we did the first commercial, beginning to end. I think it was for Partnership for Drug-Free America. It was topographically driven. It was amazing in terms what we could do. Everything seemed super scary — until I did it five times. Our big break came with doing national tv work: We worked on some Buick car commercials, which led us to Mitsubishi car commercials (which were regional spots). That lead to Mitsubishi national stuff — and that got the floodgates opened. And the surge was coming on strong. We didn’t have qualified artists. We were being overworked. I remember telling my producer that the only way we could take on more work — is if we doubled the budget, thinking that would be the end of the story. Then my producers came back because they were able to double the budget. Those were the glory days, prior to the dot com bubble popping in 2000-2001.

[-54:43] Allan: In 1995, when you started Blind, what was it like? Starting a new business is always a scary experience, and pretty overwhelming. Did you have any hesitation going into it? Or was it something you felt you had to do.

Chris: I have to be honest with you: I had zero hesitation! This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a really long time. So when the opportunity came up to start a company, I jumped on it. When I tell this story, they think [I was] so brave. I’m not brave, I’m a coward. I thought of it in a very rational way. I thought, once I graduate school, I’ll have student loans. They were deferred for a year, so I thought I had this window of opportunity to strike. I thought I could sustain on $200 for a year. I thought this was the time to do it. As I would get older, it would get harder to take a risk. This was the least risky thing to do. It was a pretty dumb thing to do: I didn’t have any real portfolio to speak of, or contacts, or any network. I didn’t have marketing, business or sales skills. And yet, I did it and it worked out. And if people ask me, I answer, “You should not do it — unless you’re stupid like me.” There are smarter ways to do that! Going out there was just luck. The motion design industry wasn’t even a thing and we were at the epicenter of what was going to go down. So the tools and the technology was just becoming available:

– After Effects 1.0.

– Desktop machines were kind of okay to render things on.

– The boxes were like a million dollars.

The barrier to the entry was great. The opportunities were there, the economy was surging. Right time — right place. Even a fool like me got to succeed. We don’t live in those times anymore.

[-51:42] Allan: Within that, what would you recommend to people who want to start their own company now — given there is a high saturation but also amazing resources?

Chris: There is a couple of pieces of advice I can give here:

I. I believe that the era of classical design is gone. (And by “classical design” I mean making something perfect and it’s all about the craft, there is only one way to do something.) Why is that era gone? The market has become global where buyers have access to designers all over the world of different socioeconomic regions. How can you compete with that? As a buyer, it’s hard to discern what’s good and what’s great. They aren’t willing to pay for that. If you’re a classical designer, you’re going to be in big trouble.

You can still love the craft, but what you have to do is add another dimensionality to what you do — and that is community building. You’re trying to gather kindred spirits that believe what you believe. That way you become an influencer and you become less and less dependent on clients. A community wants to support you. I believe that’s part of the future.

II. All creative people — regardless of what you call yourself — you need to learn about business. Todd McFarlane talks about this. The only reason he was successful as a comic artist was he became bilingual: He could talk to business people. It’s about marketing and licensing. I think it’s essential that all undergraduate programs are split into a design and a business part.

You have to:

– Build your community;

– Study business;

– Learn about marketing in the digital age.

[-48:11] Allan: I think it’s so critical. Even if you’re one individual, you’re still a company. You need to start to thinking like a business. The whole starving mentality and taking pride in that — it’s so wrong. The people who are successful put in the work and get themselves out there. It’s so critical for all of us to embrace business. You have to surround yourself with tools to accelerate that.

Chris: I think about these things. I think there is this very outdated idea of what it means to be a successful artist: Nobody tells you what to do, you paint in your space and money isn’t important. We talk about this on our show. What makes you a pro — is when what you do is your primary source of income. I read books about hobbyists and professionals. It scares a lot of people. The alternative to me is much scarier: to wake up in your 50s and have the woulda / shoulda / coulda run through your mind.

[-45:22] Allan: Yeah, you have to get out of your comfort zone. You can’t white knuckle this job you find fulfilling. Doing it as a your career will give you fulfillment. I’ve seen it people do the right or the wrong way. It does require for you to plan ahead and listen to things you’re afraid of. Build contingency plans where it makes it safer. These days, you can at least start to build your portfolio. What are you thoughts on that? Do you think it’s something people can pursue using all of these amazing online tools?

Chris: When you say the risk, what are you referring to?

[-43:09] Allan: What are the risks when you start a company? Running out of money, not having security, etc.

Chris: This is going to sound contradictory: Nothing is ever as hard as you think — nor as easy. Let me tackle that. Some people think they can start their own business. It’s not that easy — but it’s not also as hard. You don’t need all that capitol. The truth is somewhere in the middle, so let’s do this gut check.

If you want to run your own business, you have to answer affirmatively to a couple of questions:

– Are you okay with the idea of failure? That has to be okay, if you’re willing to start. If your ego is okay with the idea of failure, you pass that step.

– Are you willing to do what other people aren’t willing to do? The problem with business owners is they don’t have a 9:00 to 5:00 [schedule]. The spend their [free] time reading, learning, going to events and trade shows, seminars, speaking, going outside of their comfort zone.

a. Are you okay managing people, especially creative people?

b. Are you comfortable talking to clients?

c. Are you comfortable negotiating?

d. Are you comfortable asking for new business?

You have to have a realistic point of you.

[-40:28] Allan: I love that! One of the things you’ve talked about is for artists to build a community. I always think about that article Kevin Kelly wrote, 1,000 True Fans: http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/. Do you want to talk about the necessity for creatives to build a community around what we do?

Chris: There is a necessity. The 1,000 true fans allow you to have a lifestyle business, where you don’t have to work as many hours and you can live well by American standards. For me, I’m trying to have a business where I draw a passive income, but it’s a big business that is worth a lot. It requires a different kind of community building.

[-39:19] Allan: You said there were two things everyone should really learn. One is to build a community around what we do.

Chris: There is a guy I’ve met through the internet. His name is Jonathan Rudolph. His name on Instagram is @LogoInspirations where he has over a million followers. He started posting early in the Instagram game, grew his audience really fast. He draws more from his passive income — for his “hobby” — than he does in his real job. Which gives him a ton of leverage when it comes to negotiating. I’m pretty sure pretty soon that’ll be the only thing he’ll be doing. That’s one story.

There is another person named Seth Lester whom many of you, guys in the design space, would know as an incredible calligrapher. I assumed that he had been doing this forever. He is a graphic designer based in the U.K. He has over a million followers. I tried to hire Seth for a client, and he doesn’t do commission work anymore. This is incredible! He doesn’t need to be working for clients anymore. For me, he can print money — his fanbase is so big! It’s about flipping the client paradigm around: from a client / vendor model to being an artist with a community. And I love that! That is how the future is supported. We’re supported by people who out of the goodness of their hearts decide to contribute to our organization. And that group is growing!

[-36:31] Allan: To talk about Blind, it’s amazing that you have that laser focus of what you want. Maybe being naive helps with creating fearlessly. What were the bigger challenges in the beginning of creating a massively successful design company?

Chris: The challenges were many, many.

1. The first was: When you have no work, how do you get work? We went around talking to reps. They couldn’t represent us because we had no professional work. That’s another Catch 22. You get stuck in that loop. Somewhere along the way, somebody sees something — and is willing to take a chance. The more good work that you build up — the greater your network — the more likely you’re to get work. And that’s not in the cards for everybody.

2. The second challenge was: I had zero business skills at that point. I didn’t know what sales or marketing was. I didn’t even know how to cut a legitimate reel. I didn’t know how to put together a proper bid. The people on the other side are used to see a certain bid. When we put together a bid, it looked like one you’d put for a print brochure.

[We had] opportunities or luck: more buyers than sellers. I wouldn’t say that’s a good operating plan. You have to overcome these things today, when you try to build a business. You should build your PR chops, your community; so that you enter into that conversation with leverage and they know who you are.

[-33:34] Allan: Going back to going pro, instead of going out to pursue the work, you have clients coming to you, “We want Blind to do our work”. That’s the place where we want to be, even as individuals, picking and choosing the projects we want to do. That’s the Holy Grail for all of us. 

Chris: The problem is that our industry is full of gatekeepers and you have to get through all of them. Back in the day, there was a rep, then the buyer, then the creative director, the account director — that’s a lot of people who have to say yes to you. Now we live in an age, where we can circumvent the gatekeepers. You can work around them. If you build enough of a reputation — you can get your own work. Basically, the gatekeeper is more inverted now. The art directors see your work long before an opportunity exists in their head. 

If you’re 15 years old, start building your audience today. Start documenting your work, putting it out there. So that by the time you’re done with school, you already have a place. I remember interviewing somebody for our show. She started doing work on Instagram and grew her following. Before she was ready to look for a job, Nike wanted to recruit her. Now, she’s working at Nike. That wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago. That’s the amazing time we live in!

[-30:53] Allan: What are some of the proudest projects that you’re most proud of, with Blind?

Chris: For me personally, I got a lot of the enjoyment out of the music videos, more so than the commercial projects. They felt more like art, you had time to tell a story, have character arcs. For me, working on the music videos for Ravenonettes was some of the most rewarding work: One was called “Black and White” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tGcbI_yDJk), the other — “The Heart of Stone” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYSa_OVj5bk). I love collaborating with artists. You get to see the full potential of your creativity. As a studio, some of the other projects we’ve worked on recently: X-Box, doing a bunch of these spots with the Ayzenberg Group. That’s some of the best work we’ve ever done. We’ve also done music videos for Coldplay, for Cinematic Orchestra, Justin Timberlake. These are things I can tell an average person off the street. That’s kind of cool to have that common touch point!

[-29:13] Allan: Do you want to talk about the whole design process? What are the typical steps from when the project comes in the door — to when it goes out the door.

Chris: It’s a little different than it used to be. Today, the way we begin our projects with clients is we understand their business goals, their business needs, marketing, etc. More importantly, we try to understand who their users are. We develop a strategy with the client. This strategy informs us what shape we need to build: [If] we need to build a website, does it need to have a video? Is it a new identity?

We begin with this discovery, we facilitate it — and then we begin production. Our process has expanded at the top end but production has remained relatively the same: We write words, those words get transferred into images. Then we start to build things out. We [tell the client], “We’re going to peel each layer of the onion with you, so there aren’t any surprises at the end.” We’re not the type of shop that goes away for three months and comes back with the final product. That doesn’t work for us. That’s not the kind of style we like to work in. We want to collaborate with the client We make sure they’re [involved] the entire way, so that you don’t get those later cycle revisions.

[-26:48] Allan: There was one project I did with Buck in New York. Their client was a beer company. While we had aggressive feedback going on, they showed it to the client — and the client turned it around 180. If you aren’t communicating with clients the entire way, it’s a very one-sided thing. That’s not what clients appreciate. They want to have a dialogue. What are you biggest challenges managing creatives?

Chris: I think probably ego. Everybody who is involved wants to put their stamp. If you aren’t aligned, that can be very difficult. They forget that there is a greater good. Like music, it can be abstract. So subjectivity is another big challenge.

[-24:06] Allan: You have such amazing talent at Blind like Matthew Encina. Do you prefer to work with more senior people? Or are you open-ended to bringing new people on?

Chris: To be honest, I really don’t care about experience or age. It’s more about being open-minded and being willing to learn and pitch-in. For us, just speaking selfishly, I like people who are a little more mature and who realize that design isn’t everything; who realize that there is a deadline, a schedule and a budget. If they’re good at doing that — that’s what a professional is. We’re blessed to have a team of people who operate that way.

[-22:54] Allan: Do you have any advice to students who are just coming out of school and looking to stand out?

Chris: My generic advice is be selective about who you want to work for: Go out there and look for those people, study their work; look back at your work and do everything in your power to close the gap.

[-22:22] Allan: That’s a really solid advice — and one I haven’t heard before. I was curious what your interpretation of branding it. Do you think it’s important for all artists to have that? 

Chris: One hundred percent! Some people have the idea that the best art should win. In the ideal world, that should be the case. First of all, “best” and “art” are two subjective things. Your community needs to know what your beliefs and values are. So you need to make sure that they energy you’re throwing out there — that brand that you’ve created — what that says about you and how you want to present that to the world. A lot of people live vicariously through their heroes. Aaron Draplin is a designer we’ve had on our show. He is a successful designer because he is famous. He is not famous because he is a successful designer. I hope that make sense to people. Because he’s built a following around what he does, the quality of the work he has to produce isn’t judged in the same way.

Here is a metaphor for you: Water is readily available in first world countries. It can come from the sky and be free. Yet, there are companies that can charge you more per gallon than gasoline. If you pay careful attention to the branding on each package, it says something different about different people. Water is a commodity. If you present your portfolio, you’re water. What you need to do is wrap that water in a package that tells your story. That’s when water becomes [expensive].

[-19:40] Allan: I love that! It’s so true. It’s all perceptive value. The more expensive must be the better product. That’s how we perceive things around us. We allow people to put impressions on us. Most people don’t think that way. They think: “If I do good work, I will be successful.” And that’s never the case.

Chris: People can hire people that they’re aware of. You can do the world’s best work (if that’s possible, objectively). But if you’re in a cave and no one knows you, they’re hire the second, forth, fifth best. That’s why it’s important to build your brand, your community and tell your story. People hire people they know.

[-17:49] Allan: I fucking love that! That’s exactly what I’ve always said. You can be the best artist on the planet; but if no one knows who you are, how can they hire you? It doesn’t matter if you’re better than the other person — but the other person is more accessible, they will hire that other person.

Chris: Agreed!

[-17:14] Allan: One thing I’m remembering is that you stay so busy at both Blind and other things as well. You do a lot of talks. You have a book too, right?

Chris: I’m working on it. We have our hands in a lot of different things, Allan. We’re up to 400 videos on YouTube. We’ve launched half a dozen courses by now. We’re just making stuff happen all the time. I’m working on two books: a topography manual and one on having a creative mindset.

[-16:26] Allan: How do you stay focused in terms of the direction you want to take your company? How do you stay on point?

Chris: I think it’s about management and being able to hire a mature team. I have some pretty amazing people here. I hire them, train them and let them do what they do. I’m the kind of a Creative Director who wants for people to have authorship of their work. We have an open door policy and they can come to me if they’re stuck. I think that makes for a better work environment. But you do have to hire good people that you trust and who trust you. That’s one way I can run the company and do other things. I also have good business people, like the Executive Producer Scott Rothstein. I like to hire smart people who are well meaning; and create a safe space to do what they do. I eliminate the fear of being fired for making a mistake. We all make mistakes all the time. My only deal breaker is pretending you didn’t make a mistake or not learning from it.

[-13:56] Allan: It’s important to realize that failure is part of growth. If you aren’t going to fail, you aren’t going to learn. It’s important to push past your comfort zone. In terms of customer experience, do you do anything unique? 

Chris: I think of the customer through the entire experience: from the moment they call you for the first time, to the moment the project is delivered and the final invoice has been paid. It’s important to be aware of business. Apply that to the entire user journey. How did they find you? Why did they return?

– Having a parking space with their name.

– Having a welcome screen with their name.

– Sitting down with them and talk about why they want to do this.

– Helping them understand their user base.

In that way, we are unique. Our offering is different. We spend a lot of time thinking about the why. The only way we can have a real dialogue is to sit down with our clients.

[-10:44] Allan: Do you have any examples of clients that you’ve gone through an experience like this, with?

Chris: This happens mostly with the client-direct work that we do. I don’t mean mom-and-pop’s bakery stores. I’m talking about large companies that have revenue of several million dollars. They just don’t need to go to an agency but want that same level of creativity. I give you one example: There is a large commercial developer in Santa Monica. They came into the meeting saying they needed a fancy website and all these things. We did the user profiles and discovered that they were very affluent. I asked the chief technology officer, “How many people go to your website?” “227 total.” So building this expensive website wasn’t as important as we thought. Through that discovery session, we discovered that we were overbuilding something nobody was going to go to. And that’s a classic mistake.

[-08:16] Allan: That’s awesome! I love everything you’re saying. Just to wrap things up, what’s the way you jump on trends. Do you ever have you finger on the pulse of new technologies or platforms, like VR?

Chris: Yes and no. I think I’d rather focus on cultural trends. I’m not an early adopter. The next big thing [right now] is VR. I have yet to see a great film using augmented reality. I do pay a lot of attention to cultural trends, however. Most people get their information online. That’s what tv companies can’t figure out. What happens to the commercial? When I subscribe to Netflix, I shouldn’t have to watch commercials. That became a solid pivot for our company: We’ve spent 18 years of our company’s history catering to commercials and music videos — to doing branding consulting. That became a massive change for us. So now 60-70% of our work comes from client-direct work, not agency work. We still do it and love it. But if that 60% wasn’t there, we would be doing lay-off. Since we were paying attention, I was able to study it and train my guys. Two of my lead creatives are out in Utah right now, running strategy work.

[-04:33] Allan: What are some examples of these strategies that you specialize in?

Chris: We’re able to see a connection between a telephone and a river and bring those two together. What we do is sit down with our clients and listen to whatever we need to solve. If you talk to the client, some things start bubbling up to the surface.

[-02:59] Allan: I want to thank you for doing this! It’s been really great to get your insight! Clearly Blind has an amazing talent there and it’s steered by someone with a vision. If anyone wanted to find out more about Blind, where can they go?

Chris: You can find more info on our website: www.Blind.com. We do have both a Facebook and an Instagram account.

 

I want to thank Chris for taking the time to chat! I got a lot out of this Episode. I love some of the quotes from him: “Every once in a while, we need a champion in our lives, to really help make space for us and to allow us to explore what we want to become.”

I will be interviewing director Ryan Connolly soon. I am excited to have a lot more creative in the future.

Please leave a review on iTunes. Thank you!

Rock on!

 

1 Comment

  1. Sav says:

    Amazing guest/interview.

    Cheers,
    -Sav

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