#FridayForum: Blair Dempster

Blair Dempster is an interesting guy…

If you were at #fridayforum, you get that joke. If you weren’t, well, I’ll tell you when you’re older.

Dempster is anything but interesting. He’s humbly charismatic, modestly boastful and a plethora of other delicious contradictions. He drops the realness, with cred to back it up. –> Started in the Circus now he there (Jack Morton). Started in the Circus now he run a team there (He’s an Associate Creative Director) <– I commissioned Drake for that.

So yes, Dempster officially started his creative career at The Circus. Step one complete. He began as a copywriter, but “then something unexpected happened.” The all mighty Sylvia said he would be “wasting his talents” if he continued as a copywriter. For those of you who don’t get it, that would be like God herself telling you “yeah, you could be a decent human being, but wouldn’t you rather be a Saint?” So he graduated as a Designer.

Dempster was kind enough to share 5 tidbits of info from 3 sections of his life as a creative. Once again, if you didn’t go to #fridayforum, here are your Cliff’s Notes (though I am going to explain his points with anecdotes related to my own personal experience and/or belief so if you are quizzed, I promise you will fail.):

Circus Lessons

Being uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I have to say, aside from physical discomfort, I very rarely feel “uncomfortable.” I think it has a lot to do with my (sorry, Grandma) experience taking acid. It was vivid and visceral and beautiful and taught me that even in moments of deep and painful fear, there is beauty to be seen. I live by that mantra and have never regretted any sight, sound, taste, touch or scent. Pushing the limits and boundaries of our existence is what makes us human. Creativity would be stifled and art bland if we didn’t make ourselves a little “uncomfortable” every once in a while.

Fuck “interesting.” Get it now? Saying something is “interesting” is like saying a person “seems nice.” It’s a complete cop-out. It doesn’t mean shit. Find a new adjective, people.

If you’re not excited, no one else will be. I learned this in my high school drama class when I was 16. We were at the end of our musical theatre unit in which we had all been assigned various musical numbers to work on in small groups. Mine was “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” from the 1949 smash hit South Pacific. Yes, it’s just as awful as it sounds. I was singing back up, though at the time I was convinced I could sing lead. When we were finished performing my teacher, Mr. Herbert, said “Casey, you were off-key the entire time, but you sang with such charismatic energy that I didn’t even care!” Don’t apologize for your work. Stand by it, stand up for it, love it, and there will be others that will love it right along with you. Even if you’re off-key.

Less is more. I mean… duh.

Own your happy accidents. When I was at University of Iowa, I took a lot of writing classes. In one such class, poetry to be specific, I went to see my TA during office hours to get his feedback on a couple of poems I had written outside of class. He was looking over one and said “oh wow, this is great, I love this ‘pre-formed moans’ line.” Turns out I had misspelled “performed.” He will never know. Unless he reads this. Chances are slim.

First Job Lessons

Don’t over-look the “fly overs.” There are a lot of amazing agencies that live in smaller cities in between the saturated “Ad Capitols.” Agencies that will allow you to do creative, provocative, challenging, cutting-edge stuff. Agencies that will help you grow your book and your reputation. LA, NY, CHICAGO… psssshhhh. Overrated. Except Chicago. Chicago’s the best.

Build a book with work you love. That is, work that you are excited about. Because if you don’t love it, how the hell any body else gonna love it? (Yes, I am paraphrasing RuPaul. Get at me.)

The best person for the job doesn’t always get hired. Truth Bomb. This is a business of people. Be likeable, be memorable, do great work and then do something different. What can you bring to the table besides your book? People get hired. Not books.

It’s not you. It’s me. Just because an agency doesn’t hire you, doesn’t mean they don’t want to. There are a lot of other factors that go beyond whether or not they like you or your work. Mostly money.

Informational interviews are your best friend. If I have to explain this… you need to set one up.

Professional Creative Lessons

We’re not artists. Truth Bomb numero dos. That is a harsh reality that we all need to embrace. Be an artist outside your agency. Develop your film, paint your canvases, write your words, sculpt your clay. Bottom line, we are sales people. What we are selling should be bigger and better and more badass than anything out there, and if we do it right, and we do it well, we have the opportunity to become artists, but that is not what we inherently are by trade.

Creativity is part of being human. Just by being alive and waking up everyday and putting on freakin clothes in the morning we are creative. We are chosing to dress, act, play, interact in certain ways. Some more carefully than others. Our craft is about understanding that creativity and channeling it into something relatable and unique.

There are no new ideas. By virtue of the fact that I am writing this blog right now and putting my spin/personality onto a presentation that was already given I am illustrating this point.

Not all agencies focus on creativity. Thrice Bombed by the Truth. It’s up to you to decide what kind of work you want to do and to find the right agency that supports that work.

There are lots of ways to “refresh” your creativity. Read my Creative Constipation post for jumping off points.

Welp. I think that about sums it up. Great #FridayForum as always. Stay sassy, y’all!

Aaannnnd #selfie (I really need to get better at these.)

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