The life and times of Copywriter, Steve Taylor.
Anyone outside of #Austin ever tried this? It’s a big deal here and I can’t figure out why. #topochico #water #Texas
It’s pretty great to have a friend who happens to work for a local event-marketing firm. Thanks to her, I’m getting a true crash course in the city’s culture—from seeing the incredibly diverse acts of Austin’s music scene to experiencing, first hand, the joy that is the local comedy community. This month is shaping up much differently than I had expected, that’s for sure.
As I mentioned last week, musically, Austin reminds me a lot of Memphis. From small bands playing in corner bars to national acts taking the stage at venues such as Austin City Limits Live, you can’t walk two feet without hearing a melody of some kind. The only difference it that Memphis is about keeping the past alive and celebrating the sounds that helped shape blues, jazz and rock n’ roll. Here in Austin, they want to push the envelope and create new sounds that no one has ever heard. I guess that’s why people flock from all over to attend festivals like ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest and SXSW.
As for the rest of the city’s culture, I couldn’t think of a way to accurately explain it. Then, over the weekend, I was invited to a screening of Travel Channel‘s, “Underground BBQ Challenge”. It was an Austin-centric episode that pitted David Rodriguez—local chef and punk rocker—against a team of more traditional “Texas cowboys”. I thought it was a great display that really summarized Austin’s personality, compared to that of the rest of state. Take for instance that David cooked his briskets on a bunch of borrowed grills and smokers, while the other team utilized a range of expensive cabinets, ovens and electronics. That alone says a lot, but in the end, David’s team won because of their passion, drive and creativity.
That’s the kind of place Austin is. They do more with less. They find ways to re-use, reinvent and revitalize things that most people would either toss aside or simply forget about. Honestly, there’s just something really inspiring about being around artisans, who are pushing the envelope of what they can accomplish on tight deadlines and tighter budgets. I’m not sure if it’s something in the water, but everyone I’ve met here is of a similar ilk. I guess that’s why they say about 70 people are moving here every single day.
Oh and for those wondering—yes—David’s brisket was out of this world and was hands down the best BBQ I’ve ever had.
Just… #yardart #streetart #art #Austin #letters #wordsofwisdom
The folks at @97dwest gave me some #Playdough on my first day. So, naturally, I made a penguin. #Austin #toys #tgaa #kidstuff #nofilter
As I mentioned before, 97 Degrees West is the smallest agency I’ll be visiting on #TGAA. While it took me a few days to acclimate to the vastly different environment, I have to admit that things are going rather well here. Honestly, I almost forgot just how nimble and accommodating a small agency could be. For instance, there’s a lot less red tape to wade through when it comes to filling out paperwork and getting paid on time. After 10 months on the road, I can’t tell you how boring it is to fill out page after page, each and every month. I’ll certainly be glad when that part is over and done with.
Another distinct advantage smaller agencies have is their ability to hire contractors with extremely specific skill sets. While 97 Degrees West maintains a great in-house team, they also have a vetted list of niche creatives on-call, which makes them highly flexible and competitive with just about any project. If, for instance, they needed someone highly qualified in After Effects, they always have a trustworthy candidate at the ready. In fact, that’s how I first came across 97 Degrees West—oras they were known at the time, Blue Shoe Spoon Bend. I found myself on their shortlist of Copywriters and from time to time, they’d shoot me over some rather fun freelance work. That’s why I always encourage younger creatives to reach out to smaller shops. It’s easier to get in touch with an actual person and they tend to be more open to giving people a try.
This week, I also had the opportunity to take part in two great Q&A sessions. The first was with a company my friend works at, Appspire.me. They invited me in to chat about my travels and field a couple questions from the team. It was a great time from beginning to end. Then, for the second time on my journey, I was a featured guest in Professor Jay Newell’s Wednesday Wake Up Call series at the University of Iowa. I had a great time talking about #TGAA and thankfully, my webcam decided to work this time. In the Spring, students were forced to stare at my weird selfie for half an hour, because Skype wasn’t being cooperative. I truly want to thank everyone involved, but most of all, I’d like to thank Postano for sponsoring both of these events, as well as all of my Q&A sessions going forward. It’s absolutely amazing to have them onboard for the project.
If anyone comes looking, this is where they’ll find me. #streetart #sidewalkart #Austin #astronomy #Jupiter
This weekend, I discovered UT tailgating and it was pretty unreal. As someone who lived off-campus during his college career, this is something completely new to me. But, wow did I have an absolute blast. I’m not sure if every school has a pre-game event of similar scale, but I couldn’t help but stand in awe of how many blocks it spanned. There were even sponsored tents from the likes of Monster Energy, Southern Comfort and Bud Lite. If you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it. I mean… free booze, beads and BBQ? Count me in for next weekend’s festivities.
Anyway, a week in and I’m already getting the sense that things operate a lot differently down here in Austin. While I still have a ways to go in figuring out why, I have come to notice a few things that make this place one of a kind. First off, the city itself contains different elements that remind me of many of the other stops I’ve already hit. The atmosphere is a lot like Memphis; the architecture, a little New Orleans; the nighttime weather feels like Charlotte; and the bar-lined 6th Street harkens back to the likes of Bourbon and Beale Street.
It’s more than that though. Even the more casual things I’ve become used to are different down here. Take food trucks for instance. Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to checking Twitter for my favorite mobile eateries’ daily locations. However, here in Austin, the food trucks have taken up permanent residence in the abandoned corners and parking lots of the area. They never relocate and instead they build up their spaces with tents, lights, benches and a slew of decorations in an attempt to grab attention. And these truck-sized restaurants aren’t regulated to certain parts of the city either. You can find them almost anywhere, usually filled with small crowds or long lines depending on the time of day.
Aside from the aesthetics, the people here seem to operate on a much differently wave length as well. While they maintain the charm and hospitality you’d expect in the south, they also have a more carefree air about them. Things move a bit slower. People breathe a little easier. Everyone seemingly wants to have a good time and they don’t let labels get in the way of that. Where in other cities, you’d know certain places as ‘the college bar’ or the ‘local joint,’ establishments here seem to welcome people from all walks of life. Yet, in the end, every place still maintains this ‘rough around the edges’ sort of feel, regardless of their patrons. Really, the only two categories they seem to have are ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
With four weeks to go, I’m really excited to uncover even more ways Austin is different. Although, I will say, I was absolutely right about the weather. I’m not a fan of the heat and as expected, I’ve already developed a love/hate relationship with this city as a result.
It’s only my second day here at 97 Degrees West and I can already tell I’m in for a great experience—or at the very least, a vastly different one. Located in a repurposed house on the city’s west side, 97 Degrees West has the distinct honor of being the smallest agency I’ll visit on #TGAA. I know some might think ‘small’ is a bad word in this business, but I certainly don’t. I’m actually really excited to see how they’re able to produce such big work with such a small core team. After all, one of my goals with this project was to deliver a view of agencies from all walks of life; all shapes and sizes. Leave no stone unturned, as they say.
As for the fine folks who inhabit 97 Degrees West, they’re all pretty incredible. I’m not sure if it’s the home-like ambiance or the radiant sunshine beaming it’s way through my window, but things here just seem a bit happier. Every single person greeted me with a smile when I first arrived and they were more than eager to throw me right into the mix.
One really interesting tidbit of news out this agency is that there’s another Kent State University graduate here. Throughout my travels, I’ve meet people from my hometown, from Cleveland and from other participating agencies, but this is the first time I’ve met someone from my alma mater. I have a feeling it won’t be too long before we start delving into some entertaining stories about the Robin Hood Inn, 101 Bottles of Beer and the Rathskeller (those are all KSU references, for those wondering).
All in all, I’m excited to see what this month has in store for me. Perhaps this is perfect timing too. As I feel myself missing home more and more, it seems rather appropriate that I’ll be spending my days inside an actual home for the next month.
“An artist of any sort… you must not put down the man before you. It’s like putting down the guy who built the ladder you’re standing on. Without him, you’re standing on the floor. With him, naturally you’re above him, because he’s holding you on his shoulders. You devour his stuff. You eat it up. And then you move one step higher. A lot of cartoonists, I’ll take all the originality they’ve got, and all their ideas, and swallow them, and then I’ll try to move one step further. That doesn’t mean I could’ve done it without their influence or their help. Because, eventually, some guy’s going to be standing on my shoulders…”
Saw this great band open for #LittleDragon last night at #ACLLive. They’re called #OctopusProject. Check um out.