So you always trying to kind of like, you have this inner artist and you pulling going I want to do this, but this is what they need me to do. And this is what I need to do for the brand. So for me, it was being able to understand that path and know that not every great idea is going to stay up on the wall.
Not every great idea is going to see the light of day, but that’s where understanding rejection can make you stronger as an artist and stronger as a person because you really find ways to sell your work through. You know, I always tell a lot of team members and young people coming up in this business is that you can create any great idea.
The next great idea can be created by you, but it’s also your job to make sure that other people see the greatness in that. So being able to sell your work through, eloquently talk about it, show people the reasons why this is the right thing. So there’s the, the creation of it, but then there’s also the art of selling.
Mango: So can you kind of take us through you know, after graduating Syracuse and starting in the real world, you know, how was it kind of going from I kind of enjoy doing this to oh, now I actually get paid to do this now. Now it can kind of gets real. How was that kind of translation?
Brian: It was, it was fun. You know, you, you always, I think at that first job, you create memories that, that lasts throughout, you really find those people in your career that shape who you are and what you want to be, those mentors, you know, you think about them, you hold those things that they’ve taught you throughout, and you’ve hopefully teach that to other people as well.
So for me, it was exciting because I was doing what I, what I thought I wanted to do. And I got to do it around people who were exciting, just as creative as I was. So it felt like you you’ve become part of something that it’s like finding your home, your new home and your next, your next path. Cause you’re sort of like when you’re leaving college and you start a new job, you’re like out on your own.
I moved down to New Jersey and to Princeton from upstate New York. So I didn’t know anybody. I was on my own. I took a job and a chance and it shaped everything about who I am.
Mango: How’d you end up in Princeton.
Brian: There was I, I started, I took a job at MRM, in Princeton, out of school. I was destined to not go home. I was not going to be the kid who, who goes home and lives with his parents, trying to figure out what he’s doing. So I took a chance and I, and I moved down to Princeton and was working at MRM, for a little while before moving into another.
Mango: I agree with you. I’m not going home. Unfortunately, I did go home for about a year and a half because living in New York city is quite expensive. As we all know, or at least people on this working in advertising and marketing, it’s a rollercoaster industry, there’s always ups and downs and parts where you failed or you succeed and you’re elated.
I always like to hear about a point where you failed that lesson learned from that, you know, where was there a point early on your career where you thought your idea was, I’ll use an old term, the bee’s knees, and unfortunately the client wasn’t seeing it and completely changed it where you might have to, you know, to adjust the way you, you worked, I guess, in some ways.
Brian: Yeah. And, you know, I might, I might alter this answer a little bit because I think it was a great lesson for me, there was a portion of, of my young career, where I got involved with pitches. And, you know, I was asked to be on a pitch for a global piece of business and we had a new business procedure and we were going through it all and we were creating our work and we got into the prep mode where, you know, its late nights, lots of Chinese food and pizza, and you’re sitting in a room prepping, going through your rehearsal.
And I had the workup on the wall and I kept talking about what I did. I said, I chose to do this because of this reason. And I did this. And after about a minute or two, the president at the time stopped everything. I’m, I’m standing up on my own. He stopped. He said, stop. You did not do anything. We did it. And that was the moment where I felt very embarrassed, obviously, because I didn’t know the difference, but at that moment it was like ingrained in me that this is not like a me thing.
This is not a singular thing. This is a team; we’re creating work together. And that moment has really like sat with me because I think that’s the greatness of being a part of a good organization and a great team is that we all create the great idea together, and we all are, have kind of a part of that. So that moment was a learning moment for me, for sure. But it has sat with me since then.
Mango: That’s interesting cause as you probably know, there is always an assumption when you get to a level, especially creative and creative directors, you know, there’s an ego that comes with that, right? You’re the best, you know, you knew everything. So there is probably a lot of that I, that fits in. But I appreciate your thinking where it, you know, it creates, it’s a team that makes it, it’s not an individual.
Derek: I love that that lesson, because it brings me to a question around, how do you maintain your own identity? You know, as a designer, you know, I’m reading in your bio where you say you believe in the old school, a school where that’s been done before never existed. So there seems to be a theme where, you know, you said, where every idea was original and white space was celebrated. So how do you, as you, you know, multiple projects over your career is as you continue to move into spaces where you work across multiple clients, different creative approaches that you still maintain that that touch of Brian that is really core foundational to, you know, your creative style.
Brian: You learn that through falling a couple of times, and losing your way a little bit where you feel sometimes after a while at, at different jobs, you feel that you have lost your way and you’ve lost your identity in what you believe in, because you’re feel that you’re maybe answering, you know, to strictly to what’s being told, you know, you’re just kind of going through a specific rhythm of things and not really putting the passion back and stuff.
So for me, finding my way and making sure that my stamp was on things became apparent when I started to kind of reignite passions of mine outside of work, that had still had to do with art, still had to do with design. Some people paint, some people do different things or draw, but it’s important to have those hobbies and to create art at all times because that’s where the passion comes from.
And that’s really from a day-to-day perspective at our jobs, that’s really all you can really push someone to do is just have the passion behind it, because with passion comes identity and uniqueness. And I think that’s where finding your way is, is it’s evident is because you’re putting your own passion into it.
Mango: Can you talk about using that creativity and art into cooking? Cause I read that you were a big foodie and enjoyed cooking. So is that one of your passions that, you know, helps kind of move forward?
Brian: Absolutely. You know, it’s funny, anyone who’s worked with me in the past knows that I will incorporate a food analogy into work at any point in any day. the first, the first one for me has always been Mise en place, you know, Mise en place is a cooking term with everything in its place, where you literally chop up prep all your ingredients before you cook.
Because once you start cooking, you need to cook clean, and if you cook messy, your product is going to taste messy. Your product is going to be bad in the end. So for me, I translate that mentality into everything that we do from a creative perspective, because it’s about setting ourselves up, the strategy of things, making sure our insights are there. Making sure all of our ingredients for the tactics are out, you know, what do we need to set ourselves up for success?
So when someone starts designing or writing or concepting, that end product becomes that much better, because all you’re doing is focusing on that. You’re not worried about, I don’t, I don’t know what our insight is. I don’t have a USP. I don’t all these different things that is hindering you from actually doing the work, are now out of the way because of that. but food analogies run deep in my business.
Mango: I love it. And now I’m starving.
Derek: And then, all right. I was going to ask him you know, you’re a dad, you’re a husband, you’re a chef, I mean, come on, you got so many things going on. What is the most requested dish in your family?
Brian: Oh I have two young boys. And so their thing is an egg sandwich. I mean, it seems basic, but. To me, you can elevate it really easily. You know, it’s, it’s something that cooking an egg is, it takes a lot of art form. There’s a lot of different forms of it. There’s a lot of different preferences, you know, if, if I made you on Derek and you one Mango, they’d be totally different and you might not like the way I make it or how your egg is done. So there’s a lot of like uniqueness and personal identity to an egg sandwich.
Mango: I do love that, cause that’s a big debate. Cause I grew up in Long Island and an egg sandwich is very different on long island than most places in the world, so,
Brian: I have to say one thing that that to me is a no-no and might not be a no-no with other people is an egg sandwich on a biscuit. It just falls apart. You have to have some to the bread, to hold up the rest of this, like gooey eggy, cheesy sandwich.
Derek: My favorite is a croissant. Give me a croissant
Brian: Yeah. And an egg sandwich Is kind of like a, what some people on this Talk West podcast might not understand as a hoagie, you know, up here, they call it a me where I come from in New York. It’s a sub it’s all kinds of things. So that, that is one of those things too. That is kind of unique to different areas.
Derek: So what, so, you know, you, you started as a new creative director here at Walk West. What excites you about this, this new chapter in this new role that you are embarking on?
Brian: You guys. Like the team, the team that’s here. I’m just excited to be able to join a company that, has everything there, you know, the, the creative team that’s there, all the different members, you know, the, the existing clients that we have, it’s a really exciting time to put a refocus on creative and to be able to offer something to our clients and to new clients that that is truly unique in this space.
Mango: I think we all could second that one. I guess personally, what are you, what are you looking forward to joining the team or learning, or kind of growing, growing yourself?
Brian: I think the thing I’m most excited for is to have some variety in my experience, you know, I’ve spent 15 plus years in the healthcare space, working on launch products within different arenas. You know, it’s, it’s funny as a creative in the pharma space, when you introduce yourself and you go through some of the brands that you work on, I always say that creatives are method actors, where we get so deep into the strategy of whatever you’re working on, that you almost start to feel like you have the condition that you’re working on.
So I always tell people that, you know, I’ve had, I’ve had overactive bladder, I’ve had low testosterone. I struggled with cow’s milk intolerance as an infant and all these different things, because you, you put so much of yourself as a creative into whatever you’re working on. I’m excited to work on some things that aren’t, you know, the things that I’ve worked on in the past.
They’re, they’re new, they’re different. They are fresh. And I think it’s a breath that, that we all needed
Derek: It reminds me of what you mentioned earlier, when you said you, your, your early days at Syracuse, when you had all these options from a creative perspective to try things out. And so being able to service clients across multiple industries and, you know, what does creative direction look like for those, you know, and, and being able to really tap into all of your skills that you bring to the table setting.
Brian: yeah, yeah. We’re all, we’re all on a journey and we’re all trying to figure our way while on that journey and every experience that we have helps shape that. And this experience that’s fresh and new and kind of going back to my roots is something that, that, that I needed on my journey because it’s, it’s part of where I think I’m going.
Derek: Nice. Nice. Well, you know, I have one more question for you. and just to, you know, to help those who are listening, what advice would you provide? So as, as listeners may be, you know, navigating their own journeys and they’re trying to figure out what, you know, what their next thing may be, or if they should continue to move down the path that they’re on, you know, what, what advice would you share with them as you know, they continue to navigate this, this career path in life?
Brian: I’d say be a sponge, you know, soak up everything around you. Ask questions, ask why, but, you know, being, being a sponge to me is like seeing different culture and going to different, experiences or listening to different music. You know, art is inspired by everything around you. And I think by not closing yourself off and opening yourself up. You experience new things that you maybe wouldn’t have done before, and it keeps driving passion and creativity in the right direction.
Derek: Hey, I couldn’t say it better. I’m going to take this. I’m going to take that advice for myself as well.
Brian: I should too.
Mango: I have one last question. Are your kids into art?
Brian: Yeah. And so I, I have my older ten-year-old he’s in fourth grade and he’s always been, you know, drawing these, these amorphic characters, you know, with like six arms and a weird looking head and stuff, but he’s, but lately he’s been getting into typography. And he doesn’t know what it is. Like we talk about it, you know, he’ll write something out and he’ll make it 3d.
And we’ll talk about, you know, a font, you know, a style of font, whether it’s serif font or a sanserif for, you know, what typography is. So for me, my best moment with my kids, as far as business goes, was because of the pandemic, and right in the beginning of the pandemic, it was, we were all home. We weren’t sure what to do.
And my wife and I thought of an idea where we would create a restaurant in our house and we would allow our kids to pick what kind of restaurant it was. We would then have them name it, and we would then sit down, behind my computer with them and design the logo. And then with that logo, we would then make a menu.
We’d create all the options, and then my wife and I literally went outside and we rang the doorbell and they opened the door and they welcomed us into Bandana Boys Pizza. So we had a little pizzeria in our house. We created a logo around it. We had a menu, and really got them into not only like the process of, of, let’s say a restaurant and food and how it’s created and all the work that goes into it.
But then also like the process of creating something from nothing, because that’s the hardest thing as a creative is I call it the blank page effect where in the beginning you just stare at something and there’s nothing. And by the end of it, when you’re done and all the work is put into it, there’s this beautiful product that comes out at the end.
The hardest thing is to get there. So getting over those humps where you feel like you have, you’ve hit a wall or something like that. So really kind of using tools along the way to inspire yourself, to riff off of ideas and to keep pushing. Thinking, I think was the fun process that they got to see from the idea of like, what do you want to do? And then ultimately sitting down and enjoying a pizza.
Mango: That’s excellent.
Derek: I know, right. I’m like, dang. I should have thought of that.
Brian: We’ve done it a couple of times, like this ongoing thing where, you know, every now and again, we’ll, we’ll open up Bandana Boys, but now, you know, with, with everything happening, it’s bringing more people in friends and family. So it’s become more than, than we thought it was in the beginning, which is really fun.
Derek: That’s awesome.
Brian: That’s a big, big plug for Bandana Boys Pizza.
Mango: look at that.
Derek: Coming to the living room near you.
Brian: Yes, exactly. Served by children with dirty hands. No, I’m kidding.
Mango: Hey, atm least they’re working, you can’t get any service out here. So.
Brian: It’s true. It’s true that the service was decent at best.
Derek: Awesome. Awesome. Well, Brian, you know, we definitely are excited to, you know, of course get to work with you every day, but also just to, to hear your story, your journey, I’m allowed the great, valuable insights that you’ve shared with us today. It’s given me a greater appreciation for, for you and all that you bring to the table.
So definitely want to thank you for your sharing so openly and, I’m sure it’s going to impact and, and, and help someone who listens to this episode of Talk West. So thank you again for taking time out of your day and, and sowing into whoever listens.
Brian: Thanks man. This was, this is very therapeutic. I appreciate it as well. So I mean, I’m excited for the future. I’m excited for what we can do. I, I can’t wait. It’s going to be awesome.
Derek: Well, you heard it first here. Talk West that’s Brian Phillips, new creative director here at Walk West. We are thanking you for tuning in sharing this podcast with someone else. If you love what you heard comment, give us five stars. That’s the least you can do now, but give us five stars and, and give us a comment.
What, what, what you loved about the conversation, what you took away, feel free to share. And then until next time, this is Talk West Podcast.