Beyond the LinkedIn Profile: Brian Phillips, Walk West VP, Creative Director

Brian Phillips is the new creative director and VP at Walk West. Today he talks about why he felt like an outcast growing up, and how we can convert big ideas into business success.

Hosted by Derek Ross and Mike Manganillo, Talk West delivers real conversations with business professionals, as they share their journey and how it shaped their career path.


Derek: What’s going on, everybody. Welcome to the Talk West Podcast. Let’s face it, most of us have traveled a very different path to get to where we are today professionally. Talk West is a podcast, delivering real conversations with people who just so happen to be business professionals, as they share their journey and how it shaped their career path.

These conversations are designed to connect us and provide valuable insights and knowledge on how we continue to grow professionally and personally in our careers in life. A business professional is part of who we are, but it’s not all of who we are, and those are the stories we’ll be sharing and the conversations we’ll be delivering on the Talk West Podcast. So join us today as we go behind the LinkedIn profile and get to know our guests a little bit. 

So today’s guest is a new addition to the Walk West family. Brian Phillips is our new creative director and we are excited to dive into his career path as well as some of his personal journeys to get to where he is today. What’s up a Brian, welcome to the conversation. 

Brian: Thanks for having me. I appreciate you calling me at business professional. I don’t know if I’ve ever been called that before.

Mango: You do work in a creative space so I could see that.

Derek: Right, right. Yeah, So Brian, tell us a little bit about yourself. I know that question is probably something that you get often, but definitely want to know a little bit more about you. I love your, your website and the bio there. I felt like when I read it, I got a, a sense of who Brian is, before the creative director. So let the audience know a little bit more about you.

Brian: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I am a creative director by trade. you know, that’s, that’s, what’s on my LinkedIn, but to go beyond that a little bit. I am a branding fanatic. For me, branding is everything. It’s what surrounds us from the moment that we wake up to the moment that we go to sleep. We’re surrounded by brands. And for me, my background has really built me. 

My background has really helped me build those brands that I touch every day. So I’ve really spent a fair amount of my experience and expertise in the pharmaceutical arena, working on launch brands, working on OTC and DTC brands. But for me, a good idea and a good brand transcends the industry that it’s in. I love chasing that next big idea and really being a part of that, creating something with a team like we have at Walk West. 

Mango: So talking about branding, I do have a very important question. I think that most people will ask based on your name. Are you related to anybody in the group Wilson Phillips?

Brian: Yes and no. No.

Mango: You have a favorite of the sisters?

Derek: Right. 

Brian: It’s definitely Wilson. Come on. I mean, that’s no question. You know, it, it, you always get growing up with a very normal name like myself, you always grow up with the, the light bulbs and the screwdrivers and the Wilson Phillips jokes. So I’m, I’m fully ready for all of them that come forward. 

Derek: Nice. Nice. Love it. So, so Brian, so you’re creative director. You’ve been a creative director for 15 plus years now. So let’s go back, right, so when you were younger, like when did You recognize that you had a love for creativity? Like, were you always, you know, drawing where you, you know the one that people used to come to help their pictures look great? Like what, what was that like for you early on? 

Brian: You know what it’s, it’s funny. There’s a great story about imagination and creativity. And some people have said that it’s not, it’s not someone like me who has learned to become creative or has learned to become imaginative. We’re all born that way. We’re all born just as creative as the next person.

But what happens is over time as you get older, you are like built to unlearn to be creative because you have to follow rules, you have chores, you have all these different things. So growing up for me, you know, I look at like my parents and my siblings and the environment that I grew up in, they really fostered being creative and being artistic.

My grandmother was a painter. It was for me, something that was important in my family to express yourself artistically. So I was able to really keep that creative bug inside of me throughout, you know, and you still have to do all those things that, you know, life tries really hard to pull that creativity out of you, you know, school following rules for homework, like all those different things.

I had a teacher once for seventh grade social studies, I had finished the test. I’d handed it in. Everything was fine on it, but he gave, he subtracted 20 points because I doodled on the paper. said, doodling will get you nowhere. And I remember that all the way through, cause doodling has got me everywhere. It’s exactly where I am today.

So for me, it was being strong about following a path of creativity and being artistic, and just asking questions, you know, I think my parents were probably really annoyed with me at some point when all I would do is just ask why, because I wanted to know there was a, there’s always a deeper reason behind something and, and being creative you try to uncover that because you want to tell stories. So I just kept asking him why, nonstop.

Mango: Where are you one of those kids that would draw on the walls everywhere and get in trouble as well?

Brian: Of course, even in, I have two young boys, so it’s payback now because they do the same exact thing. 

Mango: when you were young, was there any pieces of like, you know, cause you were, you, you were an art director, right? So a background in kind of drawing and sketching and stuff like that. Was there anything, you know, kind of in high school or anything that you drew or produced that are like, oh man, I’m actually pretty good.

Brian: It was in about, probably junior and senior year of high school, in art classes when I really realized that this was something that made me a little bit different, and I was okay. I was okay with that. I didn’t know how to translate it to college. I think that was my difficulty was I had, I have an older sister, who’s a math teacher. I have a younger sister who was a history major and also has an economics degree. And for me, I felt like a little bit like the outcast. So I didn’t really know how that translated to school into what I was supposed to do in life.

So, you know, I would always tell my mom that I wanted to go to vocational school. She’s like, you’re not going to vocational school. And so I ended up, you know, it was the best path I could have taken. I ended up at Syracuse University in the art school and they provided a program where you could explore everything during your freshman year. So that was drawing, 2d drawing, 3d drawing, industrial design, studio design, graphic design, and you’ve got to explore all these different forms of art. And then sophomore year, you declared your major. So you got to sort of try things out. 

And that’s where I almost went from art to graphic design, you know, from drawing to graphic design, and really found how a computer can ultimately, you know, tell a different story as far as art goes.

Derek: that actually brings me to the next question, because, you know, being able to try all of those different types of art forms, right, to really find what really resonates with you and your creative skills and, and kind of how you want to be seen or known, you know, from a, from a design or art perspective, how was it? Because on your bio, you say, you know, I thrive on rejection. So how was, you know, as you were getting to know more about your creative style and what that looked like, how did rejection play a role in really refining your own voice and your own look, so to speak, when it came to being creative in the space of corporate, pharmaceuticals, and health and wellness industry?

Brian: If you look at what it means to be an artist, and to me, the definition of being an artist is following what you believe in and creating art that is for yourself, that others get to enjoy. That’s being an artist. In this space that we live, in agency world, our world revolves around making other people happy, you know, servicing clients, creating art that is for them, that they want.

Full Episode Transcript

Talk West is brought to you by Walk West, and is produced by Earfluence.

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