Greg Gibson – Creative Director + Partner at Grizzly, talks to us about the rise of the creative scene in San Diego, 5 great lessons to learn along the way and how a passion for music lead to a career in design.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
Most of my earliest creative memories center around playing music, which I’ve done in various capacities for most of my life, but I drew a lot as a child and have fond memories of various art projects in elementary school. After earning a degree and a starting to pursue a career in music, I found design by necessity. A friend gave me a cracked copy of CS5 (sorry Adobe) so that I could learn to make show posters and flyers for a music instruction business I started, and I fell in love with everything about it.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
Grizzly is a creative agency that builds Adventurous Brands. We’re a team of multidisciplinary creatives dedicated to creating work that matters; a team that believes in the power of people, collaboration, and a hell-of-a-lot of hard work. We partner with organizations like Microsoft, Marriott, and the Surfrider Foundation to build forward-thinking, relevant experiences that connect brands to people through thoughtful, narrative-driven design, technology and content.
Any passion projects you would like to share?
Grizzly is heavily involved in organizing the local chapter of CreativeMornings, and the community we’ve helped to build around creativity in San Diego is something we believe in and are incredibly proud of. The groundswell of people who have stepped up to embrace creativity as an integral part of our city’s future has been incredibly humbling and inspiring. We’ve had over 5000 people attend our monthly events since January 2015, and 2016 promises to be an even bigger year for our community and the impact that they will have on San Diego. Stay tuned!
What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in?
It’s an amazing time to be a designer and agency owner in San Diego. Historically, design and San Diego haven’t necessarily been synonymous, but we’re at a turning point where that’s starting to change, and there’s a massive opportunity to build a thriving creative community with designers driving cultural change and innovation. There’s also an equally large opportunity to bring awareness to the great work being done by designers in San Diego and continuing to raise the bar to ensure San Diego can produce amazing work and attract top talent.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
1. Put people first; It’s easy to get caught up in your work or who you’re doing that work for, but remember that it’s always about people. This is a relationship-driven business, and you have to genuinely care about the people you interact with to build the trust that’s going to enable you and your team to do your best work.
2. Think big. Start small; We’re an agency of entrepreneurs. We’re dreamers and doers who tackle big problems, but we’ve learned that unless you start small and learn along the way, the wheels spin and you go nowhere. Have a vision and make one good decision at a time.
3. Eliminate fear; I had a very wise professor in college who said, “Get rid of fear. Fear ruins careers.” It’s so true. You have to be unapologetically fearless as a designer and entrepreneur. Ask questions. Try things that scare you. Be comfortable with imposter syndrome, because it’s real, but know that everyone feels that way. Fail fast and learn faster, but don’t be afraid to say you don’t know/understand and seek answers from people that do.
4. Surround yourself with people that challenge you; I’m a self-taught designer, and only got to where I am because I made a conscious decision early in my creative career to surround myself with people who were far smarter and more talented than I was. Be challenged daily. It’s invigorating and inspiring, but you have to out and seek those people.
5. Design is everything is design; Design is at the heart of our daily lives and can contribute to solving problems for people, companies, communities, and our planet. Being a designer is an immense privilege, and one that needs to be continually earned. If we do our job well, the world is a better place to live in, and contributing that talent is one of the most fulfilling things I could imagine.
What’s the big goal in the next five years?
Building a world-class creative agency doing great work with awesome people, and working collaboratively with more Adventurous Brands to build experiences that make the world a better place to live.