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A creative blog by Anthony Godoy on The Whole 9

Anthony Godoy is the creative director at Dead Serious MM, a Seattle boutique branding agency. He’s also a photographer and life-long writer whose work has appeared on The Whole 9 for a few years. Though his days are being infringed upon more and more by business development and management responsibilities (running a company and all), he still finds time to hit the design world hands on. He is also a skier, lover of music and gets around pretty fast in the social media circles. Follow him on Twitter, @deadseriousmm, and on Facebook at Dead Serious MM.

My Favorite Client

A phone text exchange. April 15, 2012.

Me: “Hey, why you never design a Jacuzzi or small pool in a house?”

Quinn: “As far as water features . . . “The Bane of A. Godoy’s” sequel, named “Anthony’s Artery,” in honor of your love of meats and cheeses, has a bidet.”

Quinn is my favorite client. His team are my favorite people. Together with his team, they design some of the most cutting edge residential structures in Seattle. He’s not my favorite client because his work is legit, or because he pays quickly, or because he has a silver tooth with a cross on it right in the front row of his grill. He’s my favorite because he free flows creativity at all times. He speaks and behaves instinctively. And he’s freakishly wise.

Twenty years ago I would not have cottoned to him so well. I would have hated him, actually, always being rubbed the wrong way by the feeling that he’s more creative than I am, threatened by his confidence and infringed upon by whatever hang ups I may have been harboring, which were many I’m sure. But a couple realizations have taught me a few things:

Realization #1: I am a creative director, which means it’s my responsibility to look for creativity wherever it may hide, recognize its potential, and direct where it goes. Sure, sometimes the perfect creative idea comes from me. But sometimes it doesn’t.

Realization #2: I am not the most creative person.

I once finished a book, put it down, and then became angry because it was written so well. I felt as if my chances of ever writing something good had somehow been diminished, as though that particular writer had taken my place in some unseen line. Crazy, right? But still, I was bitter for weeks over it. That was pure unadulterated ego.

Now I understand that a client, though not in a creative media role, may actually be even more creative than someone who’s creative for a living. Not every creative person works in the field. Is Quinn more creative than me? I think so, and I’m fine with that. Remember, my job is to direct creativity for business purposes, not just be creative.

Realization #3: It’s okay to incorporate creative from non-industry types, even the clients you’re creating for. (And sometimes it isn’t.)

Quinn names his projects, Redemption, Meat Fly and One Long Prayer as examples, and how he comes to these names is always interesting. He named a modern house he built on my street after me (The Bane Of A. Godoy), in honor of my disdain of modern houses being built on my street. It was funny, but more than that it was complex. Sure Quinn’s good for a laugh, but it goes further than that. Because of how his creativeness drives his view of the world, the potential in everything he says is so much more than usual. Of course I put up a fuss from time to time about an idea just for good measure. Occasionally I even win. But I try to maintain the integrity of his instinctual idea. In fact he has a saying, “First thought, best thought.” He’s right.

Are all clients creative? Well, in some way I suppose. When they’re not they usually know it and let me do what I do. That’s why they come to me. Others struggle and can get lost in the process. That’s when a client may not be a good fit, and I liken it to this – branding is like a suit: Some clients look good in Armani, others in Sears. If you aren’t comfortable in something, don’t wear it, no matter what it may do for others. That’s when I tell potential clients that though my work may look good in the window, it may not look good on them.

Finally, he has been a client through my most revolutionary period, and has been pivotal to my success. He’s grown as well, exploded actually, and his team feels like mine in some ways. He has other philosophies that just make growth possible as well. Suffice it to say he’s the perfect client because he makes me better, and that makes him look better.

And I’ll bet there’s a project here at someone’s desk called Anthony’s Artery.

  1. Great blog, Anthony! I can identify with everything you’re saying. It helps that I’m in the same basic biz; creative director writing, producing and sometimes directing commercials (tv spots, trailers, etc.) for the networks and movie studios.

  2. I agree with dangerousideas…this is an awesome blog. I completely understand and have been in the same position with everything you’re saying, which comes from being brought up believing that there was not enough, and that somehow if someone else was great, that meant there wasn’t enough greatness for me. Like you, I have come a long way, and although occasionally I still have a twinge when someone else does something outstanding in an arena where I seek to excel, I am happy with the fact that this is quickly replaced with a “Right On!” and then I am able to allow their great work to inspire me to do my own great work.

    Oh…and by the way, amazing work by Quinn and his team!!

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