Brian Winkeler thinks I blew him off.
And that’s quite understandable. He wrote a great presentation on his blog, even directed my attention to it via Twitter, and me? Sure, I meant to respond. But I wanted to do something more than a link. I had something more ambitious in mind. But I get scatterbrained at times, distracted, and before you know it, too many ideas end up getting lost in between the breaking news stories.
Brian is no stranger to this blog; He very eloquently did a guest blog some months ago about why “Oklahoma City Boulevard” might not have been the best branding attempt for the future boulevard set to replace the current I-40.
I’ve seen Brian around from time to time and I’m an admirer of his work.
Brian has a memorable last name. And when I first began to encounter him in coffee shops, via social media (where he freely challenged me from time to time, often deservedly so!), and seeing his work, it occurred to me that somewhere, somehow, I had seen his name before. He’s made the paper before, sure enough, due to his cartooning and animation work. But something else made me think I had read about him before.
Oklahoman archives then popped up a story that had caught my attention years earlier.
Unemployed look at selves for options
Thousands of unemployed Oklahomans are struggling to find jobs. Many have found that opening their own business is their only option.
By Marcin Skomial
|Saturday, July 26, 2003
Edition: City, Section: NEWS, Page 1-A
Four months ago, Brian Winkeler was wrapping up a multimillion dollar project at an advertising agency. His wife was eight months pregnant, and he had just sold his 10-year-old truck and bought a $30,000 sport utility vehicle.
Then his life took an unexpected turn. He was laid off from Jordan Associates, an Oklahoma City advertising and communications firm, where he worked as an art director.
“It was a shock,” Winkeler said. “We bought a car thinking my wife and I had safe jobs.”
With advertising jobs scarce in the metro area, Winkeler lost hope of finding a job at an agency. He chose to put up $10,000 for a computer, software and other items to open his own advertising agency, Robot House Creative. He runs the business from the living room of his Oklahoma City home.
I read this story. It’s one of those stories that grabbed my attention and stayed lurking in my subconscious. I remember reading it and thinking to myself “oh crap – what if that were to happen to me? What will I do?”
It was a valid question. At the time I was doing some serious contemplation of my own career. I was doing a mix of investigative reporting, Sunday feature stories and still dabbling in city and county government reporting. I could see the newspaper industry was going to change. I figured that in about a decade or so, print would be overtaken by online media and a shaking out was likely to occur with some painful cuts nationwide. I had to adapt – to change – or I’d be forced to make even more painful adaptation and change on my own – in the same situation faced by Brian.
I had the timing wrong; the “earthquake” and painful cuts started a lot sooner than I expected. But I adapted. I changed.
Brian is now a respected, established independent operator in the advertising community. He’s doing great work – on his own terms.
OKC is not NYC
I’m not George Clooney. And Oklahoma City is not New York City. And it’s not LA or Chicago or Dallas or Minneapolis or Portland or Kansas City or anyplace else. For better or worse, OKC will always be OKC. And it’s our obligation, as leaders of the creative culture of OKC, to be champions of the better.
Yes, Brian is talking about our design community, but it really doubles as a general statement about Oklahoma City as a whole. For years we’ve looked elsewhere – to Dallas, to Kansas City, to St. Louis, Denver, Indianapolis – any city we saw as “major league” and worthy of us emulating. I’ve seen this as an ongoing issue for our town for the past two decades. It’s OK to benchmark. But let’s stop and realize it’s OK – no, it’s more than OK – to aspire to be … OKLAHOMA CITY. Yes, let’s aspire to be Oklahoma City. Not the Oklahoma City of our past, not necessarily even of our future – but Oklahoma City in its present, in its best and greatest step forward.
Anyone can write a blog. But some words have more power than others. Brian Winkeler is not the only guy making a living in the creative community, and he’s generous in sharing the limelight in his presentation. He gives a nod to so many others I respect – folks like Philip Baker and the gang at Stapelgun, Matt Goad and his crew at Funnel Design … the list is, quite wonderfully, too much for me to list in its entirety. And having seen these guys progress in their own careers, I appreciate what they’ve pulled off – that they’ve had enough collective “oh crap” moments to last a lifetime. They know what they’re doing. And they’re pretty brilliant.
Somewhere between losing his job, sharing an “oh crap” moment with way too many readers of The Oklahoman, and then working his way up as an independent operator in marketing, advertising and design, Brian has come up with the very sort of insight that is truly a “state of our city.”
Now if only Brian will realize he should have burned that “Right Said Fred” CD long, long ago….