After our three Dallas portfolio events, we drove down I-35 to Austin. Along the way, we passed a giant caterpillar building and the infamous town of Waco. As warned, it was a somewhat boring drive, but Jess and I kept it lively with discussions of our favorite movies and photographers and just about anything we could think of during the three-hour commute.
Once we made it to Austin, we headed straight for our photographer’s happy hour at The Grackle. We made it right on time at 8 pm. Of course, photographers have a different sense of time, so being one of the first ones there, Jess grabbed some tacos from a food cart next to the bar. I staked out a spot for us to sit. Soon enough, we spotted Adam Voorhes and Matt Rainwaters, and the merriment began.
We had a great time with our Austin photographers and their significant others. After we sat down, the boys of Public School, Jay B Sauceda and Casey Dunn, arrived, and then the rest of the photographers trickled in. Almost all of our Austin photographers came to the happy hour (which turned into several happy hours), where we discussed anything and everything. From A Photo Editor blog to the 6th Street cowboy to estimating, we chatted about it all. It was great to meet everyone in person, and we sure hit it off, but we eventually had to pull away and say goodnight. However, before leaving, I made sure to grab some to-die-for snacks from the food cart in front of the bar.
After a good night’s sleep, we ate breakfast and headed to our first Austin destination, GSD&M Idea City. Founded in 1971, GSDM is a leading advertising and branding agency with its main office in Austin and a satellite office in Chicago. Notable GSD&M clients include Southwest Airlines, U.S. Air Force, American Red Cross, and L.L. Bean.
We walked into their large offices and admired their lobby’s décor, including a large ampersand and a wall of cowboy boots. We sat down and started flipping through magazines on the coffee table, where we came across a photo spread where our very own Casey Dunn and Jay B Sauceda were modeling! The article was about the Public School style and had some great Jay B and Casey quotes.
Soon our escort arrived and started to lead us upstairs. As we were going, I ran into an old advertising college buddy, David. He now works at GSD&M as a copywriter. I soon found out there was a large number of VCU advertising alum at Idea City.
We set out a large spread of books over four tables and Whole Foods catering (the Whole Foods headquarters is right across the street). Our contact rounded up the troops, and creatives started walking through and looking at the books. Many recognized the local Austin names as well as Stewart Cohen’s motion work. A lot of the creatives enjoyed playing with Adam Voorhes’ 3D promos and thumbing through Jody Horton’s iPad. Casey Dunn and Ryann Ford’s interior shots garnered some attention. Michael Thad Carter’s Willie Nelson was also a hit, as well as Blake Gordon’s breathtaking landscapes.
After the snacks were munched, the portfolios thoroughly examined, and the room emptied out, we packed up the books and went in search of lunch. Austin is a hotbed of restaurants, food carts, and bars. It was overwhelming deciding where to eat, but we finally chose Mighty Cone, a food cart on South Congress. It was a tasty treat, with everything served in a paper cone. We chowed down on fried avocado, French fries, and more…all served in cones. Once satisfied, we still had a little time on our hands before our last two Austin reviews, so we browsed a couple of the South Congress shops until our meeting at Milkshake Media.
Milkshake is a “strategic branding and creative agency that specializes in building brands that build community.” Their clients include Populous, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, and Trek. Our first impression of Milkshake came from the sign hanging above their front door—a unique metal object with pink neon lights and an attractive patina. This vintage meets modern theme continued throughout their office, with polished concrete floors, refurbished neon signs, and a lot of giant pastel letter m’s.
We set up our books and started to discuss Milkshake’s photography needs. Their art producer and creative director let us know that most of their photography is lifestyle and portraiture oriented, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying Kevin Marple’s food shots. The CD said he was very familiar with Adam Voorhes’ 3D promo, as it’s his 3-year-old’s favorite office toy.
While we were chatting, we started hearing the popping of corks. The CD let us know that they were celebrating a new client. Jess and I got in on the celebration and were able to share a glass of Champagne. We enjoyed our conversations at Milkshake but soon after all the portfolios had been looked through and the glasses were empty, we had to pack up and said goodbye so we could head to our next meeting.
Our last Austin stop was at Advertising Age’s Southwest Agency of the Year, McGarrah Jessee. McGarrah Jessee has been getting a lot of attention lately for their creative work, interesting clients, and beautiful new office building. We were excited to stop by the shop that created such notable advertising/branding work for clients like Shiner Beer and Whataburger.
We were invited by one of their art producers to come by for an end-of-the-day review. We provided the books and snacks, and they provided the Shiner (every style, in fact). The meeting was a fun one, with a lot of creatives coming in and chatting about the photography. Everyone was into Matt Rainwaters’ Beardfolio, especially one bearded fellow who recognized many of the people pictured. He was actually heading off to Europe soon after for a beard competition. The group also enjoyed Matt’s “Party Terminator” leave-behinds, saying it reminded them of a coworker (poor guy).
Most of the group was very into John Schulz’s still life, especially his beer photographs. Meanwhile, Jill Hunter’s serene summer porch photo caught the eye of one McGarrah creative, who stated that she’d love to relax on that porch.
After some Shiner, photography discussions, and some beard talk, we packed up and got ready to leave. Before leaving, we got a tour of their stylish new office. Once an old bank, the designers had tried to stay true to the original styles and décor of the building, with vintage-style furniture and colors. I felt like a character in Mad Men as we toured the agency.
Eventually, we made our way out the door and headed out on the road again. This time to our final Texas stop, Houston!
Check back tomorrow to hear about the Houston portion of our trip.