Don’t Pee in the Pond. Make it Bigger.

It’s been a hell of a year, guys. From rolling along in 2016 to shedding weight and gaining gains for the next push into 2017 — I didn’t even know it was possible to get used to reality punching you in the face. A wise man (also covered in tattoos and tougher than railroad spikes) once told me: roll with the punches or get knocked out. 2016 was the year of learning about the rough truth of that statement. Thanks, Tony. I’d like to make a revision to the philosophy, please:

Roll with the punches, make some good friends along the way, or get knocked out.

One of our core philosophies as a company formed true to us in the past year. “People Over Profits.” In our past, we, or should I say I, have never had such a colorful year of learning the true meaning of that statement. The true essence of our pursuit had truly smelled the daisies of partnerships, beautiful souls, and an absolute blessing of inspiring clients within the (dare I say, enduring?) year of 2016. Ephemeral highs, and Mariana’s lows — I don’t think I’d have made it to the screeching end of 2016 without the incredible people who contributed to my questionable studio vampire lifestyle as well as the blinding light of support that was bestowed upon my talented friends and the goofballs I call my team that guided every creaking step of the way. Through the settling dust we made it though, man. Incredible job, squad. I’m sweating with pride and absolute gratefulness to know and work alongside every single one of you.

Through the settling dust we made it though, man.

Growing up in Reno and continually striving for some type of rush of reality and that tingling aftertaste (regret?) of Cholula at 3 or so in the morning, it’s taken me about 23 young years to realize and confirm a pretty apparent pattern going on in this funny little town. Survive together or don’t survive at all. For those of you who may not have had the opportunity to walk the dark faux paved sidewalks accommodating our charming town of lights and Gold ‘n Silver soaked dreams, Reno is a prideful little ecosystem. Through the bleeding pride of the locals (and non-locals), it’s quite apparent through every industry and lifestyle you observe it. For example, Reno businesses support graffiti artists. Graffiti artists give Midtown a face and decorate the small area with charisma. Midtown incubates local endeavour. Local blood, sweat, and tears is Reno at its core. And lastly yet, Reno is a gleam on the map of Nevada. The Biggest Little City in the World. Where grandma is tough as nails and grandpa can easily scare the shit out you with his cowboy ways. And not to get but to totally get poetic on you, Nevada is simply a flicker in the flame on the global scale.

Where grandma is tough as nails and grandpa can easily scare the shit out you with his cowboy ways.

2016 candidly opened my eyes to this reality. Conclusively, 2016 frankly gave me that much more hope for our town. We’ve always had a freakishly talented culture scene with some admirably bulletproof people leading the way. Fearless pursuits in a greater vision of Reno. A perpetual drive to kick harder than your last kick and dive deeper than your last. And to top that, a foundation of support and connections tough enough to body slam Hulk Hogan through the splintered floorboards of a brick home somewhere near Forest and Taylor Street. Hold that thought.

Let’s rewind. A foundation of support has proved itself over and over again here. It’s as clear as the smell of sagebrush in the coming months. The feeling of mutual support from not only my friends, incredible clients, and the opportunities to work with agencies locally and nationally that little 15 year old me grew up being completely inspired and in awe by, none of us wouldn’t have made it as far as we have without a mutual support of each other and a cohesive support of Nevada’s vibes as a whole. We’re all in the same little pond, and it’s a growing one at that. Things get pretty salty when you pee in the water.

A foundation of support has proved itself over and over again here. It’s as clear as the smell of sagebrush in the coming months.

We’d like to thank the Academy

Yep. There they are. In their acrylic-y ADDY glory. First and foremost: thank you everybody. Thank you clients. Thank you friends. Thank you partners. Thank you for putting up with everything I’ve put you through Mom. Same goes to you Pop. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Are you sure you guys didn’t pee in the pond? Because I feel all warm and fuzzy. Our team as a whole is forever grateful for your support and for the continual encouragement to do’s what we’s do’s, for all of you’s. We wouldn’t be here without seeing the inspiration on the public’s faces and the “oh shits” and the “hell yeahs” from our fellow design-folk. You guys rule.

Are you sure you guys didn’t pee in the pond? Because I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The 2016 ADDY Awards we’re humbling as well as eye-opening. The feeling of sitting alongside the tables of the agencies that are arguably the sole reason why you even had the silly idea to embark on a tedious pursuit of a creative industry is absolutely surreal. The feeling of seeing these guys absolutely slay it (as usual) is invigorating. Your senses go crazy with anxiety when you see that god damned project you spent sleepless nights working on the screen. And like finally getting camp set up after hiking into the hills, you get such a crazy sense of relief that the hike is over with and you’re thirsty for the milky glow of the stars as well as making of your belongings stink like campfire and giggles the next day.

This year was a unique one though. We’re seeing Nevada kick up dust on the map more and more each year. And I don’t just mean Jack London hopping trains through Reno in 1892. To see our studio getting their feet wet in projects globally and a presence everywhere from Tokyo, Australia, Brazil, Denver, New York, and San Francisco — to seeing Reno’s own amazing agencies doing such, for a lack of better words, god damn amazing and inspiring work inside and outside of Nevada. You guys are the reason why we do what we do. Whether you know it or not, we think you’re pretty rad and I have the utmost respect of the incredible work that I see getting produced in Nevada.

“It was in Reno, Nevada, in the summer of 1892. Also, it was fair-time, and the town was filled with petty crooks and tin-horns, to say nothing of a vast and hungry horde of hoboes. It was the hungry hoboes that made the town a ‘hungry’ town.”
— Jack London (1907, The Road)

All awards aside (not that they matter that much anyways… do what you love and show that you love it) — it’s becoming quite apparent that Nevada is brushing off it’s dusty camouflage. It’s always had the talent, it’s always had the culture and we don’t need to tell you that it’s always had the fire in its belly, and that’s not you burping up the Picons from last night. The snow surrounding our city’s culture is starting to melt. The culture is beginning to flow into new territory. And most importantly to note: we’ve done this together. Our industry has done this by creating our own ecosystem of connections and foundation, in the economy and outside of the economy. By not peeing in the pond we share together. By reinforcing it. Whether it’s bright lights, late nights, or red-eye flights, we’re all in this together. By building a bigger pond for one another. Each and every one of us is growing and developing by a mutual pat on the butt from our fellow fish (do fish even have butts?) that share the same pond. Agency or studio, firm or group, person to person, we’re all doing this for the sake of the pursuit to greater each other, our minds, and whether it’s directly or indirectly — for the sake of what it means to be a part of Reno, Nevada.

Whether it’s bright lights, late nights, or red-eye flights, we’re all in this together.

If you can hear me: here’s to you, World. Here’s to you, Nevada. Here’s to you, Reno.