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Justin Farmer

Justin Watkins

May 2014

Justin is a multi-talented designer and strategic mind working as an Associate Creative Director at MMGY Global. You may know him as local taco eating legend. (26 tacos at Rico’s. Crushed the record.)

Ira Glass said a while back that people do creative work because they have good taste. That always makes me think of Justin Farmer. I’ve known the guy forever and he’s always had great taste.

Justin Farmer

Am I right to think your personal tastes led you into creative pursuits or was it something else?

Yeah, it pulled me towards talented creative people. I’m a bit of a creative stalker actually. Some day I’m expecting Chris Hansen to jump out of the bushes when I walk into an agency.

We both studied Graphic Art at UCM which was and still is print heavy. Why aren’t we running a Heidelberg somewhere?

Fortunately we both had enough sensibility to recognize our classes could be applied to other fields. Plus we didn’t stop in the classroom. We always had a side project; T-shirt companies, bands, record producing. Side projects are opportunities to create, experiment, grow a skill-set and most importantly fail.

Do you think local universities will catch up with the digital divide that’s been growing especially in our field?

No. A High school grad could teach themselves more about designing, coding, shooting and editing while sitting on their couch watching back-to-back episodes of The Walking Dead (that’s what the kids are watching these days, right?) than a semester in a university. Even when we were in school this was pretty apparent. Most of our digital chops we learned on our own time.

Some would say most ad agencies are only one small step ahead of universities. Do you think that’s right? Any idea what agencies will start to look like in the next several years?  

I’d agree. I think we’ll continue to see the growth of smaller, more nimble and scrappier shops, whether they’re independent or a small group of outcasts locked away in a basement of a larger agency. That’s where the real innovation and speed will come from.

You transitioned from traditional to interactive years ago. Now you’re transitioning into something more holistic with social media playing a bigger role. Were these conscious decisions?

Conscious decisions, but the transitions have always been organic. If I see opportunity to grow skills or have a greater impact, I start doing things. I don’t wait for a new title or box of business cards.

Let’s talk about Hueman. Why ask and chart how you are?

Perspective. Are things really as bad as you think they are?  Are they really as good as you tell everyone?

hueman-app

I like the story of how it came about. Can you give us the cliff notes?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  A front-end dev, a musician, an artist and a systems architect walk into a beach house in San Diego…

What’s your most recent epiphany?

I have to credit a good friend with this one, but I’ve never been to a retirement party for a creative in the agency world.

Yeah, around 40 you either move up, go corporate, or rethink the whole thing. Riding out agency life until 65 is a rarity.

So what do you like about what you’re doing now?

Not having to specialize in any one thing.  My work can take a lot different forms, it keeps things interesting.

What’s the biggest lesson you had to learn the hard way?

It’s okay to say no.

Amen brother.

Interviews with KC Makers & Marketers