An interview with Chris Jackson, Creative Director

To Louisville, With Love

We opened a new office in Louisville last year. We led the way by doing a couple of Pro Bono projects. We also sent Chris Jackson. They still seem like good ideas.

Interview by Brad Flowers

BF So, did you do anything last year?

CJ I moved.

BF Oh right. . .

CJ What?

BF Oh, you were done. I was waiting for you to keep going.

CJ Well, my wife and I sold our home of 12 years in Lexington to move to Louisville and help start the Bullhorn office there. Is that what you mean?

BF Yes, that wasn’t so hard. How did it go?

CJ It was wonderful. You made it really easy.

BF Thank you. I try. But, this isn’t about me as much as I would like it to be.

CJ Cut to the chase. What do you want to talk about?

BF Well, you and your move. Of course. But, I am interested in the Pro Bono work we did to prepare for the Louisville transition.

CJ Right. I guess that started with the work we did for Canopy. We did the naming and brand identity. But, I assume you didn’t forget since you did the naming.

BF No, I didn’t forget. But, I would love for you to elaborate.

CJ They are a state-wide non-profit helping Kentucky businesses think more clearly about their impact. I am not aware of any other group working at the state level like they are.

BF I think you are right. They are doing really cool work.

CJ Yeah, it is a lot of work for companies to become a B-Corp and this puts them on the trajectory.

BF What other Pro Bono work did we do leading up to the office opening?

CJ. Western Middle School for the Arts is a school in the Portland neighborhood. It was an underperforming school for decades. They transitioned to an arts focus and have seen amazing changes.

BF What did we do for them?

CJ We helped them show the world who they really are. It is an amazing place and we wanted them to feel proud. It is a place for everyone. It is really awesome.

BF That sounds a little personal.

CJ It is. I had a public school education without the arts. I didn’t have a single arts class until college. I was lucky to have a father who was a musician and a mother who appreciated visuals. Without them, I wouldn’t have considered painting, then transitioning to design. I wouldn’t have known it was an option. But, seeing the kids is the real thing. You can’t go there without feeling an emotional connection. There is a broad mix of people who are allowed to be weird. Allowed to grow up. Allowed to figure out who they are: their own path.

BF That is great. It sounds like the project made a mark.

CJ In general, Pro Bono projects are a cultural boost, a spark of energy. We are all together, working on the same page. With Western specifically, it has been great to see the students own their area of study and still be proud of the school. It feels like they are becoming the voice of the school. They are really advocates.

These projects are a mental reset for our whole office. The timelines, the freedom is different. We also know we are contributing to something important.

BF What else stands out?

CJ By the time we opened the office, we had finished Western Middle and we were starting on The Opposite Shop project for one of their neighbors, Young Author's Greenhouse. They are a literacy non-profit that empowers students by helping them write and publish their work. They are a sister organization to the 826 Valencia, a similar group started by the author, Dave Eggers.

BF Oh right. I did forget about that one. I love that place.

CJ The work was really fun. The idea is that twins inherit this storefront and can’t get along. They split it down the middle forming two shops, The Airship Emporium and Deep Sea Supply. To be honest, the complexity is a bit of a branding nightmare, but it works for them. The kids that go there for workshops are transported. It is a special place. These are some of the poorest kids in the whole city. This might be one of the places where they are treated with the dignity they deserve.

BF I got what I came for. Should we end there?

CJ Sure, what are we working on next?