Thursday, May 6, 2010
Permit me to wax poetic for a moment.
By now most of you have heard that Gen Art, a fantastically creative and exciting organization, has closed after 15 kick-ass years of top production quality events, introduction of otherwise unknown artistic talent to the masses, and exemplary creative brand integration. Although I have not worked directly for Gen Art for a couple of years, the almost 6 years that I spent there shaped much of who I am today, and I feel a loyalty that is shared by most other "Gen Arters" as well.
When I showed up on Gen Art's doorstep in Chicago I was 2 years out of college and very unhappy to have left New York. After a year with Federated Departments Stores in Product Development (where I learned that I was not cut out to work for many layers of serious executives*) and a magical position with Donna Karen (where I learned my love for high end events and eccentric (read: insane) people) I found myself on a plane back to the Midwest after 9/11 stole my job, and much of the economy in New York City.
I started searching for a job that was as rewarding as DK and also had that key ingredient, entrepreneurial spirit. I very clearly remember walking to the Evanston public library (as I was staying with Trev's MOM!) and googling "fashion jobs in Chicago." During this time (dark ages) that was a TALL ORDER for a job in said city. The first thing that popped up was "Gen Art - looking for interns." I bit my too cool for school lip and decided I had nothing better to do than help out this spanking new outpost of the Gen Art Organization. Within a week I was running the infamous "PT Studios" program. For which most of you have seen a PT cruiser more times that you could ever want/need to. I am still very sorry about that. A couple months later I took the position of Regional Manager, then Director and finally left as National Director of Marketing.
The best part of youth is stupidity and blind faith. In retrospect, I knew very little at age 23 (gasp!) but I was SURE I knew more than anyone else. What I didn't expect was to have a support system who believed in me as much as I did, and let me run the Chicago office by my gut. There is this phenomenon when a company or organization is based on one of the coasts. It can be difficult for the powers that be to understand Chicago is a different animal. But as any Chicagoan knows, their consumer wants the same exposure to pop culture as either coast, but in a different way. I vividly remember telling Ian Gerard, CEO and co-founder of Gen Art, "I can't explain to you how I know I can make this office the best of all, but I know I can." Who listens to a 23 year with 2 years experience?*
Many of us share the same story - being given a platform to do what we do/did best, and we are forever grateful and more successful for it. I think I can speak for most of us when I say there is a giant hole in the market right now. And the rest of us are working feverishly to ensure it is filled. I've created a group for those who loved the mission of Gen Art and the fun that came with it.
Please join us: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=108305095878968&ref=ts
And stay tuned for what is to come for the team both past and present.
RIP Gen Art!
*or anyone who told me I was wrong