“One of the biggest things I have learned but not mastered yet is taking time off. Do not underestimate a good recharge and break from thinking about work,” shares Phil Guthrie.
Name: Phil Guthrie
Company: Two Fresh Creative
Can you describe your company?
We are an artist-driven studio. Two Fresh is in this to make fresh and inspiring work. Of course, not every project will be groundbreaking, but when we have the opportunity, that’s that we do. We’re more of a problem-solving company, and if you look at our portfolio, it ranges a lot. We pride ourselves on understanding our client’s problem, and then putting our efforts into fixing it to the best of our ability. Services include design, animation, compositing, editorial, live-action, VFX and stadium graphics.
What’s your job title?
What does that entail?
It means a lot of hours. It also means a long road to get to this point in the company’s life. We moved four times before hiring our first full-time employee. We still have room to grow while remaining a boutique size and taking on jobs we feel passionate about.
What would surprise people the most about what falls under that title?
The fact that at some point, I had to bootstrap and do everything myself — produce, design, animate, creative direct and handle billing and accounting. I have given these tasks away along the way, but it really gives you an extra sense of understanding since you now know what’s entailed in the role and what struggles come with it. I think you relate to others with more empathy.
Another thing I didn’t anticipate is holding the job of peacekeeper — keeping a watch over our team and trying to keep the mood positive and creative. It’s a challenge some days, but it’s so worth all the work.
What have you learned over the years about running a business?
One of the biggest things I have learned but not mastered yet is taking time off. Do not underestimate a good recharge and break from thinking about work. Also, learn to delegate, and bring in people who are smart and adept at certain tasks. This is how you elevate your business. Like [RevThink consultant] Joel Pilger told me once before, focus on your genius.
A lot of your job must be about trying to keep employees and clients happy. How do you balance that?
Yes, there must be a buffer between the two. The balance is in keeping clients happy and creatives motivated and feeling free to think and explore. If we get an odd piece of feedback, the translation to the artist is always tailored to that individual. This is an art on its own, and this is why, when we find people we like to bring into the studio, we find a good rhythm and form these working relationships where we understand each other.
As for clients, we are still relatively “fresh” on the scene, but these relationships develop over time as well. Ultimately, I want what’s best for everyone. My stance is, I am here because I love what I do, and for me to achieve what I love, I need to help you improve your brand/product/service. So we are helping each other. It sounds cheesy but we only live once, so let’s enjoy this!
What’s your favorite part of the job?
The people I meet and work with. I feel accomplished when we’re all flowing as a team on a job. Another thing I love is the constant learning about new industries. Esports, for example, is one that I’ve come to feel like an expert in even though it’s still a bit of a wild-west space. It’s incredibly exciting to watch it change so quickly, and you have to keep up.
What’s your least favorite?
Talking about money! Even on lower budgets, it’s tough to downplay our skills to that.
What is your most productive time of the day?
Just before everyone gets into the office. It’s quiet and I jam at 300%.
How has your studio pivoted to working from home during this COVID crisis?
We now have our network setup on a secure remote access, which has proven to work. We’ve also been using tools, such as Slack and Frame.io, to give notes, set schedules and chat like we are all in the same building.
As for new business, a number of our live events and sports jobs were put on hold, so we’ve been trying to stay in touch with all kinds of people in the industry and be as conversational and resourceful as possible. We’re still mastering the art of remote new business, but I think the same is true for so many of us who are all trying to figure it out day by day. For now, we are staying the course and continuing to work on the projects we have in-house.
Any tips for those in a similar position?Stay positive! When this crisis first upended life and business as we know it, I was angry and sad, and I’ll tell you, it slows productivity. So stay positive, engage your staff, keep smiling, try to have some fun and get to know each other better. Laughing together really does have a healing effect, so keep those funny Zoom backgrounds coming.
If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
Well, if I weren’t running my own company, then I would look for a staff creative director role somewhere. It might sound similar, but it would be so different than what I’m doing now. If that’s not an option, then I’d open that coffee shop I’ve always wanted to and, obviously, have fresh in the name.
Can you name some recent clients?
Our recent clients include TSN, 2K Games, 7-11, Facebook and Fox.
Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
My cell phone, Spotify and white boards.