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Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 031918 — Glenn Sweitzer

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Field trip to #sparkchamber Nashville today, as we visit with creator, storyteller, designer, and idea guy Glenn Sweitzer. Glenn is a California native who always loved to make things from nothing. Originally in school to become an architect, he found his true passion when he landed a position at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, first as a set designer, and later as an Art Director. He then moved to LA-based design agency 30Sixty Design, where he worked with leading clients, including Paramount Studios, Nestle Food, and Hanna-Barbera. 

A move to Nashville, and a chance meeting with [then] new country artist Tim McGraw launched him as a design force in the music world, earning multiple awards for his album-cover and marketing/promotional design work, not only for McGraw, but Lady Antebellum, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, and Aaron Tippin, to name just a very few.

Glenn added photography and video production to his “Swiss army knife” of capabilities, and founded an award winning full-service company — design, video production, and marketing under one roof. Like his approach and his work, the company is called Fresh, with a simple mission statement: Affect — affect people’s lives visually.

With more than 300 albums designed to date, Glenn has just released his first documentary film. Called When the Dust Settles, the film explores how wild mustangs from the western plains, and girls of poverty from Chattanooga, TN, help each other prove their worthiness to the world. The film has been accepted into 10 film festivals, winning four best-of-show awards including Social Awareness, and Best Full Documentary.

1.] Where do ideas come from?

As a visual person in every aspect of my life, I would say ideas come from inspiration. I have been a graphic designer/art director for more than 33 years, and ideas come from things I love.

I can see something and lock it in my brain for a future need… at least it feels that way. I could have an idea for something and the result is from an inspiration I saw a year ago. But I would say the overall idea comes in a flash, then I work and hone it to refine what I am looking for.

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

My itch is a wide spread itch :) Like many people in the creative world, we are driven by what we do. It is not a job, but one of a passion and hobby that I am lucky enough to get paid for. My itch is that I am never completely content or happy with the result of what I just created. There is always something different I could have done. Thru the years, because of my wanting to do the next thing, and also a changing music industry that I work in, I got into photography and video production. Now, both are a major part of my career and in fact video production [documentaries] is my new passion for this second half of my life. Telling stories visually is fascinating, and I am driven to be a part of it all.

3.] Early bird or night owl, tortoise or hare?

Without a doubt, I am the night owl. For some reason, I have come up with all my best work late at night. And when I say late at night, I mean I was going to bed around 4am. I survive better on less sleep and find if I get too much [6+ hours] I have rougher days. Of course, I need a day a week to catch up. But I love the quiet at night. No phones ringing. The ability to create my own background noise. Not that I have not tried to be an early-morning person, it just does not work for me. Early mornings are best at a cabin with snow and a fireplace burning. In regards to tortoise or a hare… absolutely the hare. Even when I sit in the first client meeting, most of the time I already have the idea or direction we will end up with. I will doodle and get some rough bones of a logo or a design. But I need to get it out of my system, then it’s easier to cruise on the production end to make it right.

4.] How do you know when you are done?

I can honestly say I am never done…. but, as a commercial artist, we have deadlines, and we have clients. I know what the ultimate need is, and we also have the deadline that dictates when delivery needs to happen. Unlike people who are fine artists, I cannot always assume they will use my design as is. This is not about something that truly inspired me and will be the best for a product. This has many thumbprints on it from the client, and we all aim to get to a point where we are all happy. But something happens in design that is amazing. When I doodle something then refine it, the feeling of “it” being finished and ready to present is the best feeling ever. Just knowing that it is something I am proud of and hopefully represents me, just feels right.