“I’m a Hungry Artist, not a Starving Artist.”
– Carl S. Johnson
People rarely take time to look back and reflect on the journey. Mainly because life has a way of moving too fast, and pushing you forward when you’re not looking or paying attention. And whether you like it or not.
But this year–2020–marks a special milestone in my personal and professional life. My company, Saint Creative is celebrating ten years in business! Why is this significant? Well, it has been a quarter of my lifetime(!) An adventurous and rewarding ride, an achievement that I’m proud of. I’m humbled and in awe at the same time.
Actually, I’ve always likened being in small business to being out on a ship on the ocean. You’re navigating the uncharted waters, sometimes calm, sometimes ominous or turbulent, mostly unpredictable. Let’s be real–most of us don’t really have a clue what we’re doing most of the time, even if we act like we do. Out at sea, all you have are a few essential supplies: your instincts, some preparation, a trusty compass, and hopefully some wind. Sure there are elements of danger and the unknown, but it’s a quite a view and the sunsets are always glorious.
When we started back it 2010, the climate and economy in Detroit was on shaky ground. Forecast was gloomy, with a 100% chance of rain and storms. You might recall Detroit looking and feeling more like Gotham City, rather then the rejuvenated and vibrant place it is today. I’ll never forget the TIME cover story that ran in October, 2009 that featured my city, with the headline that read “The Tragedy of Detroit.”
No one was rooting for Detroit. But you can’t count Detroit out either. Because it’s filled with tough, resilient, resourceful and scrappy individuals. (ie. Detroit vs. Everybody) Now they call it the Comeback City.
But if I’m being honest, I started Saint Creative out of necessity. There appeared to be little to no options available for me back in 2010, as most design studios & ad agencies just weren’t hiring. Instead, they were laying off creatives in alarming numbers. Almost everyone I knew was looking for a job or trying to figure out their next gig. If was almost humorous actually, when I’d go work up at Starbucks. There would be a handful of others like me, with their MacBook’s busy humming away. We would suspiciously eye one another, as if to say, “I know that you’re a fellow creative.” Just another graphic designer, web developer, video editor, photographer trying to make their way into an uncertain future.
Well, I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures.
So I did the most logical thing one could possibly think of: I started a company. In the most devastated economy since the Great Depression. You might say it’s pretty bad timing. But then again, when is at the “right time” to take it a risk or start a business or do something significant? Now is. The present. There’s never a right time, because you’ll never be fully ready – so now is the right time. Today is the day. Jump in.
And I’m so glad I did. Thank you to Josh Yurich for starting Saint with me all those years ago. Thank you to the talented and inspiring creatives who have worked along side me: Sarah Kennedy, Sebastian Tkaczyk, Joe Wells, James Alleman, Justin Cox, Nick Keebaugh, Max Majoros, Paige Hall, and Richard Ensley.
Ten years down the road and I’m still a fan of this. I love what I do. I’m still passionate. I’m still hungry. I have ten more years in the tank if you do.
Finally, I would like to say THANK YOU to the many great clients we’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with.
I’m still committed to serving you and serving you well. Thanks for being awesome, and such a joy to work with. Thanks for the continued opportunity to do business with you. Without you, I couldn’t do what I do. The true value, the secret reward for me has always been the relationship we’ve been able to establish and experience together. Besides the scenery and view from the boat, this is the greatest reward of being a small business. I think it goes without saying, but I’m on your side. I champion you, your business and your success. Thanks for letting me be a part of the ride and part of your story.
The best is yet to come.
Carl S. Johnson