Brian BENNETT

Creative Director | CARHARTT

Creative Director at Carhartt. Chief Assistant to the lady who manages three rascal children. Meat eating American Patriot. Lover of life's rugged corners. Brian's a rough-and-tumble type who grew up on the South-side of Chicago, the son of a cop – just don't be fooled, he now lives surrounded by book nerds and know it all doctors in Ann Arbor, Mi. Or Easy Town as his dad likes to call it. Brian balances his lack of current manhood by overcompensating with stories of his college football days and his experience creating work for Nike back when Lance and LeBron were cool. He'll also remind you how relaxed he is after writing ads for Corona for four years, yet his wife will tell you his kids unravel him daily. And don't even mention the current state of the Chicago Bears to him, he might lose his mind. Tough, yet sensitive, that's him (according to him). He claims to like poetry and gardening and shopping for dresses for his two little girls. Yet he's man enough to remind you he'd rather be in his backyard drinking High West Whiskey, throwing axes and working a pork butt over for the 12th hour on his Brinkman Smoke'N Grill. When he's not BBQ'ng, playing legos with his son or watching football or coaching football or throwing a football or playing fantasy football he occasionally gets recognized for his day job. He's won several awards from an Effie to a Clio to a Cannes Lion but every time he tells his dad about them his dad changes the subject to the award he once won for singing Elvis on a Carnival cruise ship. Perspective is everything to Brian. So are chicken wings. In fact, he probably just ate wings so keep that in mind when you shake his extremely manly hand (a hand that his dad will tell you has never fixed a god damn thing).

questionnaire

What was your very first job?

A caddy at Ridge C.C. On the south side of Chicago.

Please describe, in your own words, what your job is and what work it entails.

I'm the executive producer and creative director at Carhartt. It's my job to tell Carhartt's 126 year-old story through the eyes of the hard working folks who wear us proudly.

How did you discover that the creative world was right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this discovery? What was there train of events that brought you to where you are today?

I got my first ad job in Portland at W+K as an assistant pee-ant on Nike because I sent them a case of beer on St. Patrick's Day. I didn't know much about advertising but I knew I was lucky to be working for deeply talented, super-duper creative and insanely odd people. Dudes like Jim Riswold and Mike Byrne who took me under their wing, spit me out and let me come back to work with them the next day. I learned early you gotta love what you do and to put that love into everything you make. That spirit definitely led me to where I am today at Carhartt some 15 years later. I'm happy and hellbent on creating stores and ideas meant to inspire blue collar working class people. Men like my father, brother and friends.

In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how do you find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant?

It's my job to study, hang and entrench myself with the the makers, doers, builders and dreamers of the world. That's our target market at Carhartt and it's a very inspiring group. In the end, I learn as much about me as I do about them. Like the fact, I spend way too much time in an office on a computer typing like a monkey. Working on Carhartt has taught me to spend more time outside playing in the dirt and making something (anything) with my hands. And that makes work never feel like work for me.

If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation it required, rather than its recognition or industry “success,” what would it be?

Here's a project we just made last week for the opening of our Detroit store. It started with a loose idea based on a conversation I had with one our clothing designers who had just seen the Diego Rivera Exhibit at the DIA in Detroit. Diego painted the working class of Detroit in many of his murals and it reminded us how much we've (Carhartt) been a part of the working class in Detroit for all these years. So we told the history of the Carhartt Brand from 1889 til now with 4 simple images that span from the Industrial age to the auto age to the urban farming era to the modern day rebuilding of Detroit. We then gave our idea to some local illustrators to make our idea better. From there we watched a muralist paint their illustration on a 200 foot wide building by 56 feet tall. A Carhartt mural painted by painters who wear Carhartt. How fitting. A great reminder the process of making is just as great as the outcome.

jury

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